BONUS EPISODE: PORT OF PIRAEUS REFUGEE CAMP

A Quick Note Regarding the Re-release of This Bonus Episode 

As some of you may have seen, we had to originally take down this episode due to the concerns of those that were involved in the making of it. With the permission of all those involved, we are able to re-launch the episode by tweaking certain aspects. As stated in the original post, we stand 100% behind the podcast content and the intention to give a platform to a voice that has often been silenced throughout the crisis. We also deeply care about the people we met while in Greece and we cannot begin to try and understand how difficult the situation is for them and their family. We carry them in our hearts every day. We remain passionate about bringing awareness to the refugee crisis in a way we think will hit home with people and move them to act. We hope this updated episode does just that. 

<3,
The El Camino Team


"I am starting from zero, but it's no problem, that's okay. The number one thing is that my family is safe - I will always find a way."

We launched our podcast earlier this year with an insider’s guide to off-the-beaten-path experiences in Mexico City. This episode is much different than our usual beat, as it comes from the heart of a refugee camp in Greece.

You’ve heard the stories about millions of refugees from Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, and other locations in the Middle East searching for asylum in Europe and beyond. 

We knew we had to do more than just watch as the news of these refugees poured in. This spring, we organized a small group of volunteers to help in whatever ways possible at the Port Piraeus Refugee Camp outside Athens. There we met Omar*, who arrived in Greece a few weeks before, already having lost his home, his business, his money, and his safety. Despite having little to call his own, he volunteered to organize the camp's supply distribution center and acted as a translator.

We talked with Omar as we sorted clothing donations and toured the makeshift camp where he shares a two-person tent with his wife and young children. 

His story is heart wrenching, and it’s a critical reminder that behind the news stories that show masses of nameless refugees, there are actually countless individuals like Omar with families, desires for a safe life, and their own unique stories.  

You can listen to the episode now.

If you’d like to learn more about  the crisis, our time working in the refugee camps, and how you can help Omar and his family, our team of volunteers has collected resources and volunteer details that can be found here

*We have changed the name of the individual who is interviewed in this podcast to protect his identity. 

Interested In Donating to the Crisis? 

Our team has decided to raise $10,000USD for an organization that we initially volunteered with, Together For Better Days. We were all blown away by the dedication of the volunteers, and the organization of the camp infrastructure during our time spent there. We have full confidence in their capability and know that any funds being sent to them will be utilized in the best possible ways as they move their operations from Lesvos to the mainland of Greece where a large portion of the refugee population is concentrated. They will need your support to do this, and you can contribute here.

This episode was produced with the help of Serena Kefayah and Briana De Marco Pearl

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MEDELLIN

 

You might already know that Medellin, Colombia was once one of the most violent cities in the world, infamous in the early 1990s for it’s drug cartel leader Pablo Escobar. We won’t delve into this part of history, though, because there’s so much more to the city.

Instead we’re going to talk about the remarkable renewal of Medellin in the early 2000’s that turned the city into a renowned symbol of success for social transformation and urban planning.

In this episode, you’ll hear from a photojournalist who has spent his whole career covering the ongoing social conflict of the country, a designer who partners with Colombian indigenous communities to create ornate jewelry pieces, and an entrepreneur whose business model is quickly disrupting the local coffee culture.

Click play to hear their stories, plus their tips for what to see, do, and eat in Medellin. 

Music throughout this episode was provided by Explosión Negra and the hip hop group at Casa Kolacho

This episode was produced by Serena Kefayeh and Briana Pearl


FEDERICO RIOS PHOTOJOURNALIST

 

Why are we fascinated by him?

He tells stories you won’t see anywhere else, like this transgender beauty pageant deep in the Amazon jungle.

He travels via boat/plane/donkey/etc. to reach far-flung destinations.  #transputamierda

And finally: he’s sharing with the world his nuanced, transformative stories of Colombia through outlets like the New York Times. See below for a sample of his photos published around the world. 

