I still can’t think of the Colombian city Medellín without automatically filling in the words “drug cartels” as in “Medellín drug cartels.” I think this speaks to the power of the American media in the 80s and 90s during the Reagan-initiated “war on drugs” since I know very little about that country otherwise.
Ironically, here I am traveling to Colombia, and specifically starting my trip in Medellín, and I’m delivering drugs to Medellín. Actually I’m delivering drugs to Cali, but since I won’t be visiting that city I mailed them from Medellín.
Are you wondering if the drug trade has changed so dramatically that Colombia now has to import what it used to export? Not exactly. Actually drug use in Colombia is apparently quite low relative to other countries like the United States (from my limited internet research on this subject). But I guess Aspirin, Ibuprofen and Acetaminophen are much cheaper at Costco in the U.S. than they are in Colombia. So I was contacted by an expat living in Cali after I posted my trip on PiggyBee offering to deliver stuff to folks in Colombia. He wanted me to buy him these things, and also some twizzlers (this didn’t make the cut as my carry on bag just didn’t have enough space for a Costco-sized tub of twizzlers.)
A note of caution, if you decide to do any crowdsourced delivery, be sure to first check out the import duty and tax laws of the country to which you are traveling. It’s on you if they search your luggage and ask you what you are doing with the stuff you’re carrying. I brought along the receipt from my purchase, but because I wasn’t selling them (I earned a very small amount in exchange for my trouble doing the shopping and shipping) I decided to just go through customs as personal use, though I would have paid a tax/fee if they stopped me.
It turns out, in Colombia possession of a small amount (a “personal dose”) of narcotic is legal. And on the streets my first day in Medellín I walked past more than one person in the shopping district selling marijuana and cocaine for medicinal use (“get rid of any kind of pain!”). I’m not sure this selling was legal, but they certainly weren’t hiding from the many police out on the streets. There were also restaurants and stands selling cocaine and marijuana products all around the city.
So I felt pretty good about my over the counter pain killer shipment by the time I boxed it up and took it to my local Servientrega in Medellín. The woman at the counter weighed the box and asked (in Spanish), “what are you shipping, is it medicine?” I guess she heard the pills rattling around in the bottles.
My only regret is not finding room for the twizzlers, I’m pretty sure they have medicinal value too.