Saturday, June 26, 2010

The Kid

There's a kid, maybe 10 years old who I ran into the first time I arrived in El Poblado in Janurary. He was in the corner with some of his wanna-be thug looking youngsters. "You want coke man?" He asked in poor English. After I turned him down he asked if I wanted a variety of other drugs including heroin. "Heroin?" I asked, (not doubting his or his buddies ability to find some) "who on earth does heroin?" "Old people." He quickly added: "rich old people." I noticed one of his buddies was also selling chicle so I asked how much. 5,000 pesos? No wonder they are selling drugs, they are charging 5 times as much as anyone else for chicle. But who am I to lecture them bad business, after all, these are youngsters from the poor hillside neighborhoods and must be making more money than their parents by selling drugs to gringos.

I bought the gum for 5,000 and headed off. However, the next night, the same kid, this time by himself found me and asked me if I wanted drugs again. "I like gum remember??" He then tried to sell me another 5,000 peso pack of gum. I told him that the price was a rip off and bargained him down to 3,000. Every single night I've gone out in El Poblado, this kid manages to find me, no matter where I am.  This time, he's actually schlepping around a big box of chewing gum and I also notice a tiny sun tattoo on his hand just below his thumb. I want to ask how he's doing, where he's from, does he live with his parents, etc. But I don't know that might be too much for him, especially in a place where most gringos like me he talks to just want drugs.

Everywhere else I've gone in Medellín, I've never been offered drugs. But the massive quantity of drug-seeking tourists that stay and party in Poblado create the demand-side economics of kids selling drugs there. At least I'm starting to notice a new inflow of tourists who are interested in the hundreds of other things to do in Medellín besides drugs. Until we start seeing more, I guess I'll continue to haggle over overpriced chicle with the Kid.

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