Listen to the episode to hear about his favorite spot in Medellin to snap a few shots of the sunrise. 

 

"THE CITY IS MUCH MORE OPEN NOW. YOU CAN TRAVEL AROUND THE CITY. THE GOVERNMENT HAS MADE A BIT EFFORT, BUT THE PEOPLE FROM MEDELLIN ARE MAKING AN ENORMOUS EFFORT TO OPEN THEIR HEARTS."


PEDRO ENCHAVARRIA, OWNER OF CAFE PERGAMINO

Why we’re fascinated by him:

You might already be drinking his coffee! Pedro works with Blue Bottle, Stumptown, and Vigilante Coffee.

He’s all about breaking the longstanding cycle of rural poverty. Step one: creating well-paying jobs for everyone involved in Pedro’s coffee beans, from the field workers to the servers at his cafe. 

He has pride for his city. “We have this pioneer mentality, because we were kind of stranded in the middle of a freaking mountain,” he says.

Pedro tipped us off to a valley in the middle of the mountains about four hours outside the city  Urrao, Antioquia. Tourists don’t typically end up there, but it’s an opportunity to see a part of rural Colombia and enjoy a cup of coffee. 

"COFFEE IS A VERY ACCESSIBLE LUXURY. IT'S ABOUT CREATING EXPERIENCES FOR PEOPLE THAT GO BEYOND JUST SHARING A CUP OF COFFEE BUT UNDERSTANDING WHERE THAT COFFEE COMES FROM."


MARIA PAULINA ARANGO DESIGNER OF MAKUA

 

Why are we fascinated by her?

She’s multitalented. Before designing jewelry, she studied architecture, designed swimsuits for Victoria’s Secret, and worked the fashion worlds of Paris and Buenos Aires. 

Her designs with indigenous groups across the country are original, gorgeous, and truly collaborative. We love these necklaces

She mixes old and new: these pieces combine centuries-old designs and traditions from indigenous groups with modern styles. 

For more Colombian designs, Maria Paulina recommends you visit Medellin concept store, Makeno.

 

“WHEN THESE DIFFICULT MOMENTS STOPPED, EVERYTHING STARTED TO GROW OUT FROM THE ASHES. IT WAS LIKE, WHAT ARE WE GOING TO DO WITH THIS BEAUTIFUL CITY, THE CITY OF ETERNAL SPRING?"

 


PRO TIP: ORDER THE BANDEJA PAISA WHEN VISITING MEDELLIN. 

elcamino-colombia-web.jpg

ILLUSTRATION BY: JACKIE DIEDAM

Ready to order bandeja paisa? Prepare for a plate filled with red beans, rice, shredded beef, fried pork belly, sausages, several fried eggs, arepas (Colombian corncakes), baked plantains,  and an avocado. We discuss the significance of the bandeja paisa in the episode.

If you're looking for the perfect spot in the city to try this dish, check out El Rancherito. It's Federico's favorite for bandeja paisa and other tradition Colombian dishes.

MEXICO CITY

In this episode we travel to Mexico City. You will hear from a Mezcal connoisseur who teaches us how to properly find and drink Mezcal, the operations director of a high fashion brand who empowers indigenous populations through high-end fashion, and a fourth generation legacy chef who is incorporating traditional Mexican ingredients (like bugs) into his dynamic menu.

Before we launch into that, we’ll start off each episode with three essential tips about the destination we’re covering to keep in mind on your next trip. Click play to hear your three for Mexico City.


ANDREA VILLELA
FOUNDER OF LA FIERA MEZCAL

Why are we fascinated by her?

She's Original: Andrea sources mezcal from Guerrero NOT Oaxaca. 

She Enlightens: Green Chile + Lemon + Mezcal = life changing to opening up your palate. 

AND finally, Andrea has a friend named Pinguino aka Penguin. 

She recommends that you sip on mezcales from Guerrero at the dive bar Bósforos.  

