Botero Square
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A Gondola Ride, A Huckster, and Art in Medellin
After taking the Metro gondola up 3,000 feet on the east slope of the Aburra Valley to Arvi National Park at 8, 200 feet, we strolled the streets of a gritty neighborhood we were advised to avoid, taking in a huge flea market, items looking like junk, (“One man’s trash is another man’s treasure”). Weaving our way through the jammed sidewalks, we eventually sauntered into Botero Square, which proudly displayed some two dozen works of Medellin’s famed 84 year old sculptor, Fernando Botero, which can best be described as depicting people and figures in “large and exaggerated volume”. The anchor point of the square was a black and white checkered structure with spires and a dome, the Palacio de la Cultura Rafael Uribe Uribe, a Gothic public structure housing cultural programs. Wandering around the square, we came across a crowd of 30-40 folks circled around a swarthy, red-faced ‘huckster’, ranting into his wireless mic, supported by his female co-conspirator, taking money from those willing to give, praying over the stack of bills, sprinkling water on it, putting it in tinfoil, rubbing it, passing it over the outstretched open palms of those that had given, kneeling down with his sidekick standing behind him, both chanting pre-rehearsed mantras, pouring water over himself, the ‘faithful’ crossing themselves and believing. Activity in the square, intertwined with all the Botero sculptures, consisted of hawkers, prostitutes, and general milling around. We took the Metro to our Poblado stop, trying to elude impending rain, which caught us just three blocks from our hotel, ducking into Burdo, sipping on a Sornero, waiting out the torrential rains. Sal y Brasa, a Tango, Parrilla y Bar, was our swan song to Medellin, a romantic mood created by the music and the night air.
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