Andrés Cárdenas

🇨🇴 Thinking out-loud about Free software, privacy, Football & Rock music.

The Website & Me

Archives from a personal experiment on Internet interactions and online identity.

kandr3s' avatars over the years

This website has gone through many changes over the years, in terms of software, name, design and focus. As a self-proclaimed autodidact this place constitutes an extension of myself and as such it remains under continuous development.

It started out as the Tumblog of a angsty teenager from a remote Colombian village. In the middle of nowhere, lacking opportunitties and much worse “not fitting in” I decided to write online as an exercise to learn English.

Screenshot of the old archived version of this website

The earliest version of the website was hosted on Tumblr and used one of their themes, but it wasn’t easy to change the UI and soon enough I found myself learning to build my own HTML and CSS themes.

While I shared my translated writings I learned the basics of JavaScript building an ugly “What I’m Listening” widget. Here’s how it looked back in 2015:

Screenshot of this website when it used a custom Tumblr theme

Because documenting my music discoveries has always been an essential part of this website and therefore my life I still remember fondly the days of reblogging MP3 files on Tumblr ❤️  In fact, it was there that through likes, comments and a mutual love for Syd Barrett I made a dear friend from Poland.

I kept blogging on and off about whatever interested me at the time, switching back and forth between Wordpress and Ghost and eventually learning the basics of PHP and MySQL.

While minimalism was trending and my approach to it boomed due to never having much anyways, frustrations in the village just grew. It’s hard to talk about this period even today, but suffice to say that in the region as soon as you’re big enough to carry a rifle the right-wing gangs present you with an offer you can’t refuse: join us or disappear. I was able to avoid such dangers but members of my family didn’t have the same luck. And when many of the kids I grew up with started to disappear (killed or escaping the village at night) it hit me:

“Am I going to live in fear shoveling mud on a mine 7 days a week for the rest of my life like my father and his father before him?”

Shoveling Mud

Diary of a young man working in a gold mine.

I really wanted to escape. I couldn’t understand how my friend from Tumblr wanted to come for a visit. Was she crazy? Indeed, she came to visit and suddenly it wasn’t just me pulling the bootstraps, I had a girlfriend that also wanted me out. And with a few bucks in my pocket and eager to find a job, I arrived in Medellín.

I took the first available position as a customer service representative for a Spanish company. Due to Colombia-Spain timezone differences it meant I had to work the night shift, but I didn’t care.

The van would pick me up just past midnight and we’d drive around the city for almost 2 hours picking up other workers that, like me lived in the poorest neighborhoods of the city.

Long-gone are the Escobar gangs depicted in Netflix’s Narcos that I often get asked about nowadays, but during those hours everyone’s out with their pockets filled. .38s, pipes, spoons and knives… Medellín is still a jungle at night. As people say there: “I’ve seen everything and nothing at all”, never rang so true because not even the jungle prepared me for the racism I experienced from Spaniards at that job. I should’ve paid more attention to my uncle asking me to check those Prisioneros cassettes warning Latinos about it.

Thank you for calling…

How to survive the night shift in a call center.

It wasn’t just the name-calling, I for one am proud of "Sudaca", but I couldn’t believe that so many of these people with access to books and education were so hateful towards someone on the phone whose skin color they couldn’t even see.

I couldn’t take it anymore, even though I was unsure of my English it became a catalyst and I applied for a promotion to the speaking English branch. I was over the moon when it turned out to be great because guess what? Not even once did I have to experience that non-sense and a steady income meant now I had prospects of immigrating.

Those years learning English by writing cringey poetry online finally paid off. And then the pandemic hit us all.

Self-isolation, the psychological burden of COVID and the thought of having lost the one chance to get out eventually caught up with me and to avoid going crazy I read Burroughs’ Yage Letters and once again looked for comfort on this website. Learning about the IndieWeb became an escape.

I built, scrapped and rebuilt this project while improving my knowledge of Static Site Generators and finally learning to use Git and hosting on Netlify.

I moved from dealing with people over the phone to automating data in Excel spreadsheets for an US-based company also during the night shift 🥱 as boring as that was it allowed me to work remotely and finally travel to meet my girlfriend’s family.

When you work the night shift you’re mostly a zombie, but the arrival in Europe meant I was on regular 9 to 5 and that enabled me to experience so many things for the first time. Among those was the joy of cross-country traveling which might sound like nothing to most people, but when I was a kid it used to take us up to 12 hours to visit grandma, and she lived in the next town 60 kms away, today it’s “only” a 5 hours drive, but of course traveling across Europe seemed wild to me.

I’m now settled in 🇵🇱 Poland with 🐈 Billy Evąs and of course, my friend from Tumblr. Even though building a Jekyll-IndieWebsite taught me so much (and it lives as the Retro version for archive purposes) I found out rather quickly that the bits and pieces I had carefully crafted weren’t as easy to maintain on the go, so I switched to GoBlog and once again I find myself with the need to learn in order to update my website. So on we Go with this web experiment I simply call: kandr3s.

Andrés Cárdenas
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