After six nights of watching the paint stay dry in the same hotel room with Alex, I finally decided to peer out into the world and spread my wings on Tuesday. The preceding week wasn’t all bad, but it got old quick. With Alex in a wheelchair and absolutely no ramps leading into any buildings, I couldn’t ditch out on him right away. We got in a good habit of eating at the same place downstairs two meals a day; the first one when we’d wake up at noon and the second around 6:30pm. There was seldom English on TV so I ended up downloading a lot of movies and HBO seasons. Eastbound and Down Season 2 set in Mexico had me keeled over in laughter for about three hours. Limitless and Source Code were also fun to watch.
One day I went to the mall and bought a new pair of headphones. First I told my driver to take me to an electronics store; he took me to the slums and found me a brand new pair for $1.50. I bought them to avoid the awkwardness of explaining that they were absolute crap; you have to ask for the right thing here because these people live on a whole new level of being cheap. I eventually hopped in another cab for the mall and found a real pair for $17 (about the cost of the cab fare that took me to the slums). At the mall I got some McDonald’s and had a tender moment with a Colombian lady and her kid who desperately wanted to speak English to me. I will say my Spanish jumped up a notch over the last week. It’s a combination of learning the Colombian accent and a whole lot of words. But buying headphones was the entirety of what I did those six days, so it was time for something new.
Tuesday was the first day it seemed reasonable for me to leave. He had his crutches (which we had to order for his 6’5” frame), extra gauze and dressings, and all the internet he wanted. Ideally he would have had his motorcycle too, but apparently that process will require a little more time and money than we thought. Regardless, the only thing he really needed was more time lying on his ass; there was not much more I could do.
With Al’s blessing, I took off early afternoon for Santa Marta, a nearby city that is recommended by the tourist circuit for its ‘atmosphere’ and beaches. It was a nice ninety minute ride along the coast. It just felt good to have the wind in my face and the intensity of the motorcycle again. I pulled into town and spent two hours trying to find a hostel (I had done absolutely no research). Eventually I gave up and just pulled into a hotel. I was sick of sweating in my riding gear and wanted off the bike. I found a place for 40,000 pesos a night and called it good. After a shower and a short break in the A/C, I decided to go find the city’s most popular hostel and book Wednesday night there. I had gotten pretty close; the hostel is one block from my hotel.
I went in, booked a room, and ordered a beer. I planned to just drink one beer and then save my energy for when I moved in on Wednesday. Instead I wound up wandering home at 2:00am telling coke dealers to get lost (they’re harmless). The moment I sat down at the bar I started talking to an English guy named Sam. He was half Colombian and currently volunteering at a Nature Reserve in the mountains. This was the third time in two months that he’d come out of the woods and he was obviously thirsty. We had a couple drinks and then went across the street for dinner. It was happy hour at dinner. Then we went back to the hostel bar for more happy hour. Then I met Liz and Michael. Liz is from Vancouver, Canada and Michael grew up north of Melbourne, Australia. They’d been dating and living in Vancouver for the last few years so the PNW connection was strong. Aussies and English love to hate each other and nothing goes better with cheeky national pride than more alcohol. Eventually the boys started ordering rounds; by the time it was my turn I was ready for bed. I did my duty though and ordered them up. Then I sucked mine down in seconds flat and hit the street leaving Michael slumped over in his chair and Sam lost in conversation with some Irish girls.
It wasn’t all just staring at the bottom of a glass, though. I learned a lot about the city and the surrounding region last night. There’s a surf village nearby, a hippie village, and a national park. All three sound pretty fun. I’m spending tonight at the hostel and then tomorrow I might get mobile again and do some exploring. I’ve got at least until Saturday and possibly longer before Al gets his bike back and starts considering moving south. I plan to make the most of it; it’s not every day that you wake up in Colombia with a motorcycle at your disposal.