The core purpose of the Legal Lens is to expose corruption by reporting the truth. The Legal Lens strives to present ethical and high quality journalism and information for you. At times, the Legal Lens will also have food and travel commentary, which hopefully brings my experiences to you.
Sorry for not updating in awhile. I’ve been gone to a Colombian
island in the sun in the Caribbean again. Same one I went to with Tobi and
Alex. As you remember, I had no internet access last time. Even though I have
some internet access now, it’s still really limited, and I have to go into town
to update my blog, which I’m doing now. Because I can only update infrequently,
I have to combine my updates, which would usually be separate articles. Enjoy.
Tobi and me in Baru
I arrive at night into the island, because I wanted to enjoy the
food in Cartagena before I left. I ate the most wonderful risotto and drank two beautiful glasses of red
wine, at the same place where I had my favorite blackened chicken. I didn’t
like one of the guests at the hostel I was staying at.
I think she was doing cocaine. She was some European girl, maybe
26, who tried to look like a hippie, but I’m sure had rich parents. She braided
her hair in dreadlocks. She had tats everywhere and always smelled of cigarette
and marijuana smoke. She would go in and out of the room, while I was trying to
I counted once. She went in and out of the room five times in one
hour. I was pretty sure she was high on cocaine – like a good number of people
in this city.
When I arrived to the island, I was stopped by two police
officers. One was Hispanic and the other one was black. I got into argument
with them. They asked to search my stuff. I had no choice.
I said, “You have no reason to search me.”
The Hispanic cop said, “Identification.” He could see I was
American. Then he said, “In Colombian, we can search you anytime.”
“No you can’t. You have a Constitution. [I know; I checked,
remember the raid at my last hostel?] You need a reason to search me.” (A
reason to search someone is called probable cause, and I was actually good at
probable cause analysis, and as a law student with the NLG, I won a number of
cases for my clients to get back their property – arguing the cops had no right
He said, “We can search you, because it’s night time. And at
night, it’s dangerous.”
I seriously thought to myself, This guy isn't that bright.
He continued searching my stuff and getting more aggressive. I was
getting annoyed. I remember that the hostel owner told me once that Colombian
cops aren’t that educated, and they only pretend to know what they’re talking
So after he searched me, I told him I wanted their names. They
both hesitated to give it to me. I told them I was going to write a complaint
against them for searching me. The black cop looked nervous.
The Hispanic cop said, “It’s night time. We can search you at
night. It’s dangerous.”
I said, “It’s not illegal to come to the beach at night. Can you
tell me which law makes it illegal?”
He said nothing. Then I said, “You just stopped me because you
wanted money from me.”
I can’t really tell you what emboldened me to talk back, but I
think I had enough of these Colombian cops, which have to be the greediest cops
I’ve met in South America so far. And I’ve been to Chile, Ecuador, the
Galapagos, and Peru. I was stopped at the airport, and a woman cop asked me how
much money I was carrying. She searched my stuff – convinced I had tons of cash
on me, which is typical of Chinese nationals, because of the heavily
regulations regarding cash flow. (But I’m American: Hello.) I’m convinced
that’s why they raided my last hostel; the cops wanted a bribe. And now, this
“Excuse me,” he said. He pushed a finger against my chest and
said, “You have to show respect.”
“Don’t touch me.”
He backed off, not expecting that.
He really wasn’t used to someone talking back to him, firmly. I
was very mindful to be respectful, and to bite my tongue often, because I
wanted to call him an “Idiot” a number of times. He also had a pistol, and it
was very visible. This was the kind of cop who engaged in police brutality
(also known as excessive force) because he had some kind of self-esteem issue.
Then I added, “And you were respectful to me?”
I got their names and walked away. The Hispanic cop turned back
and said, “Hey!!!”
“What?” I said.
“I could stop you, because it’s night time and it’s dangerous.”
