Comuna 13

Woke up, packed my things, said goodbye to the incredible Board Game John and hit the street. Here’s my breakfast. I’ll eat spinach and lentils tomorrow, I promise! The swing between democracies and dictatorships has

Woke up, packed my things, said goodbye to the incredible Board Game John and hit the street.

Here’s my breakfast. I’ll eat spinach and lentils tomorrow, I promise!

The swing between democracies and dictatorships has been troubling in Latin America. Maybe part of it is this incredible worship of Simon Bolivar, a great fighter who ended up trying to control everything by himself?

If I was to spend some Medellin tax money, I’d get yet another train for the lovely “line B” to the west.

At San Javier, I saw no guides for “Comuna 13”, so I just took this gondola line. It was super-scary!

And no, I didn’t get the company of three gangsters, but that of three school girls! I’m sure that is a great sign of how civilized this area has become in the last few years.

They talked lots with me, with hardly no English at all. And they wanted to be inside all the pictures. Gladis here even somehow found my name and added me on Facebook afterwards. Are you reading this now, using Google Translate? Good! Keep reading 🙂

At the end of the trail, there were lots of graffiti. Here you can see the trail itself, all those scary little wagons up in the air. (I survived, btw).

I don’t think this is Comuna 13 though. I should probably go back to the last subway station, maybe try the other exit.

Yes, the bird told it to me. Just do it.

Trying to mimic the guy in a cap on the wall.

The art!

Between the more contagious city part of San Javier, and the high-built graffiti suburb I just visited, we have this massive ghetto.

The problem with ghettos is not the poverty. It is the lack of ownership. No one wants to invest tons of money in an area that they don’t control to 100%, and ghettos you simply don’t control – for historical reasons, and current reasons. But as you can see in this picture, here’s what happens when you completely own the land – you build high close to the city! Well, poverty adds too of course – you need people capable of paying a decent rent to you. Hence: basic income 🙂

I was so lucky, that on the way back, I got the company of this Canadian gentleman and his local, English-speaking guide. He told me to just go back to San Javier, and follow the crowd. My own guide would be 100.000 COP, a 30 euros. Or I could just tag along. I liked the second idea better. And he loved Bolivar, explained that he became a life-time dictator simply because of weird other people. Beware of those weird other peoples!

In San Javier, there was a sign: “Electric escalator, 1.5 km”. I followed it.

As of then is often the case, the main road is the safe one, and troubles linger on the small side streets, where there are less witnesses. Witnesses are the point btw. They must 1) be ready to talk to the police and 2) exist. If you have any neighbour that got robbed, maybe you should try to add more witnesses. Here’s one idea, if I may steal from myself:

The red areas are new-built homes packed with witnesses! Walking to/from subway, sitting in cafes etc. You should never be alone on the street. Anyway, eventually, after one kilometre, the signs stopped, and the road lingered into three different ghetto streets, that none of them felt safe enough. I tried all three of them, until the ghetto got too ghetto for my taste. Like, a guy walking quickly towards me holding something in his pocket. Or a small guy that sees me and starts running. Or just packed with people fixing old cars. And this is very hilly, btw, and I had all my belongings, so I got really physically tired, started fantasizing about taxis. In the end, I just went to the police station where the three roads started. I could have done that from the beginning, but as the shy man I am, I prefer risking my life by walking down three ghetto streets than talk to a police officer. He was very nice btw, and gave me the directions. It was the left street!

Tourist shop! A sure sign I’m on the right way. Mad man in escalator, which has everything to do with Comuna 13.

It’s interesting, that the worst area in the world (quote: Youtube), suddenly becomes a very popular tourist attraction. Here’s an article about it.

Untz untz untz

Here’s me and two children.

Become something by reading a book!

Here’s an image from one of the paramilitary days, served with fancy craft beer.

Crawl, walk, dance! The local evolution.

Someone’s lovely kitchen window.

After the ghetto, I took the train back to San Antonio and went to pick up my cap. Five euros! I can now wear it for another year 🙂

Went to the bus station and used the free Internet from a restaurant. I tried to order the best fruit drink to pay for that, but they were so many!

The bus came and brought me towards Cartagena, on the northern coast. Here’s our dinner restaurant. Then I slept well in my lovely sleeping bag 🙂

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