Que Chimba Parce! Medellin was as I remembered, very tranquilo. It wasn’t there to bother anyone, it was the beautiful soul of Colombia. It had its sadness and its happiness, but it was in every aspect in a perfect balance as it was with the weather. Night or day, there was always perfect air to breathe.
One morning we were having breakfast at a bakery near the hostel and what looked like a young boy came over to us to sell us some bags. These were small packaged bags that couldn’t possible be selling well. I had just bought a Colombia soccer Jersey off of another one of his street vendor friends, and now he was asking me if I wanted to buy a bag. I told him I didn’t, I probably could have bought it, but it really wouldn’t have done me, nor him any good. The way I saw it an entrepreneur better have a product that is viable, or it’s just not going to work. So then, he asked if I could buy him a beer, or a coke, or some food or something. Apparently he had been working very hard all day and hasn’t sold a single bag. And so, I offered a trade. I told him in exchange for buying him lunch, he needs to tell me a story. He said that was fair and sat down. I handed him a menu, and told him to go to town. Myself, Danny, and our new friend Diego said, “Salud!” And had sip of our beers. The waitress came over as if to shew him away, I told her he will be accompanying us for lunch that day. She smiled and said ok. It was very apparent that she knew him well, and the way that she patted him on the back, she cared for him.
I turned to him, “So it’s time for your end of the bargain my friend, tell me a story.” His teeth stuck out pretty far, and his eyes turned very creepy, he leaned in to whisper something to me as he cupped his mouth.
“This is going to be pretty good.” Danny had mumbled as he saw him lean in.
Diego whispered in my ear that one time, he walked in on a little boy being molested, and he beat him to death. . . I partially regretted the trade. I looked at him and nodded, and didn’t say anything else about it.
Deep down, I believe that being a sexual predator is one of the deepest evils of humanity, especially when conducted upon an innocent child. There is a reason why an unspoken code among men is that anything goes about dealing with a predator, a child molester, a rapist. In jail those guys have to be put in solitary confinement for the rest of their lives to avoid GD’s wrath, and even then, people will also go to solitary just to find them. When such an atrocity happens to another soul, it is not just permanently damaging upon the receiving soul, but it is a tare in the fabric of humanity, and it permanently affects every soul in contact with the child that was prey. Their romantic relationships will forever be affected, the guilt upon their parents will forever crush their spirit, and the predator will identify with evil that will permit him greater atrocities in life. Diego told me he should probably be on his way and start working, otherwise it will be another miserable day.
A few hours later he walked by another coffee shop I was working on my laptop at and told me he still had no luck. I asked him to join me for a moment to discuss his business model. I asked Diego about his family, he said he had three kids and a wife back home, that the past few days he hasn’t sold a single bag, but on some other days he was able to sell up to 30 of them. I asked him how many he sold that day.
And the day before? “Nada.”
In fact it turns out he hardly ever sells anything, but continues to try. I watched him try to sell a bag, and saw him get turned down by some tourists. I told him in Spanish, that first of all, these tourists don’t even understand what he’s selling, they just see a package and him saying something in Spanish that they don’t understand, there is literally no way for them to be able to buy this. I told him how to say, “Would you like a bag?” But it still seemed like more of a luxury item than anything. So I asked him if he ever sold anything that did well.
“I sold cigarettes before, but I get these bags for very cheap. I don’t have money to buy a box of Cigarettes. If I was able to buy one box, usually people buy them. I can buy them at a cost of $4,000 pesos per pack, and sell them at $8,000 per pack. Everyone seems to like cigarettes too. . . But I can’t afford a carton, I can hardly afford food for my family. That’s why I see these bags, I get them as a loan, but no one wants them. You must live a good life, you can travel, you don’t have a family, sometimes I wish I could trade with that, I have a wife and three kids and I can’t figure out how to feed them. I have responsibilities but sometimes I wish I could just run away.”
“Your family is your blessing Diego, things may be tough now, but their existence is the blessing in your life. The rest of us only wish we had that. I’ll loan you $50,000 pesos, for you to buy a carton and start over, but it’s a loan, you need to go buy a carton, work your ass off so that you can pay me back, and support your family, and have some longevity in your business.
He jumped up, got super excited, took the $50,000 pesos, fist bumped me, and ran off. I had to leave 2 days later and didn’t see him. I hope that small bit of encouragement helped him find his way. It is amazing how something that is so small for us, can potentially change it all for someone else. $50,000 pesos is the equivalent of about $17.
We chilled out in may favorite city for a few more days. . . took a cab to Son Habana, one of the top Salsa clubs in Medellin and on the way there the cab driver asked if we wanted to make a stop in Barrio Antioquia, one of the deep hoods of the Medellin overlords. We obliged. As we drive in, it’s literally like a vice episode. It’s the middle of the night but the streets are alive, people standing on the corners, running around, dogs running through, this was the hood. It made Watts seem like Pleasantville. A big semi truck tries to turn the corner and a bunch of kids jump on it and ride away laughing. As we stop I lock the doors, a bunch of people start walking towards the cab and peaking in. It felt like Jurassic fucking park. I wanted to video tape but felt safer hiding my phone. I looked at Danny and say, well buddy, it’s been a fun ride. This is how it ends. . . . The cab driver comes back and smiles. We go to Son Habana. I meet my friend Brianna there, who I was originally connected to a couple of years ago to give her recs on Colombia.
Son Habana is THE salsa club in Medellin. We dance all night and these Paisas (the word for a person from Medellin) are so absolutely proud of their dancing abilities. I watch the pros for a while and then hit the floor. The women from Medellin are passionate and mysterious, as well as natural competitors for So You Think You Can Dance. One is moving her feet so fast, I tell her I love her Calena style dancing, she gets offended and says that she does not have a style. . . she dances with her BLOOD.