Again I thought, This guy doesn't know anything. I
ignored him and kept walking to my hospedaje. Perhaps I shouldn’t
be so harsh – but what am I supposed to think about this bully – who only stopped
me in hopes of finding drugs, like marijuana, in further hopes that he could
extort a bribe out of me? How are you supposed to feel about people who abuse
their authority like this? I know the Scripture says to be respectful to these
authorities, even when they’re behaving abusively. I just find it hard. (But in
this case, I was respectful and showed self-restraint.)
At least this incident, reminded me why I keep going against those
in Baldwin Park; God save us that our country, state, and city doesn’t turn
into a police state like Colombia.
(And yes, I will be writing a letter of complaint. I often advise
people to do so, even though a remedy isn’t likely. It’s so at least there’s a
record for the future.)
At the hospedaje – I met my hosts. We were happy to see each
other. I told them my encounter with the cop, and they assured me it wasn’t
illegal to enter the island at night. They suspected he was only after money
I’m sure. I slept well that night.
I wake up in the mornings and swim in the turquoise Caribbean Sea.
After my morning swim and breakfast – I read. Anyways, since I’m by myself,
with not much to do, I read. That’s one reason I came to the island. I felt
like I needed to get more reading done.
When I tell my friends I’m reading, they’re always haunted by the
fact that they should do it too. I point this out only to show that it’s a
discipline, just as it is to go to the gym or go running daily. I intentionally
set aside some time and told myself I’m not leaving the island until I finish
this novel or decide the novel I’m reading isn’t worth finishing.
In the early afternoon, I read a book on nutrition. I find it
I have to read it slowly, because he has a lot of insights that
make me pause and think and digest. During these breaks, I text a number of my
friends. They write back. They must know that I have time on my hands.
In the later afternoon, I find out that my hosts have left me. I’m
left alone with one of their fathers. They went to Cartagena. The father is old
and doesn’t seem on top of it as the hosts, though he’s a nice man.
After, I go back to my room and read a Latin American novel
called Savage Detective. It follows Robert Belano’s passion to
start a literary movement in Mexico City. It’s rather vulgar and deeply Mexican
(even though the author is Chilean). I think it’s the Mexicanness that keeps me
reading; oddly enough, it makes me miss Baldwin Park, the people, and certainly
not our elected officials, like Lozano - who doesn’t even live in the city. I’m
glad it’s easy reading, because it’s over 600 pages.
There’s a story behind getting this book. I only got the book,
because I was with my friends on one of my worst birthdays in Santa Monica. One
of the friends was a bibliophile, and I said we should go to the used
bookstore. Of course, him and his wife purchased a number of books. I refused
to buy anymore books. I said that I had too many books to finish (which is the
truth). I also already selected the books I was bringing with me to Peru.
Somehow I got suckered into buying a book, and I asked the clerk
what book I should buy. He looked like the bookish type – except I wasn’t too
impressed that all he wanted to do was get published. (I told him working at a
bookstore probably wouldn’t land him that gig.) But he recommended Savage
Detective, and when I saw it was a Latin American story – I thought I could
make room in my luggage for this one. It’s not the kind of book that I couldn’t
put down (though for some it would be), but I enjoy it the more I read it. I keep
thinking of a friend, every time I read scenes; I’m sure he’ll enjoy it more
After reading, I run on the beach for about an hour. It’s at
sunset. I like the red sky in the background. I like running on the wet sand,
and I like when the waves crash against my ankles and sometimes my thighs.
While running back, I meet one of the former guests of the hippie
hostel I stayed at in Cartagena. He’s name is Herman, and he’s from Argentina.
He’s really tall and has vitiligo (a skin disease) on his ankle. He’s happy to
see me and gives me a warm hug and smiles brightly.
I liked Herman, because he was one of the first guests to
introduce himself to me at the hippie hostel. I could tell he wanted to learn
English from me. He doesn’t know I know his story – but I heard he was asked to
leave Cartagena, because he owed some people some money, and they were looking
for him. Also, he was having sex with several girls – who were partnered to
friends and guys he was working with. When they found out, they wanted to
pommel him. So, he ran away to the island. Again, he doesn’t know I know any of
I just told him I got into argument with the manager of the hippie
He asked why.
