The World’s Coolest Square: 49 Photos From Medellin’s Botero Plaza

Venus snoozing in Medellin's Botero Plaza

Venus snoozing in Medellin’s Botero Plaza

It didn’t take me long to decide that Botero Plaza was among my favorite public gathering places in the world. And that’s only partly because it’s the eponymous square of one my favorite contemporary artists.

Situated in the Old Quarter of Medellin’s city center, it’s home to 23 sculptures by Fernando Botero, the city’s favorite son, which he donated to the Museo de Antioquia, a world class art museum that dominates the square’s west side. They’ve been on permanent display in what is Medellin’s only open air museum since 2002.

What struck me most about the area is how welcoming the space actually is, one where seemingly everyone feels at home. Young mothers, drunks, beggars, cigarette and lime juice vendors freely intermingle with musicians, tourists, artists and bankers. Being surrounded by nearly two dozen stunning larger-than-life examples of human sensuality has a certain calming effect. Here it’s very palpable. Infectious.

Botero Plaza

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Salon Malaga, Medellin – Pic du Jour

Salon Malaga, Medellin

Salon Malaga, Medellin

At the Salon Malaga on Calle 51 Bolivar, in Medellin, Colombia, near the San Antonio metro station. It’s packed with old jukeboxes from various eras, the walls are covered with photos of singers and musicians, and coffee is just eight hundred pesos, around forty-two cents. It was good coffee, too.

Snapped on 05-Jun-2013; mentioned on my RTW Week #20 round-up here.

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Atop the Eiffel Tower, in Sucre

From atop the Eiffel Tower in Sucre, Bolivia

From atop the Eiffel Tower — in Sucre, Bolivia

Today’s Pic du Jour, the 96th (!) straight, was taken from atop the Eiffel Tower which sits in the center of Parque Simon Bolivar in Sucre, Bolivia. It looks nothing like the Parisian landmark, isn’t nearly as tall, is much more rickety but was in fact designed by Gustav Eiffel.

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After 122 Months, a Return to Film

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This wall is near the Cobbler’s Bridge in Ljubljana’s old town center, the first picture I shot on film in ten years and two months. I intend to make many more.

This journey ‘back’ began innocently last fall when on a whim at a flea market I dropped €22 on a Zenit EM and a roll of Ilford 50 ASA black and white film that was two years beyond its expiration date. My edition of the Soviet workhorse SLR was released in 1979 for the 1980 Moscow Olympic Games, but the brand dates back to 1952.

Soviet workhorse

Soviet workhorse. Heavier than a Macbook Pro.

It came with a Helios-44, a fixed 58mm lens with a f/2 – f/16 aperture range. Combined, the camera and lens weigh about as much as my MacBook Pro. And is much louder, too. I like the smell of the leather case.

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Rumiñawi’s Perch: The Coolest Building in Guayaquil

Inca warrior Rumiñahui - The Museo del Banco Central, Guayaquil, Ecuador

Inca warrior Rumiñahui – The Museo del Banco Central, Guayaquil, Ecuador

This is Rumiñawi, a 16th century Inca warrior who has pride of place on the facade of the Museo Antropológico del Banco Central in Guayaquil. I didn’t see a portrait more confident, fierce and proud in all of Ecuador, warranting this series of five images for today’s Pic du Jour.

Like Atahualpa, the final Incan Emperor, Rumiñawi was also tortured and killed by the Spanish after he led an unsuccessful resistance force against the conquistadors in the northern part of the Inca Empire in 1533.

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In Slovenia, Protest Over Proposed Higher Education Reform Law – A Dozen Photos

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An estimated 2,000 people gathered in Kongresni Trg square in the Slovenian capital Ljubljana on Wednesday to protest a proposed sweeping higher education reform law. The law, known as ZViS, would introduce tuition fees for the first time, essentially ending free universal higher education. Here are a dozen photos.

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Still Life With Tito and JFK, and a Balkan Conspiracy Theory – Pic du Jour

Still life with Tito and JKF

I just finishing chimping this shot when the owner of the small stall, made up mostly of used books and cheap trinkets, approached. He asked what I was taking the picture for.

“Just for me. I liked the composition, Kennedy there and Tito there.”

“Of course you know he was a phony.” He was referring to the former Yugoslav leader, not the assassinated U.S. president.

I smiled. “I’ve heard some of the rumors.”

He then began a capsule summary of the widely-held theory among Balkan conspiracists that Josip Broz Tito, the peasant born to a Croatian father and Slovenia mother, was not the same man who would later rule Yugoslavia as a sharp dressed man with an iron fist. He was in fact a Russian spy —more specifically part Russian, part Ukrainian, he said.

Someone Vladimir Putin would like.

He sensed my disinterest, polite as it was, and wrapped it up after suggesting the switch to the phony Tito came in 1940 or 1941.

“We won’t know the truth for a long time,” he said. “That won’t become public for another two hundred years.”

Among the offerings on the table next to the Tito as Hero book were two pairs of colorful high-heeled shoes. To lighten the conversation, I wanted to ask if any evidence existed to suggest that Tito was a cross dresser.

But when I turned around he was gone, leaving his books, shoes and stall unattended and yet another question unanswered.

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Ljubljana, 12-Apr-2014

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Morning Mist, Gulf of Corcovado – Pic du Jour

Morning Mist Gulf of Corcovado, Chile

This is facing west towards the Gulf of Corcovado in Chaiten, the southern Chilean town that was destroyed by a volcanic eruption in 2008. This is how I described that morning scene in this notebook entry posted from the ruined town last year:

A heavy fog blanketed Chaiten the morning after I arrived, so I had little idea what the town and its surroundings looked like. To the west, directly in front of my hotel’s doors, the wall of fog made it impossible to gauge how far from the road, presumably a seaside road, the Gulf of Corcovado actually was. When the mist started to lift over the Gulf, first to appear was a set of ten relatively new exercise machines, forlornly staring at the invisible seas. Next, a gloomy lunar landscape began to emerge; large gray sandbars at first, then the debris they were littered with: dead trees, branches and brush of various shapes and sizes and portions of homes washed away by the raging river. When the fog dissipated, the edge of the Gulf finally appeared, about a half mile into the distance. Between the road and the coastline sat thousands of tons of ash and mud that the flooded river dumped into the gulf.

Previous posts from and about Chaiten are here, here, here, here and here.

Snapped on 03-Mar-2013

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