Sun…Day – The Day of Separation

Museo de Arte Moderno Medellin

Museo de Arte Moderno

Sunday is the day we go our separate ways for an hour or more. When we are at home, Ron goes to church and I stay home doing whatever I am involved with at the time.  When we travel, he enjoys going to church in the various countries; generally, it is the Catholic Church whenever possible. He has gone to Episcopalian services also. I always go along most of the way. In strange countries, I am concerned about either of us wandering alone for a long list of reasons.

This Sunday was no different; Ron went the ultra-modern A-frame Catholic Church with triangular stained glass above the altar. It is just blocks from our condominium.  It seemed this would be a no-brainer for me, since there are more than a half-dozen coffee shops directly across from the church and wrapping around the corner going up the hill. With my book packed, we headed out.

When we reached the church, we discussed my possible whereabouts for Ron to find me easily after mass. My plans were aborted when I looked for possible seating at the coffee shops. Not one of them had a single vacant table, but even if they had, there were so many people eating breakfast, I would have felt conspicuous tying up a table with a lonely cup of coffee.

Not the ideal, there are brick planters outside of church that seem to be often used for vendors needing a rest or anyone else needing to plant their butt down for a spell. With plenty of vacancies here, I sat and read my book. The side door was directly across from me so I could hear the goings on inside the church. At first, it sounded familiar, though in Spanish, when you have been brainwashed with the celebration, it is facile to follow in any language.

Engrossed in my book, I was able to block my mind to outside noise that is until I heard children’s giggles and full-blown laughter partially drowned out squeaky childlike voices. Thinking the priest must be inhaling helium, I went back to my reading. These strange voices continued for some period of time, which kept the laughter going too. Thoughts that Ron had wandered into a cult setting disguised as a church occurred to me briefly.

It is interesting to me to witness peoples’ behavior and I find this specific to Spanish language countries. Although the church may be near full, a number of people stand outside the building during mass. As I am observing them, I cannot help but chuckle. There were small groups that not only stood outside, but they stood on the sidewalk facing the door. With their hands in pious positions, they are busy talking among themselves, obviously not paying a bit of attention to what is happening inside. If the virgin herself suddenly appeared at the altar, they would have no clue. Interestingly, I discovered the same behavior in Mexico City, Oaxaca and other cities in Colombia. In years past, I first realized it in Argentina and Ecuador. If they wanted to be true to their nature, they should have brought a book and joined me.

Ron revealed the secret to the strange voices coming from the sanctuary. The Muppets provided the homily. Apparently, three Muppets acted out the story normally presented by the priest. It must have been a children’s mass. Next week, I may pop in long enough to take pictures just to verify the story and then escape thru the crowd of semi-devout bystanders hanging around as if they really are attending mass.

Colombia - Medellin January 2016 057With the afternoon to do as we pleased, we decided to visit our first museum in Medellin. Choosing the Museo de Arte Moderno, we knew we would need to take a taxi or be lost for days. Walking down the hill for the first two miles, we thought it would be a straight shot once in a cab.

Ron hailed one and gave the driver the Colombia - Medellin January 2016 063name of the museum in Spanish. When the driver did not move the car, Ron tried repeating the name while showing him the icon on the map. This still was not enough. Turning the map over, Ron pointed to the printed address of the museum. No synapses were harmed during this interlude and not one of the driver’s synapses was firing either. It had been a question in my mind how many taxi drivers are illiterate. Hence, showing them directions or pointing to a map is clearly not going to work out well. Ron read the address. This seemed to be the key, but the driver still had to stop to ask directions.

If we had five pesos for each time a taxi driver had to stop for directions, we could buy ourselves a nice dinner.

Across the street from where we mistakenly thought the museum entrance was, a wide selection of vendors had food preparation stands set up on a vacant cement covered lot. We had all good intentions of investigating this once we left the museum.

Surprised by the museum, not only is it a modern building, it is quite lovely. Being Sunday and being seniors, admission is a mere 5,000 pesos each. As we have traveled, I am finding a greater appreciation for contemporary and modern art museums. In the past, I would have just written them off. Once entering the main hall, it looks like a giant warehouse with various salons Colombia - Medellin January 2016 051 Colombia - Medellin January 2016 052along the side. It may not be the best use of space, but it certainly is not cramped either.

Enthralled immediately by the work of Antonio Caro, his work almost consumes all the salons on the ground floor. His work relates to the indigenous population, some of it very simplistic, yet very powerful in proving critical thinking. The other artist heavily represented with paintings was Débora Arango. Her themes represent women’s rights or rather lack of them during her time (1907-2005).

There are five floors to the museum, but one is dedicated to a terrace, but closed on our visit, which was disappointing; however, going to the top floor, we discovered more salons and a rooftop terrace that was just as lovely as what we were able see one floor Colombia - Medellin January 2016 065below. The view was spectacular and the building itself is a real mix of plain with surprising accouterments here and there.

After spending a delightfully relaxed three hours touring the building, we found some interesting wall art directly across the street. We missed the food fair. They closed down an hour before our return. Around the corner, a string of different restaurants is all sharing a common space. We stopped for a drink before catching a taxi home again. We Colombia - Medellin January 2016 081had to offer directions for driving us back.

After completing my Ed.D., the frustration of finding a teaching position where I was willing to live, led to Ron and I leaving the country. We intended to travel for a year before settling somewhere in MA or RI. We left the US without any credit card debt, no car payments and our house mortgage paid by renters. We had $10,000 in the bank to make our way through a year.