Friday, June 29, 2012

Answers on a postcard

I'm sat on a very cold eighteen hour bus on my way to Bogota. We've been sat stationery for two hours, there are random films playing (an over abundance of one of the Wahlbergs is evident) in very loud Spanish and I'm talking to a five year old girl. I'm heading to a free rock concert (there was a two hour delay at this point so the young girl could dominate my ipad and play mahjong. Sticky fingers! I manfully liberated it. Eventually.) for a few days in all betrayal of my travelling principles and heading completely off track just to do it. I could've flown for fifty pounds more and been there by now - the bus is moving! Hurrah! 8pm....dear god. I started at two. Anyway...

As I may have mentioned I'm in Colombia. Allow me to be verbose on the ways of Colombia. The women are stunning (I should leave ASAP as at some point I'm going to make a mistake and/or be drunk enough to talk to one of the ones who are possibly....underage - save me, someone! I've not heard stories of Colombian prisons but I can imagine. Suffice to say they start looking stunning at 'a' tender age and I don't know what that age is. It's scary). The food is pretty shit; most of it is fried and being vegetarian is difficult - everyday is pretty much rice, beans, eggs and's like they don't have fruit and vegetables fucking everywhere. If I shop and cook for myself I can get nutritionalised to the max but you just can't buy it in a bloody restaurant. Unless you want juice cuz then you're on to a winner. I had Zapote juice the other day. Not had Zapote since early days at InanItah. It was bloody lovely. The weather is a touch too hot and the Sun burns its way through my skull like a fucking lance every day but I'm having much fun. I just spent a few days at the far northern point of South America and it was stunning. It's basically desert and very few people live there. Awesomeness.

To get to the actual northernmost point according to the Lonely Planet is 'almost impossible to get to independently'. Yes, it is but not for the reasons they give. Settle down, kids. It's story time.

Before I got to where we got I wanted to go to Puntz Gallinas directly but met some other travellers who advised us to go to Cabo de la Vela via Cuatrovias (effectively a crossroads, a fact I should've picked up on from the name...). So we get to Cabo and while it's nice it's not quite the lonely place I wanted to get to. I wanted and expected a lonely house on a peninsula, me, a family and their house on a beach on the edge of the desert. It was nice but the town was still all hospedajes and restaurants. So we walked to the edge of town and convinced a house owner to let us sleep in his house in hammocks. It was awesome. Look through any hole in the bamboo and all you could see was orange sand or the mountains. Beautifulness. Everybody, us and the family, slept in the same bamboo room, forty metres from the beach. Simple, rustic, and lovely.

Day 1

Not a lot happened. It wasn't that kind off place. But I did find a that would take me to PG for 150,000 pesos or about £50. Now in the grand scheme of things that's not a lot of money; I've paid more for far less. You get a car for an hour, a boat for two and a half, there and back. You can stay as long as you want. Accommodation and food is extra but there are sixty metre high sand dunes to look at. And, randomly, flamingos. I said I'd think about it. See, when you're used to paying £4 for accommodation £50 goes a long way. Yo pienso....

We go to sleep...

[915 and the bus is finally moving. That £50 for the flight might have been worth it.]

Day 2

....Until some point in the morning while it's still dark and the gallo (rooster) kicks off. For I don't know how long. Sometimes it's outside, sometimes it's inside and sometimes it's right next to my bastard hammock. Still, rustic, right?

The house owner offers to take us to PG for 50,000 pesos AKA £17. Bargain. We'd go there and back in one day on his motorbike, three hours each way. I was t thrilled about the prospect of bum numbing fun and I was conflicted in that having spending all that time to get there I wanted to stay there at least one night. That's alright, he says in Spanish, you stay in PG, I'll charge you double and come fetch you whenever you want. Awesome. That's still cheaper than the official tour. Let's do it.

We're due to leave at four AM....

Day 3

7am and Pedro wakes us up. 'Wakes us up' is a bit of a stretch to be honest as we've been awake for hours because of the fucking chicken so we've been expecting him.

Pedro: we can't go. The road is too muddy.

Us: but it's a desert. How did it get muddy?

P: umm....from the last time it rained.

U: and when was that?

P: umm....about twenty days ago

U: how the chuff is it going to dry more in one day than its had twenty days to do already? Have you put your head outside lately? It's just a tad scorchio.

P: we go tomorrow. It'll be fine. Oh, [points] there's my bike. [boy rides past. Remember this. It's Important].

U: tomorrow for definite? It'll happen?.

P: guaranteed.

Later he tells us his bike is being used to herd cows. So we're already suspecting he's telling us bollocks. Still, we're staying anyway....

Day 4

There's a dog screaming somewhere nearby. For hours. The kids wake up and decide its good fun to play with the gringos who want to sleep. Torches get waved and thrown around, books get fought over and ripped and I get hit with a stick. The chicken won't shut the fuck up. I was a bit grumpy. It's like the increasing tension from a horror film.

7am comes around and theres no sign of Pedro.

Us to his brother who also sleeps where we do: Donde es Pedro? Ello....hablas....cuatro hora....

Brother: [blank]

There follows an epically entertaining conversation between my friend and his brother.

I go and sit on the beach and eat breakfast. At this point apparently the brother stopped a random motorbikes and asked him really sheepishly to take us. His look basically said "are you fucking insane? It's too late"

The young boy on the bike comes past and upon asking where Pedro is and why the boy has his bike the boy says "I don't know Pedro. This is my bike". We get fed up of this and decide to leave. The brother gets his kids to come and ask us for some money. We have a theory that he isn't allowed any money by his scary looking mother. He and Pedro effectively just sit in hammocks all day while the women fetch and carry for them. He was always asking us for money and to get him coffee and on this day his mum had gone to market leaving him helpless. We weren't convinced he actually knew how to make it himself. Yes, this is a conversation we actually had on how pathetic he was.

So we left. The thing is to now get to PG we'd have to spend another day there waiting for the tour to leave the next day. We didn't want to do that so we decided to leave Cabo. The thing is the bus to leave leaves at four AM. So, fuck it, we decided to hitchhike out of this very smal town. We walked to the very edge of town and waited three bastard hours. No luck. My friend decided to stay. Not me. I'm too stubborn. I carried on trying while she went off to find accommodation. A couple of hours later she wanders back to announce she's having lunch. I follow, sheepishly. I'm refusing to check in somewhere until at least six, as I reckon I can still make it to where I need to get to if I leave by that point. (This was a complete fallacy on my part but fortunately isn't really relevant to this story). Every car that comes past I jump up and point my thumb.

Eventually I get a lift with a lovely couple from Medellin. Incidentally, the Medllin accent makes that of the coast sound like incomprehensible Scottish. We drove back through the desert, getting a bit lost on the way, and finding some salt flats. We went to a salt mine, I practised my Spanish and we had a great time. But that's not the purpose of this story. The purpose of this story is to ask a question: what was the point of Pedro lying to us about being able to give us a lift? At least, we feel like he lied. Changing stories, not showing up....What was his motivation? The only thing we can think of is that it meant we'd stay longer but we'd have done that anyway. Answers on a postcard.

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