Medellín, Colombia: A Shopping Wonderland

Going back to my rebellious tourist attitude I had in Quito, after Cali I decided to skip over seeing the coffee region of Colombia and go straight to Medellín.  Yes I’m aware of how beautiful it is, but I’m feeling quite keen to make it up north to the Caribbean coast for playtime at the beach and I’m also not a fan of coffee to begin with.  Therefore, after making the decision to wake up early, I caught a rather uncomfortable bus up to Medellín as my first stop on the road to sunshine, waves and hopefully spending most of the day being as nude as socially acceptable.  I didn’t end up staying as long as most people do in Medellín, but I found the city to be one of my favorites thus far in terms of character, with San Antonio barrio being where most of the action is.  There you have an eclectic mix of street vendors amidst, in my humble opinion, some of the most beautiful architecture in South America (well of Perú, Ecuador and Colombia).

Women be shopping

I’ll start in with the most interesting part about Medellín – the variety of shopping opportunities afforded the casual tourist or resident all days of the week.  If you stay in the high brow El Poblado area, you’ll most likely find your standard mix of purposeful upscale wares in a self-contained building of sorts.  But if you’re interested in spicing things up a bit, San Antonio is where the action is at with street vendors lining the streets selling everything from fake poop to typewriting services to kinky sex.

First there was the fake poop guy.  When I passed by on the first day, I quite frankly passed by and snapped a photo with my iPhone in secret.  I saw four piles of perfectly sculpted poop on the ground next to an old man who looked like an ex-boyfriend and six bottles of brown colored spray and was naturally frightened.  I decided to observe this one from afar, but after some pestering from curious friends, I decided to brave a chat with the man the next day.  I walked up to him, [pointed with my lips], and asked him what the hell he was selling.  Bright-eyed and animated, he explained to me that it was a broma, a joke and the brown spray was actually cockroach killer.  I thought that was an odd product mix and walked away, completely underwhelmed by the anti-climactic explanation.  I was hoping it was real poop on the ground and he had discovered some spectacular cleaning spray for that shit.

It’s Poop!!

I continued on my walk through the streets and next came up to the porn DVD district.  This is not shocking to me anymore.  I’ve ventured through the Red Light district in Amsterdam and even went to a sex rave once where I saw three very large black men loving each other.  Therefore, I would say I’ve seen it all, but still, I couldn’t help but be bewildered by this one porn cover I saw.  I couldn’t figure out if it was a woman or an animal and then realized that some cheeky porn director hopped on The Black Swan crazy and made a cinematic adventure about a woman who wears a merkin made of black bird feathers.  I didn’t purchase this DVD to confirm, but I imagine it was one of the more artsy pornography films.

The latter part of my day was less grotesque and sexualized (aside from the wrong turn that resulted in a stroll down the tranny hooker street) and only amounted to some oddities of Colombian culture.  There was the line of typewriting men who prepared official looking documents.  In the actual brick-and-mortar stores, there was the oddity of clothing store MC.  This is the first time I saw this in South America so I assume it’s a Colombian thing, but this concept takes the WalMart greeting to the next level and introduces a young hip man who invites you into the store by way of microphone and tells you all about the deals of the day.  Of course, what better way to market the fashionable styles of Colombian clothing than with some “ideally” proportioned mannequins.  This one makes me laugh.  If we were in the U.S., I’m sure somebody would be crying out that mannequins with oversized breasts and bums were sexist and set a bad example for young girls, but here I think nobody really cares.  The men are not off the hook in the high expectations department either.  As I walked through one of the malls in an antiquated building, I noticed that the men were hard pressed in their mannequins as none of the jeans could be zipped up.

Colombian standards for women. Love it or leave!

Previously I’ve said that I hated shopping because it’s generally boring and stressful, but in this case, I actually enjoyed strolling about the streets doing a little window shopping.  It effortlessly added a little character to my day and didn’t cost a penny!  The architecture is also a nice visual pleasure in the city as well, but I’ll save that for a classier post.

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2 thoughts on “Medellín, Colombia: A Shopping Wonderland

  1. Love your shopping through Medellin, but it’s a shame you didn’t stop off in Eje Cafetero….I have to agree with most that it is one of the most beautiful, if not the most beautiful parts of Colombia. Oh, and BTW….we have the same Mannequins in Miami….because of our very latin population! 🙂

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