Seeing my whole life rush before my eyes ten times a day. It is averaging out at four homicidal assaults a day. Not too grateful for this. I mean, the story aint so interesting. I don’t need to be repeatedly reminded thanks very much. Christmas in Colombia is a month of booze and more booze. Have a drink have a drive. It is wild.
See three wrecks on the way to Cali. Two in the ditches, one driven up on the metal side-fence. The car is gently swaying in the wind, balanced on its ripped undercarriage. Twenty-four carat Italian Job. Four wheel drive to no wheel drive. I feel its pain. The wide-eyed driver is beyond suffering. Not hurt, just sharing the fate of his car, absolutely smashed.
The staff warn me not to leave the hotel after dark. Yeah, but what about my trip to the carnival? Imprisonment in an air-conditioned box is not what I had in mind. I escape with Paula from reception playing diminutive bodyguard. We watch the world go by on Sexto Street, half of it tottering on four-inch heels. It is a bit like being in a giant Christina Aguilera video. So this is why the boys talk so fondly of Colombia.
Get to the Ecuador frontier on the 31st December. Ten in the morning. Everyone is very friendly. Very friendly indeed. The conversation’s fumes are a fire hazard. The whisky bottle on the office table has been empty a good while. But never was bureaucratic refusal done with such warm-hearted bonhomie. I make half a dozen friends for life but don’t get through the border. “Ask anything of us amigo, anything but that.” I turn around and do my last hour in reverse. I push the bike backwards to make my point. Nothing is quite as petty as the rage of the defeated man.
Recompense time. I take a room in the top hotel in town. There is a hot water bottle in the bed, Ché on the wall and a huge painting of a Palestinian youth in the dining room. Really big. A rock in one hand, in the other a flag. His T-shirt says one word: Jerusalem. The building’s owner tells me of his high regard for Lenin and Trotsky. Yeah, this country is a bit different.
Evening takes its sweet time to arrive. “I just can’t get you outta my head…” is blasting through the walls. The windows shake a dzzdzzdzz mzzhuhmzmzz for the big bass notes. This was great favourite in Thailand too. I take my hangdog face downstairs. The girl at reception keeps giving me rum shots and big smiles. I must have had two dozen. I return to my room for a breather and pass out on the bed. It is an all-too-brightly-lit 2004 when I next open my eyes.
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