Friday, July 4, 2014

Notes on Colombia

Here your travelers paranoia is disproven, it does not apply. A stranger on a bus takes your luggage and yourself suddenly and too soon you are in a taxi heading to a place you don't know. You are practising ways to defend yourself when he turns to attack you which he surely will because nobody is to be trusted - least of all a random passenger from a bus in some small city in Colombia. Cursing yourself silently for being so stupid and unoriginal, sure to end up another irresponsible single female traveler headline in a foreign country. You reply to him in curt, one word answers.

You are wrong. He pays for the taxi and sees you to the bus stop, warning you about the dangers of traveling alone and to always be careful. The bus to the little fish village arrives, as he said, and he sees you on helping you with your luggage. You apologise briefly, rightly embarrassed at the way you were hypothetically karate chopping his neck before running out of the taxi in the worst-case-scenario nightmare playing in your head. 
***

Cartagena is thick, sticky heat that clings to you. You sweat through your thin cotton shirts and tiny shorts while the locals stride by unperturbed in jeans and long sleeve shirts. There are also some of the most hideously unnatural plastic surgery results you've ever seen; Colombia - home to the world's most beautiful women. Their legs are thin yet somehow morph into giant curves that make you want to break out into all the songs you know that have to do with ass. But you don't, your mouth drops and your head turns and you realise now what it's like to be a guy. You keep on. 

The colonial centre is stunning and immediately you are taken aback, you have discovered time travel, or perhaps just travel - the best kind. Vines creep up pale pink walls, you peer into wooden barred windows and walk under balconies fit for serenading. It is undoubtedly romantic and you smile at the thought of coming back here with him and doing it all again. Him who you miss and whose absence reaffirms both that you can, in fact, be alone again and be more than okay and that now he has formed a part of what home means to you, a home that you carry with you always, wearing it around your neck and close to your heart.
***

You travel with a french friend who is every bit as awesome as her name suggests. Most of the time you spend laughing at everything that nobody else would find funny. She asks you questions without easy answers and listens intently to your inchoate replies. There's the absence of self-consciousness in your conversations, topics that might make one frown or cringe but that you dive into without hesitation. The comfort of your chatter and later the silences pave over the discomforts of traveling, sweaty and tired through buses and taxis. You sleep in hammocks by a beach, in a tent in a national park, in a dorm with young good looking french guys and at the hospitality of lovely colombian connections who prove over and over that yes, colombian people may just be the nicest people in the world.
***

Alone you write a lot and quickly the pages fill with your slanted scrawl. You draw occasionally but write mostly and one of the things that stands out are the only true words of a poorly attempted poem I want to live the way I float in the sea

I want to live the way I float in the sea.

I want to live the way I float in the sea.

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