They Sell Porn Next to Churches

I am in downtown Medellin Colombia, a completely different world than my former home. Every time I visit a country, there is always an acclimation period. Colombia is no different.

I am used to haggling store owners, it’s all over Asia. Whenever they see white, they see dollar signs. Medellin is quite different. They haggle you by yelling at you through loud-speakers that are so old the crackling sound hurts my ear. I make my way through stalls of shoes (for some unknown reason shoes are everywhere in Medellin), trinkets, and cheap plastic toys.

Despite the number of vendors, downtown Medellin is actually a nice place to visit, once. There is a lot of history in Medellin that my tour guide explains. We bombard him with questions about what it was like to live in 20 years ago during the Pablo Escobar era. He doesn’t fluff any of his answers, he wants us to experience the real Medellin, both good and bad.

He tells us a story about how his uncle was kidnapped by the rebels and held for ransom for an entire year before his family was able to pay. Crazy. It makes me feel so sheltered to come from the States, sad at the same time. I get that feeling I get sometimes when I’m being a little white empowered bitch. You know that feeling, the feeling of entitlement and shock that something so atrocious could happen and you don’t know anything about it.

We make our way through the stalls down a street to a large pavilion with a beautiful church.

“Come closer, look, at that,” as he points to a row of shops adjacent to the church. Too far to see from where we are, he explains that we are about to walk by rows and rows of porn vendors.

“Don’t look if you don’t want to.”

As we walk by, I glance down at all of the DVD’s lain out in plain sight. I can’t help but notice they are all in English and not Spanish. He explains to us that all of the churches in larger cities like Medellin are hubs for selling porn and for men to solicit women.

Inside the church, bells are ringing and families are sitting down in their nicest attire for Sunday Mass.

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