13 de Noviembre, part of Comuna 8, is a barrio drunk on altitude. Sitting giddy at a lofty height of 1778m, it forms part of the eastern boundary to the valleyed Colombian city of Medellin.
At night, with the twinkling of city lights far below into the distance, all the colourful characters come out. Children roam the narrow streets freely, music blares out of bars. There is a real festival spirit to witness.
13 de Noviembre is thought of by many Colombians as a dangerous place, and I have no doubt that it was in the past, yet I have felt nothing other than welcome by its buoyant inhabitants' hospitality. Speaking to wealthier Colombians they cover their mouths in shock when I tell them I regularly visit at night. Part of the reason I chose to do this particular project there as a means of eulogising my fondness for the place. 13 de Noviembre was originally an illegal settlement and given absolutely no governmental assistance for years that even now 15% of the houses do not have running water or electricity. It is perched calamitously atop Comuna 8's almost impossibly steep hills where even the most basic items have to be carried up - it truly is back-breaking work. The neighbourhood itself is formed of bric-a-brac housing and largely with tin roofs. However, the main reason why I did this project was to try and stop those hand over mouth moments, where really it is a fear of the unknown than of an actual danger. For me, 13 de Noviembre is an testament into what can be done with little funding, basic materials and a community that helps one another and should be recognised as such.