 

 

 

"THERE IS A SAYING THAT SAYS YOU SIP MEZCAL LIKE KISSES. YOU DO NOT TAKE IT LIKE A SHOT... YOU TAKE KISSED OF MEZCAL."


CRISTINA RANGEL
OPERATIONS DIRECTOR AT CARLA FERNANDEZ DESIGN 

Why are we fascinated by her? 

She's Brilliant: Cristina can talk the intricacies of business and international development like a boss. 

She Cares: Cristina is passionate about ensuring that her work leaves this world a better place. 

AND Cristina led us to her favorite burrito joint right around the corner from her office. 

She recommends that you check out La Lonja Mercantil to meet emerging local designers. 

 

"WE TRY TO STICK TO JUST WHAT WE KNOW HOW TO DO, WHICH IS CREATE EMPLOYMENT THROUGH WHAT THEY HAVE BEEN DOING FOR OVER 500 YEARS."

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"THE CHARROS ARE THE COWBOYS OF MEXICO. THEIR COSTUMES ARE MADE BY SKILLED TAILORS, ARTISANS AND FRETWORK CUTTING ARTISTS THAT SAW AND HAND-DRAW LEATHER DECORATING GARMENTS. THESE LEATHER PATCHES HAVE THE FUNCTION OF PROTECTING THE FABRIC FROM THE ROPES TYING WHEN CATTLE IS HOOKED, THAT WAY THE LEATHER WILL RECEIVE THE IMPACT AND THE FABRIC WILL NOT TEAR.

THE DRAWINGS ON THE LEATHER ARE A MIXTURE OF BAROQUE AND PRE-HISPANIC IMAGES. OUR DESIGNS COMBINE THESE TWO SIDES OF MEXICO, PLUS A FUTURISTIC ONE REINVENTED EVERY SEASON.

AT FIRST IT WAS A DIFFICULT COLLABORATION SINCE THE CODE OF HONOR OF THE CHARROS PROHIBITS THE CONFECTION OF MALE SUITS FOR WOMEN. GRADUALLY WE GAINED THEIR TRUST AND WE HAVE BEEN WORKING WITH THEM FOR OVER 8 YEARS, NOW SPECIFICALLY WITH THE WORKSHOP OF DON FIDEL MARTÍNEZ.

THE IMAGE OF THE CHARRO AND ITS SUIT SYMBOLIZE FOR MANY THE MASCULINITY OF THE MEXICAN MAN. FOR US IT SYMBOLIZES UNISEX MASCULINITY OF WHO CARRIES IT." --Video and excerpt from the Carla Fernandez website. 


JUAN PABLO BALLESTEROS
RESTAURANTEUR BEHIND LIMOSNEROS

Why are we fascinated by him? 

He's Adventurous: Juan Pablo uses untraditional ingredients like bugs in high end places. 

He's Detail Oriented: Juan Pablo is all about the details, the taste, the smell, the look of the whole experience. Nothing passes him. 

AND he got us to nom on some buggers like a champ. Enough said. 

Juan Pablo suggests getting the carnitas tacos at El Hidalguense, barbacao tacos at basement of Enrique's restaurant, and the Suadero, Campechano and Tripe tacos at Cocuyos. See the map to the left for exact locations. 

 

" Now it's time to look inside and really inside. That is what many chefs are doing. They are finally supporting Mexican fields. Because if we lose that, we lost everything. We lost our health. We lost our flavors. We lose our culture."


HOW TO PROPERLY ENJOY MEZCAL

And just in case you need a friendly reminder, save this illustration to your phone. It will help you not look like a fool when drinking that good sh*t. 

ILLUSTRATION BY: JACKIE DIEDAM

ILLUSTRATION BY: JACKIE DIEDAM

SPECIAL SHOUT OUTS 

Use the public transportation in Mexico City! It is very easy to use and environmentally friendly. 

Mexico City is named World Design Capital in 2018 by the prestigious International Council of Societies of Industrial Design. 

UNESCO names Mexican cuisine a cultural treasure.