Category: Colombia, 2020


February 5.

Our stay at Cannua has been a terrific respite from city life. After breakfast, we are picked up from our hotel by Ana and driven an hour to Medellín, where we head over to the government center. We are happy to have Ana as our guide for the day, Brian getting a well-deserved one-day vacation from us. 

We focus on the importance of architecture and transit in the city and the roles they’ve played in transforming Medellin into one of the most innovative cities in the world. We are told about the role of government and community in the change of the city and are shown locations that used to be among the most dangerous in the world but our now beacons of peace and civic pride in Medellín.

Here are a few street scenes

We stop for coffee with Ana at a place where people used to to come to tango and which is unchanged from the 1930s, old juke boxes and phonographs still in tact.

 We head to Parque Berrio/Plaza Botero to explore both the world-famous sculptures of Fernando Botero in the plaza and walk through the Museum of Antioquia, full of sculptures, paintings, and drawings donated by Botero himself to his home city. Seeing so much of his work together certainly gives one a far greater appreciation for the scope and magnitude of his work.

 In the afternoon we have an exclusive and wonderful visit to one of the sites of the city’s music school network 1990s to teach classical music to children in the most dangerous parts of the city. The program was so successful that the children’s orchestra played a private concert for the Pope, and opened music halls across Europe. We learn about the network’s role in savings hundreds of lives in the city during the height of Medellín’s violence as we see children beginning their training.

We start with lunch together with students at the school. We are then told about the history of the creation of the school by Daniella, the daughter of the founder we will meet this evening, who works full time without pay for the Amadeus Foundation which supports the school. Daniella is totally delightful and passionate about the schools for work and articulate about its goals. We tell her about FreshLens, the program that Carol and I have gotten involved in that teaches photography to under resourced children. There is a strong parallel between the music school and FreshLens, though the former requires a far greater commitment on the part of students. They come five days a week for five hours a day after attending regular school during the morning.

We are treated to a concert of both choral and instrumental work by the students. The concert is great fun and the students seem extremely invested in what they are doing. Carol and I had a huge smile on her face during the entire time. I think it is likely that we will wind up supporting the school in some way.

 Afterwards we head to the Park 10 hotel and our two-story presidential suite to rest before the evening’s special event. We are driven by Ana to the city’s Botanic Gardens for which special admission has been arranged. We walk over to a private tent where we meet the visionary founder of the musical school network, Juan Guillermo, and listen to two now adult-musicians trained from the very first class of students in the 90s, Ana’s husband, Freddy, playing cello, and Estéban, playing violin. They are some of the finest musicians in Colombia and play a private collection of pieces just for us. Juan Guillermo is an amazing, warm and charismatic fellow. Talking with him about his vision and how he has made it happen, changing the lives of thousands of poor kids, is inspirational. A magical evening.

Afterwards, we return to our hotel, use the two free drink tickets we were given at check-in in the restaurant and go up to retire.

Botero and Medellin were interesting enough, but did not compare to the rest of our day and evening.

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