May 16, 2006 GMT
What do you call a soldier with a gun?

The first part of the ride to Medellėn was great - friendly locals at petrol and coffee stops, no rain, decent road. Then I was stopped at an army checkpoint.

A young soldier insisted he wanted to search the panniers. I couldn't get off the bike where I was because of the adverse camber, so he smilingly gestured me backwards apparently to a place I could get the sidestand down. Still smiling, he waved me further until the back wheel disappeared into a ditch and the bike and I fell over.

I crawled out from under, went right up to him and said "You're a complete shit. How dare you treat a grandmother like that." Then I slapped his face, he dropped his gun, and all the onlookers applauded (including the other soldiers).

I went on my way rejoicing.

When I arrived in Medellėn (soaked to the skin and in the dark, as usual) I found the customary mad feeder-road-and-impenetrable-one-way-system arrangement and got completely lost (again as usual). I was stopped at the side of a feeder road consulting maps by penlight and a pair of nice young heavily-armed policemen arrived on a Suzuki 650 trailie. I explained where I wanted to go, and after a little radio discussion they said "Siganos" which means "Follow us." And they led me at a perfectly reasonable speed to the hotel I wanted in the city centre. We had nice chats when we stopped for traffic lights (they do that here). And when we got to the hotel I gave them both a hug and a kiss. The hotel staff were boggling - I don't think they'd seen that before.

Apparently I'm supposed to tell the Embassy I'm here, but they don't answer the phone so I can't.

Posted by Cynthia Milton at May 16, 2006 07:34 PM GMT
 
 

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