Saturday, July 28, 2007

Colombia Dispatch: Streets of Medellin

Downtown medellin...
Built to resemble a threading needle, the Coltejer building has been the emblematic building structure of Medellin since it´s construction back in the late 1960´s (much like the Empire State Building is emblematic of the Big Apple). After all, Medellin has long been famous for its pioneering and still leading textile industry. At 140 meters and 35 floors, it remains the tallest building in the city. It did look taller to me when I was a kid (or before I became a worldy man of adventure).
Here´s a look at downtown Medellin from the grounds of the Medellin branch of the National University. Yup, that´s the Coltejer in the background.
There´s some uglyness to this particular urban structure but for some reason it has always fascinated me. Build a building on top of a steep hill, access to public transportation is on ground level. Solution? Build an elevator tower on the outside that gives easy access to the bottom of the hill. Very practical.
Yes, there are Citibanks in Medellin...
One of my favorite movie theatres as a kid, El Cid, long ago ceased to show wholesome family fare. Yesterday´s movie: "Suzanne, the pervert waitress," only U$2.50!
This requires some explaining: Tarrao is a particular slang word used in Medellin to describe someone who is hot. It can be used as a noun as in "Damn, what a tarrao" or as a term of enderment as in "You´re my tarraito." But it denotes, mostly, that you come from a poor neighborhood (where gonorrhea is sometimes also used as a term of endearment as in "How are you, gonorrhea!"). So I had to laugh when I saw this billboard right in the middle of the city advertising tarrao underwear (funny thing - the imagery on their website shows the Boston skyline instead of Medellin´s).
Although there are fewer young men in Medellin sporting anime cartoon spiky hairdos than in Bogota, pink power seems to have taken over women all over the country regardless of age. Pink IS the fashion color of the season, or - to be more exact, fucsia, which happens to be the name of this pink shop.
Second, perhaps, to Caracas, Venezuela, Medellin women are known for their curves, their slavery to fashion, a high rate of bulimia and anorexia and sky-rocketing rates of plastic surgery, even among adolescents. Not for nothing do they call Medellin the fashion capital of the world (the city is still buzzing about the 1st ever appearence by designer Carolina Herrera at the recent ColombiaModa fashion show).

The women of Medellin are extremely fashion conscious, no matter what age, weight, economic class or looks. The preferred look is tight jeans, bare midriffs, high heels, long hair, big breasts and some pink. It probaby would look sluttish anywhere else in the world but Medellin. Above, grandaughter and grandma at the meat rack in a supermarket waiting for a ticket. Loved the stylish grandma wearing that tight, tight, tiiight red full-body jumpsuit.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Great Colombia blogging, but Susana leaves me oh-so-limp. RW in SD

John K said...

The external elevator is like the famous Lacerda elevator in Salvador da Bahia, which takes you from the upper city (Cidade Alta) to the lower (Cidade Baixa). (It's always recommended over the picturesque but dangerous ladeiras.) The one you photographed isn't so ugly...or did you mean the admitted unattractive apartment buildings it's attached to?

Andrés Duque said...

I meant the apartments - close up they ain't so pretty. But people say that they're are cute inside...