I had a guided tour of the sights of Medellin today. There were some really great things to see: the Botero Plaza where many of Botero’s most famous statues are on display (there are several on display at the Columbus Circle mall in NYC; this is much more impressive!), the largest clay-brick building in Medellin, the “Metro-Cable” (pronounced metro-kah-blay) which is a tram connecting several of the poorest neighborhoods to the central train tracks. I saw the factory section, where the coffee is processed and shipped, where the textiles and flowers are stored, processed and shipped.
A few very interesting things happened during today’s trip. The Metro-Cable had to stop for some reason while we were on it. I didn’t ever find out why, of course. But it did give me a bunch of time to look, in detail and with a bird’s eye view, at what the poor neighborhood looks like. I found it fascinating that there are stores, grocery stores, churches, and some services, but I couldn’t find a restaurant anywhere. I asked the guide and he said, as if it should be obvious, that there are none since all restaurants are downtown. It’s not obvious to me. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I wouldn’t want to be forced to take a significant commute for a nice evening out with my family. Compound that with the strength of a large community and it’s reasonably appropriate for me to be surprised. He tried to explain further that the locals here can’t afford to eat out. That’s more believable, but still an incomplete answer. There has to be more to it than that. Hopefully I’ll have some more insight into this later this week. For now, unfortunately, this is all the explanation I can share.
Perhaps the most impressive section of the city is the “Pueblito Paisa.”
There is a hill in the middle of the city of Medellin. It’s just tall enough to give a 360 degree view of the entire city. On the top of the hill is a replica of what a typical village center of this region of Colombia used to have before industrialization. There are shops, food, and space to walk around. This hill, but more importantly this little replica village center is what has earned the name.
What’s In A Name?
Each culture has it’s own name for itself. When you spend some time researching these (it’s an interesting exercise for those who are interested in it), you’ll discover that each cultural name for itself really means, at it’s very base, “the people.” So “Inuit” in the language of the Inuits means “the people,” as does Mowhawk to the Mowhawks and Celtic to the Celts. So for the Inuits to say “Inuit people” would be redundant, as it would be for any of other self-named culture.
Well the same happens to be true for the Colombians in this region. They call themselves Paisa. To them, it means the people from this region. And I am certain that a careful study of this area would reveal that some time, ages ago, it simply meant “the people.”
Pueblito Paisa – The Name
Pueblito translates fairly simply as “small town” or “little town”, or it could even be “cute little town”. My guess is that it probably can be used to mean “village” too. All of these translations work pretty well.
Paisa we just discussed: it means the people of this region, or further back, just the people.
So when you look at the name put together, Pueblito Paisa means: a small town of the people.