Medellin’s annual Book and Culture Festival (Fiesta del Libro y La Cultura) is currently running from September 10th through the 19th in the botanical gardens (El Jardin Botanico de Medellin).
Entry is free, and the easiest way to get there is to take the metro to the Universidad station.
One of my new Colombian friends, Carolina, invited me to join her and friends for a tango concert that was happening as part of the program of events.
The botanical gardens were packed with people taking advantage of the overcast, but thankfully rain-free weather.
Tents were set up with activities for all ages, from kids to comic book loving teens and adults.
The majority of books being sold by stores and universities were in Spanish, however there were some in English being sold by one of the cities larger English language schools.
Their offerings included classics by Ernest Hemmingway, and more pop culture oriented books like those from the Twilight series.
In true stereotypical fashion, I walked away with a book called Out of Captivity, Surviving 1,967 Days in the Colombian Jungle by Marc Gonsalves, Keith Stansell, and Tom Howes.
It’s about three American civilian contractors whose helicopter was shot down over the Colombian jungle, where they were then captured and held hostage by FARC.
I paid face 35,000 pesos ($19), or a little more than face value for it. Despite the dramatic theme, it felt good to buy a book seeing as how I was at a book festival!
After walking around the grounds for awhile, we went back to the main stage where the Argentine tango trio from Cordoba played with the backing of a large orchestra.
Each song was met at the end with a round of applause from the crowd seated on the grass. When the show ended, they announced that the trio would be performing again, without the orchestra, about an hour later.
The second performance was more intimate, however there wasn’t enough seating so we camped out on the ground, right up front.
I haven’t been exposed to much tango music, however I appreciate how people can become fanatics, especially if they’ve experienced it first hand in Argentina.
If you’re in Medellin this week, check out the Book and Culture Festival.
It’ll be less crowded during the weekdays, however there will probably be more events on the agenda during the coming weekend.