I told him: “Because she wouldn’t call me by my name and instead
kept calling me Chinito (Chinaman), like I was a dog. I told
her to stop, and when she didn’t, I called her a racist in front of everyone.
That made her stop.”
“Oh,” he said. “I know she has problems.”
“Tell me about it.”
In truth – I don’t think Erika was a racist, and I called her that
to make a point. I think she just had issues respecting men (yes, more than
women). She had problems in the past, apparently with men. (I found that out
Then I told him I got into an argument with someone else and
Herman said, “Him too?”
“Yeah. I told the guy not to go to Venezuela, because he’s a
father, and he was putting himself at risk. It’s a stupid idea, because he’s
bored. And he’s not thinking about his children. Of course, he didn’t want to
After some more small talk, I said good bye to Herman and ran back
to my hospedaje. Running back, I wondered if I was a disagreeable person
because of my training in law school, or whether being disagreeable enticed me
to go to law school. (Nevertheless, it’s my view that we’re approaching a time,
in which we’ll need more prophets to speak truth to power – not less.)
At night, I would watch the Fox television series – Gotham.
It was entertaining enough to watch, even with its terrible script. I finished
it, but I decided not to watch the next season.
I’m officially boycotting Gotham, because of its
negative stereotypical portrayal of minorities. For instance, Gotham portrays
blacks as dumb. Fox, a black technician for Wayne Enterprises, is corrected by
a 15 year old Wayne a number of times. Why can’t Wayne ever be wrong?
Then, there’s the Chinese Hugo Strange – which makes Asian people
look like calculating, emotionless, heartless, achievement oriented cruel
sadists. And he has a black assistant, Ms. Peabody – who comes off as dumb and
angry woman, ready to get back at the world. Even when she suggests that the
solution to defusing the bomb is water – the director suggests she’s dumb, only
cares that she’s thirsty – and it’s the white James Gordon who is the
brilliant, all-American hero, for correctly interpreting her request. Theo
Galavan’s sister, who is also African American, is portrayed to be a sexual
And in contrast, the Irish Harvey, the English Alfred, and the
all-American James Gordon are brilliant and awesome heroes.
And what about Latinos? The new Latino rookies end up getting
killed, because they’re not capable enough. But the show’s message is clear –
this is what happens to affirmative action hires. (Remember, the Latino cop
gets killed by the white villain, because he’s only interested in watching
television. He was dumb, not ready, and fell for Nygma’s trap. Maybe he would
have been ok, if he was training harder, as Bruce does in boxing?) And the
Latina girl – Firefly – loses her mind and becomes a psycho villain, which is
predictable because she was raised in gangsta family anyways.
Now it makes me wonder if portraying more minorities on television
is a good thing when they’re casting only perpetuates and reinforces negative
stereotypes. In any event, I think the creator of Gotham have
After some mindless entertainment, I sleep well.
I feel at peace. It’s a carefree life just to read, swim, run on
the beach, and eat and drink.
But one night, I have a strange nightmare that a demon was trying
to kill me. It was in the form of a giant tarantula that was larger than me. We
were face to face. I could see my reflection in all 8 of its shiny red eyes,
which looked like ruby orbs. In the dream, by some strange reason, the
tarantula couldn’t kill me, but it moved its fangs several times at me, while
staring at me.
What a strange nightmare.
My host comes back. They bring a boy back with them. He’s about 5
years old. They went to Cartagena to get the kid, who was living with his
grandparents at the time.
Last time I was here, the guy host told me he only had one kid.
Now I found out he has two. He said three at one point, but changed it to two.
That makes me wonder.
The guy tells me other stuff – mainly sexual in nature. I raise my
eyebrows and wish I didn’t hear it. I make a joke about the whole thing and
tell him I need to sleep.
He respects that.
I wake up in the middle of the night and diarrhea. I have food
poisoning and don’t feel so good. This is the second time I got food poisoning
at this place. It must have been the cheese again. I forgot not to eat it!
