Last summer I went to Medellin for a week since I had just bought a new camera and absolutely loved Narcos.
The fact that my girlfriend cheated on me, allowing my mental health to reach its absolute abyss and me wanting to ”find myself” on a 2-month drug-laden trip in South America had absolutely nothing to do with it.
Medellin is called ”The City of Eternal Spring” and that slogan alone should make you want to pack your bags. You lot can have summer, I’m all for spring. And Medellin embodies spring. Spring is about anticipation. Excitement. Resurrection. Wearing your freshly bought spring trainers for the first time. It’s about showing off your new Adidas Gazelles to the cute barista (whose freckles are starting to show) at the local Starbucks. Getting rejected.
Not that you give two fucks. It’s spring. You’re immortal!
Medellin is struggling to fight off its reputation of being a dangerous city, but it’s certainly not struggling to show the opposite – if you actually go there. The city is located in a valley with steep hills and mountains surrounding the city centre, making it really hard for the poor population who live in the mountain barrios to access the city centre. This caused the city to invest in a ”Metrocable” (a shit load of gondolas connected to the metro system) that’s running up and down the hillsides for tourists to easily access the diverse and lush barrios, and most importantly, connecting all Medellin inhabitants.
Football is everywhere in the city. It’s painted on the walls and played in the streets. Its shouted from the bars. So obviously I had to attend a football game since the city hosts two major teams; Atlético Nacional and Independiente Medellin. They both share this magnificent 41 000 seated stadium that just oozes South America. The round shaped stands, the cracked cement, scary ass policemen that possibly have been instructed to beat the shit out of you, stray dogs (I always wondered why dogs are such a common type of pitch invader in South America. Turns out the stadiums are their home), 1,50 dollar beers and ultras staring at you with olive-sized pupils and gurning jaws.
Independiente Medellin, the footballing underdog in comparison to the bigger brother Atlético, played against Deportivo Cali in the quarter-finals of the Colombian Primera A when I was in town. Right up my alley. I never knew what it is like to support a winning team anyway. Then I heard that Pablo Escobar was buried with an I.M. flag wrapped around his torso, and it was settled. This was my South American team!
I hopped on the surprisingly modern and clean metro (it makes the metro of my hometown Stockholm look like absolute shit) down to the Atanasio Girardot Stadium to enjoy some Colombian football madness. I purchased a bootleg match jersey, some pork arepas and a well chilled Aguila (fuck right off Carlsberg, Aguila is the best beer in the world) from a street salesman. He insisted on me buying the jersey since ”the fans will fucking kill you, amigo” if I didn’t wear the home team colours. I took his advice, kindly rejected the cocaine he insisted on me buying since, again, ”the fans will fucking kill you, amigo” and entered the stadium.
The game ended 3-1 to my beloved new team. Unfortunately, Cali had won 4-1 at their place for the first leg of the quarter-finals, so I.M. got knocked out. I still enjoyed the game though. I tricked a steward into thinking I was a photographer by saying ”Soy un fotografero” and waving my camera in his face and got full access to the absolute madhouse of a stadium it was.
Medellin. I miss you more than my ex. Stay you.