July 29th, 2010
*We hosted our first official guests at Su Casa Colombia this past week: Haileigh, Ashley, Joanna and Colleen. All four live in or around beautiful San Francisco. Haileigh and Ashley arrived four days before Colleen and Joanna so technically they were the San FranTastic Two at this point, but let’s not split hairs.
When in Medellín, visiting the Museum of Antioquia should be on everyone’s list, and that’s exactly what we set out to do on day four with Ashley and Haileigh. The Museum of Antioquia is home to one of the largest collections by world-renowned artist, Fernando Botero, aka the guy who paints fat people. Born and raised in Medellín, he is the city’s most celebrated son and thanks to his donation of over 100 of his pieces, he helped spark a cultural rejuvenation in Medellín’s city center.
If Botero is Medellín’s favorite son, then the nefarious Pablo Escobar is his evil stepbrother and no place better illustrates the contrast between the two than Plaza San Antonio. We made a quick stop here before the museum tour to give the ladies an understanding of Medellín’s troubled past, its promising future, and the role that Botero and Escobar played in its development. In plaza San Antonio, two bronze statues of the same bird sit side-by-side, but with one great difference: one statue has been mutilated, disfigured, and nearly turned inside out by a bomb placed underneath it during a celebration in 1995. The bomb killed 22 people and injured more than 100, and although it’s still unclear who was responsible, a terrorist group associated with the late Escobar was amongst those considered.
Next to the mangled bird is its intact twin donated by the artist in 2000 on the condition that the original statue would remain to serve as a reminder of the futility of violence. Now the birds, titled Birds of Peace, summarize in one glance the difference between the Medellín of the past, riddled by drug lords and crime, and its current peaceful incarnation, thanks to the resolve, resilience and fortitude of citizens like Botero.
A short walk later we were in midst of some of Botero’s most important paintings, sketches and sculptures. Many of his paintings depict Medellín in the 1940s, and others focus on bull fighting, a profession he pursued for two years during his youth. But the most powerful are the paintings that have personal meaning to him, such as Pedrito which he painted after his son was killed at the age of four in a car accident, or his take on Escobar’s last moments in The Death of Pablo Escobar. Botero, age 78, continues to create art to this day, and is truly one of the most talented artists in Colombia and the world.
Having worked up quite an appetite in the museum, we took the metro to my family’s bakery/café, Todo Fresa for some delicious Colombian-style pastries, pasta, and of course, coffee. Not to sound biased, but they make some mighty fine food there so we make a point to take all of our guests there for a meal and a tour of the bakery. Judging by their empty plates I’d guess that Haileigh and Ashley enjoyed themselves.
That evening came the arrival of Colleen and Joanna. Finally the San FranTastic Four was complete! After a delicious dinner by Chef Noah, some catch-up and girl talk (Noah couldn’t keep up with the latter) we headed out to the Poblado area to watch live jazz at the Museum of Modern Art. Only problem was the band finished right before we got there. Not to worry, we grabbed drinks at one of our favorite bars/restaurants, Bonuar, while Haileigh and Ashley filled Jo and Colleen in on their adventures. We called it an early night so we could get up bright and early for our much-anticipated trip to our family’s ranch.
Come back tomorrow to read about our colorful trip to the market, our first day at the ranch, fruit-tasting and a spontaneous poncho photo shoot.
Check out the Museum of Antioquia’s website here.