Me perdí en Medellín

Book Title Me perdií en Medellín (I got lost in Medellin)
Author(s) Adriana Ramírez
Illustrator(s) Santiago Aguirre
Other Contributors
Published by Self-published
Genre Realistic Fiction
Publication date 2019
#Ownvoices YES
From the author/publisher’s website
Level 2

Total Word Count

Illustrations                 YES 
Glossary                       YES  
Guiding Questions      NO  
Context                        YES

Races, Ethnicities, and Nationalities

Languages spoken

Sex and Genders
Male (main characters)

Young Adult: 18-35
Mid-life Adult: 35-65
Senior Adult: 65+

Social classes
Middle Class

Sexual Orientation


Catholic (mention of a catholic church and a festival in honor of a saint)

Family Structures
Extended family

Body Type

From the author/publisher’s website 

Muchos libros culturales están enfocados en lugares turísticos famosos, esos que salen en las revistas periódicos y canales de YouTube, y a los que todo el mundo va. Pero pocos son los que hablan de los valores culturales, de las costumbres y de la forma de ser de los habitantes del lugar. Y son estas formas de ser, estas costumbres y estos valores los que impactan a los que vienen de afuera. Son estos los que hacen que la gente quiera volver.

Medellín tiene lugares turísticos muy reconocidos, sin embargo, lo que más llama la atención de los visitantes no son estos lugares sino su gente. Este es el espíritu del libro, mostrar la calidad humana de los colombianos, y en este caso específico, de los habitantes de Medellín: los paisas. 

Many cultural books focus on famous tourist places, those depicted in magazines and YouTube channels, and those that the whole world goes to. But few speak about cultural values, customs, and the inhabitants of a place. And these ways of being, traditions, and values impact those that come from abroad. They are those that make the people want to return. 

Medellín has well recognized tourist places, however, what most calls the attention of visitors is not the places, but the people. This is the spirit of the book, to show the human qualities of Colombians, and in this specific case, of the citizens of Medellín, los paisas. 
To what extent do the illustrations present positive and thoughtful representations of identities?

Andrew, from Vancouver, is portrayed as wearing clothing often representative of a stereotypical tourist: shorts and sandals with socks.

Andrés, from the city of Medellín, is portrayed wearing pants, a long-sleeved shirt, and tennis shoes. 

The two female cousins of Andrés, also from the city, are portrayed wearing a dress, and the other wearing a tank top and capri length pants.

There is evidence of color evasiness in the illustrations.  The illustrations default to whiteness because they are line drawings and do not have shading, which means that all characters depicted have the same white skin tone.  There is a missed opportunity to demonstrate the diversity of skin tones in Colombia.

The author has reached out to us and indicated that as of 01.30.2022, the characters’ skin tones have been updated to reflect the diversity of Colombia.
We understand identities are complex and no single story represents the spectrum of identity-based experiences. Also, a text may address a stereotype, misrepresentation, or generalization without relying on it.

Does any stereotype, misrepresentation, or generalization affect any positive and thoughtful representations of identities in the text?

This section is for teachers who are working towards sourcing more texts within the four domains of anti-bias education. We are excited about reading all books and we understand that not all books are written for this specific purpose. 

Does this text work toward goals within any of the four domains of anti-bias education as defined by Learning for Justice

Identity: Promote a healthy self-concept and exploration of identity
Diversity: Foster intergroup understanding

Me perdí en Medellín is a book for Level 2 Spanish. Andrew, a tourist from Vancouver, Canada is visiting Medellín, Colombia with a group of friends. He becomes lost and approaches a local man, Andrés, for help in returning to his hotel. Andrew states that he cannot afford a taxi and cannot understand the instructions to use the local bus, and Andrés offers him a ride back to the hotel if Andrew is willing to run some errands with him. 

The book narrates Andrew’s interactions with Andrés and other people from Medellín, including Andrés’ extended family, and Andrew’s thoughts and observations about cultural products, practices, and perspectives that are different from his own. 

The author provides a prologue that provides some context for the book stating that many books are focused on famous tourist locations, and while Medellín is also a tourist destination, that this book calls attention to the people of Medellín, los paisas. 

Andrew makes connections between his culture and Andrés’ culture throughout the book. One example is when Andrew learns more about how some children live at home with their parents until they are married (p.47 De pronto es lo normal en tu cultura. Pero aquí lo normal es que vivamos en nuestras casas, con nuestros padres, hasta que nos casemos, y esto incluye ir a la universidad y trabajar por varios años después / Perhaps it is normal in your culture. But here it’s normal that we live in our houses, with our parents, until we get married, and this includes going to university and working for a few years afterwards).

