Don’t travel on a Discount Airlines

For the first time ever we decided to take a discount airlines for a short getaway to Halifax. It was Flair Air btw.

It is true what they say: you get what you pay for and with discount airlines this is even more so.

Everything about our pre flight and boarding went as expected. Our plane even took off and landed on time and the flight itself went smoothly. I was relieved that we weren’t trapped on the tarmac for hours under the blazing August heat.

We get to baggage claim at Halifax’s airport pretty quickly. We have 30mins before we need to catch the bus from the airport to Halifax downtown. And if we
Missed this bus, we’d have to wait an hour to get the next one- which we didn’t want to do with 2 little kids in tow.

Many of the passengers who were in the same Flair Air flight as us, picked up their luggage from the West Jet carousel! Umm ok. So we wait there. We don’t see our old and trusty green bag.

We then move over and wait by the Flair Air carousel, which is empty still. The baggage claim area was steadily clearing out of people from our flight. Okkkk...but then the light turns on at the Flair Air carousel (other planes’ baggage’s will be coming there too) and we eagerly wait there. We keep an eye on the clock. Hmmm, we still have 15mins. Fortunately the bus stop is right outside the airport and the elevator to the exit is in front of us. No panic. Yet.

After 3-4 sad sacks roll down the Flair Air carousel, it stops. No green luggage with black smudges on it. Little one bursts into tears of hunger and impatience. Now we really panic.

And of course the clock is ticking ever closer to when the bus would leave. My husband is pacing back and forth between all the carousels with tension dogging his steps. I’m trying to remain calm for the kids and thinking of their clothes and diapers that I packed- many of the clothes which are firm favourites.

Of course we miss the bus. And also realize that our one luggage is nowhere to be found! I fill out a form with the Flair Air desk at Lost & Found with what must be a poorly trained 19yr Old, with lank and dirt hair, who really doesn’t give a f**k about looking professional let alone the job itself.

As of writing, our Halifax vacay is almost at an end; we have yet to be reunited with our luggage; Flair Air has sent just one courtesy email in response to our inquiry with no further info; and we have 3 change of clothes each.

I suppose you do realize how little you actually need when travelling when you are only running on 3 change of clothes. But, we also had to spend money on buying supplies and clothes, So we are now waiting for compensation.

Communa 13 in Medellin- An Urban Miracle

I confess: I feel uneasy about “urban revitalization projects”. It often stands for  “let’s push the original residents & businesses out and bring in another high-rise condo.” At least it’s that way in my hometown. 

But after witnessing Medellin’s transformation into a bustling, vivid, architecturally beautiful, politically safe, infrastructurally sound city- I have to change my mind about urban revitalization. The Medellin, which I had the pleasure of living in for a month, was a long way away from its one-time reputation as Pablo Escobar’s hometown (base of his Medellin Cartel) and the Murder Capital of the World. 

And nowhere is this urban revitalization more prominent than in the neighborhood of Communa 13- which was once so dangerous that police and military wouldn’t dare go in, otherwise they would be immediately attacked. Health workers working in government-run clinics would be kidnapped for ransom, as they were viewed as government agents, thus “enemy”. Classrooms had piercings from bullets and students would be dragged out of class, tortured and killed, if they were suspected of being “snitches”.

Various Anti-Government, paramilitary and Communist groups fought each other for control of the land and its peoples. The kidnapping, the murders, the rapes, the terrorizing in the Communa 13 neighborhoods in the early 1990’s-2000’s is detailed in the first-hand witness book, “District 13”. 

But after a decade plus of painful civic reflection and rebuilding- the Communa 13 neighborhood I saw was a youthful, vibrant place with hope teeming for a socially and economically prosperous future.

Mind you, there’s poverty still. Communa 13 isn’t a well-off neighbourhood.

But the people we met were welcoming, proud to show off their community to tourists from all over the world. Many use their dancing and singing talents to put on impromptu open-air performances. Many run businesses in the community catering to tourists, ensuring that income gets funnelled into this community. 

But what this neighborhood is most known for is it’s colourful graffiti, depicting it’s painful, blood-soaked and terrifying recent history and the hope for a better future for its children. Many of the graffiti talk about the government operation of “Orion” done in October 2002- which finally pushed out the rebel groups once and for all; however, at a great cost to innocent civilian lives. 

I have a few pictures here but you need to see it to believe the beauty of this visual historical retelling. 

To see more, you can check out Chota’s Instagram account. Chota grew up in this infamous neighborhood and went on to achieve worldwide fame for his graffiti art. He now gives back to the same community that raised him by running a very successful cafe, providing local jobs, commerce and a stage for young rappers (check out @chota_13)

Seeing Chota’s work in all its glory will make you go- “Banksy, who?”  


At the top of 7 escalators, taking you to the top of this hilly neighbourhood 


Tree of Life 


Chota’s graffiti art.