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Travel

As Darkness Falls

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One afternoon, I lose track of time and forget that it’s getting late. A much as I had now grown accustomed to El Centro and all it’s vibrancy, it is well published that this place had a significant dark side after darkness falls. Whilst I had ignored the odd report suggesting that you avoid the place during the day, I had followed the many stating that it was a dangerous place at night. Without exception, every report suggested that you ventured downtown at night at your own peril, and as a westerner, it was as good as signing your own death warrant.

I could tell that once the shops closed, and the workers all returned home, this place would be vastly different.

Begging for food

Medellin Man At NightI had seen pockets of homeless during the day, sleeping in the most strange places such as in the middle of a busy zebra crossing, or in an open shop doorway. Most of them were out for the count and not in your way, but occassionally someone would approach you for money. In many circusrtances, my plead of “no entiendo” (I don’t understand) or “no hablo mucho espanol” (I don’t speak much Spanish) would be sufficient, but these people are desparate. Over my time in Medellin, I realised that they had even adapted and learned the most important few words in English to survive. Words such as “hello friend”, “money” and “please” made them capable of putting the point across effectively enough, and I found this very difficult to walk away from.

The irony is definitely not lost on me that these destitute people know more English than most of the people in Medellin, and it is my understanding that only a few hundred pesos gained (less than 50 cents) can secure these people a hit of crack cocaine, and it very sad and difficult to see.

Darkness falling in the City

As evening draws in, the place definitely has a different feel about it and it’s hard to put into words. You feel like everyone is looking at you, and there’s a hint of paranoia about it. Like the afternoon, many of the people that are there are also looking to make money, but not necessarily from the same ways as the street vendors during the day. Perhaps their “product” or “service” can’t be sold from a market stall, or wheelbarrow, or a shop?

Another homeless man at night

You feel like you have “mug me” written on your forehead, or perhaps the back of your t-shirt, and there is an overwhelming sense of “get me out of here” inside your stomach.

As I depart for the metro one evening, I experience something that was one of the most powerful and heart wrenching things I am ever likely to experience. There’s a large group or drug addicted teenagers hanging about by the station. I discuss this more elsewhere, but I return to my room thinking I am one of the luckiest people in the world.

It’s amazing how experiences like this can change you, and stay with you forever.

About Adrian Britton

Sometimes I will talk about things that are interesting, and sometimes I won’t. Sometimes it will be a bit of a laugh, and sometimes it will just be a downright rant about something going on in the world – I’m often accused at moaning a lot, and I consider myself quite good at it !!

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