In chapter 7 ¿Dónde estabas?, Andrew returns to his hotel and learns that his friends are searching for him and have gone to the police for help in finding him. His friends believe that something bad has happened to him (p.73 –Que estaban desesperados y que gritaban histéricos / that they were desperate and they were shouting hysterically). And p. 76 when one of Andrew’s friends asks –¿Te pasó algo malo?). Considering the frequent portrayal of Colombia in the media as a dangerous place,  the book counteracts those images with Andrew’s response that he is okay and his excitement to tell his friends about the events of his day (p.76 -Me perdí en Medellín, parceros… –les dijo Andrew mientras los volvía a abrazar y les daba una palmaditas en la espalda–, tengo que contarles todo. Fue un día muy especial / I got lost in Medellín, friends… said Andrew while he hugged them again and gave them pats on the back, I have to tell you everything. It was a very special day.

Andrew reflects on cultural practices through language comparisons as well, including reflecting on how “-ito” and “-ita” indicate affection. The concept of the “diminutivo afectivo” is shown through the story in moments like, “le daba palmaditas en el hombro” (pg 52), or the moment of referring to a coffee barista as “Jimenita” (pg 19).  The narration vs. description moments serve as entry points to talk about these cultural concepts in a level 2 or 3 class. 

The story also has various components of vocabulary that are unique to the region but are also understood by Spanish speakers from other countries. A helpful aspect is the “Colombianismos” being relevant and contextualized in the story. An example of a “Colombianismo” can be seen with the concept of “tintico” (little tint) for black coffee (p. 18), and Andrew learning that tinto also means “red wine” in other countries. Another “Colombianismo” can be the idiom “parcero”, which is a “paisa” way to refer to a friend/acquaintance. This is an opportunity for the reader to understand the ways slang is used in Spanish-speaking countries.

Finally, many instances and interactions between Andrew and Andres’ extended family illustrate the role that the extended family plays in Andres’ daily life. The values of this particular family are demonstrated in their interactions with a non-Colombian visitor, opening explorations of trust and how to be a good host/guest in Colombian culture. The moments where Andrew was meeting the “abuelita” or Andrés’ extended family show the importance of hospitality and caring for one another. Throughout the chapters showing Andrés’ family (chapters 5 and 6), the female members of the family set the tone and the example of Medellín’s ideal values. One example of this can be seen in page 59 where Andrew is greeted with open arms and the quintessential Colombian dish: La Bandeja Paisa, which is a statement of Colombian culinary pride.

The main character, Andrew, is a Canadian tourist traveling in Colombia (p.9 No soy de aquí. Soy un turista / I’m not from here. I’m a tourist.) and he is depicted as wearing clothing often associated with a stereotypical tourist: shorts, sandals with socks (p.9 Además tenía bermudas, y sandalias con medias, y ningún habitante de la ciudad llevaba ni bermudas ni sandalias con medias. Toda la gente de la ciudad se vestía muy bien / Additionally, he had shorts, and sandals with socks, and no inhabitant of the city would wear shorts or sandals with socks.) 

An aspect that teachers may need to pay attention to can be seen in chapter 3 “Los besos”; Andrew is greeted by two young women (whom he later learns are cousins of Andrés). Andrew is unfamiliar with the custom of giving “besos” and believes that the women are interested in him romantically.  (p.30 … pero pensé que estaban muy interesadas en mí por la forma cómo me saludaron. Se me acercaron mucho / but I thought that they were very interested in me by the way they greeted me.) In this example, the cultural practice of greeting someone with besos is misinterpreted as attraction. The debrief between Andrew and Andrés regarding this practice takes some time, as Andrew continues to be confused. Eventually, despite Andrés’ explanations, Andrew acknowledges he can’t pay attention to what these women are saying because he is looking at them (“O las miras o pones atención a lo que dicen / Either you look at them or you listen to them,” p. 30). This response lends itself to a sexist trope that the way women act and what they wear is distracting from the content of what they are saying. This is the only place in the story where Andrew’s attitude departs from being a confused but respectful tourist who is willing to learn unfamiliar cultural practices. Since this particular reaction goes unchallenged in the narration (Andrès continues to laugh), teachers may wish to debrief this specific interaction with students.

01.30.2022: The author has reached out to LLLAB and the last paragraph has been updated by adding more context to our original review.

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