I don’t feel good at all. I have a slight fever and slight chills,
but it’s not devastating. I could move, but I feel weak. I go back to sleep but
wake up to diarrhea again.
I feel weak. It feels like I have to use a lot of strength just to
get up and use the restroom. I can walk at least. I think I’m sweating a lot,
because the flies are landing on me often. Or maybe they can just sense I’m not
in full health? Maybe they’re attracted to the bacterium that’s inside of me,
the same kind that’s probably on rotting food?
I’ve observed that food poisoning is common on the island with us
Westerners. My host said five people (four Europeans and one American) were at
the local hospital because of food poisoning, recently. At the hippie hostel,
another guy got sick from food poisoning too. There’s no electricity here,
which also means no refrigeration.
Bed-ridden, I just read my nutrition book. I finish it. It makes
me conclude that one of the underlying causes of all modern chronic disease,
with the exception of HIV, is hormonal imbalance or hormonal dysfunction.
I research what kind of bacteria I have with my limited internet
capabilities. I’m pretty sure I narrowed it down to the right one. It’s useful
to know, because it’s salt resistant. The cook often washes his hands with
saltwater but not soap. Also, certain ethnicities tend to be unaffected
carriers of such bacteria – which explains why the locals don’t get sick from
it. Typhoid Mary is a good example of unaffected carrier. Finally, it also
likes to grow on cheese. It all fits together. The research passed the time.
While reading my book on nutrition, I get news that Baldwin Park’s
Council Member Ricardo Pacheco is on the news for silencing people at the
Council Meeting. It upsets me, because he’s one of the biggest violators of our
Free Speech Rights. (We already sued him once about his retaliation and
bullying of citizens who protest him. He tried to destroy their credit by
sending their fines to the collection agency. But we stopped Pacheco and won.
And yet, he persists to shut people up.) It’s good the Tribune wrote up the
Looking at his new pictures, I noticed he’s gotten laser eye
surgery and some new suits. Must be all the new marijuana money he’s received.
He’s so corrupt and greedy. I seriously doubt he was elected legitimately. I
wonder why nobody looks into the real origins of our Baldwin Park officials.
They all seem to come from the Tex-Mex border.
I have to go to the toilet probably four more times that day. I
just feel weak.
My hosts feel bad for me. I ask for coconut water. I eat some potatoes
but not much. I drink a bottle of water. I drink a beer. (Beer probably isn’t
ideal, but I don’t want any more water.)
I sleep. I wake up in the middle of the night to go to the toilet.
I’m able to go back to sleep.
When I wake up, I figured out what I should have done to get over
the food poisoning faster. But, now, I’m already feeling better, and it’s not
worth the extra effort.
I have another strange dream. I’m trying to drive a huge truck I
can’t control. I can’t even park it. What a strange dream.
The next morning, my host brings me some coconut electrolytes.
That’s kind of him. The hosts really are taking care of me, but I’m almost
By midday, I’m fine. I look in the mirror though, and I’ve grown a
lot of facial hair fast. I don’t like how it looks. I have to shave soon.
I have a chat with my brother over text. He updates me about what
he wants to tell me about – and not more.
After, I call Mom. She tells me my cat Jeh Pan is fine. She says
he’s getting heavy and big. I want to see him, but it’ll have to wait. She says
she’s been filling up my aquarium with rainwater she’s collected from the Los
Mom also tells me about some horrific news story. Some children
were chained up and starved by two obese parents for 29 years. I told her I’d
look it up, later. She said, “How could this happen in America?” (Remember,
she’s an immigrant – who was led to believe this kind of stuff doesn’t happen
in great America.)
I eat my first full dinner in two days. It’s good. I hold it down.
No more problems. Knock on wood.
I have my first uninterrupted sleep in awhile. I go for a swim in
the turquoise sea again. After, I eat some fried eggs and drink some black
I ask for a cup of freshwater. I shave, using the window for my
reflection, because there’s no mirror. It works. I’m happy after shaving. I
look a lot better.