She shakes her sternly with the finality of a nightclub doorman...
The bed is a treat. A foam mattress. The favourite of bed bugs everywhere--they adore the way it absorbs and holds all the juices. The frame has metal bar crosspieces positioned perfectly for maximum discomfort. I have just taken the doors off the wardrobe with my leatherman (there is a special attachment) and slid them underneath to stop the bruising. I still leave an imprint on the mattress like where a body falls onto concrete in cartoons, but sleep is now possible.
Otherwise I like Panama City okay. What a mix of people. The café latte coloured future of humanity.
Panama has the biggest...
...differences of wealth in the world.
Photos: Didier Martin
My face must be a picture. I am standing at the Avianca check-in desk. The bike’s already flown to Bogota. My flight there goes in 45 minutes. ‘I need a what? No, no, Ireland’s in Europe. European Union. No necisisito visa por European Union. Ireland in Europa’. She shakes her sternly with the finality of a nightclub doorman. You aint getting in mate. And sure enough, twenty minutes of phone calls and computer punching later, I aint getting in. My two friends are on their way to gate 15 and I am left asking around if anyone knows where the Colombian consulate is.
It seems the US doesn’t want the wrong sort of Irish in Colombia. So I go along with all my documents to prove that I am made of the right stuff, begorrah. Not the political type at all. The underlings won’t deal with me. I am directed to the consul. She’s advising God. I wait until she’s finished putting him straight. Usual set-up, big office, wide wooden desk with the window behind so I squint into the white light that emanates from around her beatific person.
She’s not a happy woman. ‘You want to ride your motorcycle through Colombia?’ Well that’s the idea. So I nod, smile and say yes. She asks again, just in case yes means something else in my culture, like ‘are you mad, I wouldn’t be seen dead in your armpit of the world you call a country; I would rather be imprisoned for a decade with Leeds Utd footballers’. So that’s an affirmative good buddy, gonna let me in then?
Second time around it provokes a long pause that gives us both time to reflect. I recall that priests do this a lot. And academics. Maybe she has a point. ‘I want to ride my motorcycle through Colombia.’ Hmmm, now I think about it, there is something not quite right about this phrase. I have a week to ponder on it while I await my next audience.Posted by at December 12, 2003 04:58 PM GMT
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