Saturday, December 23, 2017

From Bogota to the Caribbean: Colombia, Colombia!

Me in Cartagena, Colombia
I stayed one night in Bogota; ate at a vegetarian restaurant, which was very good; and then I took a flight to Cartagena, Colombia - which lies at the Caribbean. I had a terrible flight with Viva Colombia. I cannot recommend them, as they employ predatory and potentially illegal methods to make profits. (They forced me to pay an extra luggage fee, even though my luggage fit in their guidelines. They said or else - we don't let you board; it was a form of blackmail.) The passenger next to me tried to calm me down, but when she started asking me personal questions - I got upset again and shut her out.

When I got off the plane, I breathed in the air, which was was balmy and hot, and I felt good and happy. I was finally at a place with heat and sunshine. It was the first time in months that I could wear shorts and flip flops again. Taxis were expensive into town, but a motorbike offered me a ride. He wanted $2, but I had to place my luggage on my lap as he rode into town. Imagine being on a bike with your carry on luggage on your lap.

Once I got to the hostel, the hostel owner lied about the room I was getting. Then the owner starts arguing with me over chat. I was not having a good day. Not a fun start to my trip.

I called my German friend Tobi over my iPhone camera. He smiled to see me and that made me smile too. I just told him how everything was going wrong today, and he started laughing and that made me laugh and calm me down. That helped a lot. Laughing is a good thing.

And all wasn't that bad. Breakfast was good.

There, I met some bikers from America, who offered me some rum. That was nice of them. A few were from Oregon. One was from Florida. Apparently, they were all riding their bikes down from the United States all the way to the bottom of Argentina, where the boats leave to Antartica. Because they were nice, I gave the Oregon group my tour book for Peru - where they were headed off to. We were a little American group, and I haven't had that experience on this trip.

I moved to a hostel across the street, which was inhabited by Argentinian gypsies. I liked it better there. The owner and I have a coffee every day and talk. It's a good way to start the day.

But one day . . .

The police raided our place. This was because one of the gypsies hates the Colombian cops, who harass him for juggling on the streets. So, he stole a copper's helmet, and the copper got tape of him entering the hostel. So, they decided to raid it.

I saw the owner with the cops talking outside. I asked the guests what happened. They told me. I researched Colombian law and founded they needed a warrant.

After introducing myself as an American lawyer (something I don't remember doing once in my Sabbatical) - I told them that they needed a warrant, unless it was an emergency. And losing a helmet is not an emergency.

We got into a discussion. They knew they were wrong, but being Colombian coppers - they didn't leave. One cop said that the stolen helmet constituted an emergency. The other one, who was more cleve,  said that the house wasn't totally private, because it was open to rent to guests. I didn't know if we could film them but that would have been best, as I told them again they needed a warrant. And once the helmet was recovered, that's it. The investigation was finished. Anyways, they shut down the gypsy house for five days.

In any event, I was eating every day at French Restaurant in the district of Getsemani, which used to be the area slaves lived in. (Getsemani gets its name from the garden in which Jesus suffered so much that the Gospels say he sweated blood.) It's now where all the tourists are. I order the shrimp ceviche - which is divine with mangos and coconut milk. I can't imagine shrimp being cooked any other way now - as acid preserves the delicate texture of the shrimp.

I called my mom and told her that I spend too much on shrimp ceviche. She told me that I only live once and to enjoy. I smiled at hearing that.

She also told me Jeh Pan has a new best friend named Jeffrey (another cat), who comes over every day. Apparently, Jeffrey wants to play with Jeh Pan every day, but Jeh Pan bores of him.

Back to Cartagena. Cartagena has a rich history, but I haven't learned about it yet. I know that it was one of three cities in Latin America, where the Catholic Church and the Spanish could conduct its Spanish Inquisition - the other two being Mexico City and Lima. It also seems like the place is full of bling, bling, money, cocaine, and prostitutes. (It's also hard for me to believe I'm only three hours away from Florida.)

What do I do here? When I'm not investigating the corrupt City of Baldwin Park - I go to the beach and swim in the warm Caribbean water. The only thing I don't like about this place is that the sun sets early here - around 6PM. The one thing I love and will always remember is the gentle and fresh sea breeze that blows throughout the streets.

I guess I won't be coming home for Christmas. I'll be spending it with gypsies. I'll tell you how that goes.

a Jeh Pan tattoo

Best chicken I ever had - look at the texture inside. Cooked blackened - Caribbean style.

Me at the beach again
Shrimp Ceviche with plantain chips

Me happy writing in a cafe.

Me at the beach again

Cartagena at night, note all the yachts

Cartagena at sunset 

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