Aside

Medellin and Cartagena Take II

29 Oct

You’re standing on a table on top of a rooftop and the music is vibrating through your feet and the Irish boy is looking at you and you know he wants to kiss you and later you let him because why not?

This is Colombia: hot, scandalous, interesting and a bit dangerous.  You don’t recognize yourself here.  You’re darker than you’ve been in a long time and people ask you if you’re from Argentina.

You sleep in dorm beds that remind you of sleepaway camp and pick up new friends each day.  You ride on searing hot buses through jungles and you know that men could come up in machetes and take everything away, but that happens so rarely.

It really all began in Cartagena; that colonial town that inspired Gabriel Garcia Marquez who you never really liked until you read him in Cartagena, though you get called, “middle class,” for saying so.

This is a continual conversation: class.  You’re told you’re from a class,”mass alta,” and because that’s something you have never really thought about you know it’s true.

On buses, in taxes, on foot with your gigantic backpack strapped on, you pass by houses made of grass and plastic with thatched or corrugated tin roofs.  The children come out to point, laugh and feed the too skinny dogs.

After Cartagena you go back to Medellin even though it wasn’t in, “the plan.”  The plan was shot to hell anyway, though when asked why you returned you didn’t really know.  You said it was desire but it was an answer not a reason.

But saying goodbye to Cartagena was hard.  You stayed an extra day and danced in the streets because Colombia won the futbol game.  In your hostel you watched people do cocaine and talk too much, so you left at three in the morning and slept on a couch.

The Americans convinced you to stay.  They arrived just in time to watch you roll all your clothes up and stuff them into your bag.  You constantly cracked jokes because it was just such a relief to speak American and you told them about the time you were 21 and made four dollars dancing in a strip club even though you weren’t on stage.

You told them about the Uruguayan who followed you around Playa Blanca and reminded you of some character that stepped out of a Llargas novel; the kind that still believes in romantic love.

He said, “Samantha I have nothing to offer you but your face is like a poem,” and you sat together on the concrete walls of Cartagena that once protected the old port city.

You sipped whiskey and then declared, “stay!”  You then told strangers your life story and danced in the middle of the circles that surrounded you.   But the next day you hopped on a plane, went backwards and drank more rum because you felt nervous.

In Medellin one day lead into another.  You went to the Botanic gardens and sipped sugar water because you were so dehydrated; you went to quaint restaurants, sipped wine and tried to be funny.  You cooked large meals and went to some unmarked club while two Colombian men tried to convince you to be their second girlfriends.

You slept in and became spoiled because the dorm beds started to drift away.  You began to lose the whole purpose of why you left.  You said you would leave the next day but then you didn’t and you were glad because you would’ve missed so much.

But you knew your belly was becoming soft and your feet tender.  You knew your muscles were shrinking in on themselves and that the feel of your weighted backpack was beginning to leave you.

You wondered if this was now your new forever, even though you knew that thought was fleeting, and you washed it down with your Paisa breakfast of eggs, rice, beans, sausage, ground beef and chicharron.

You knew you couldn’t stay one more day even though you wanted to, and when he used the word resentment you were glad that you had planned to go.

He was right anyway, to stay would mean not to move; not to strike your feet down unto the rocks and leave your sandals behind in the mud.

Because that’s what happened.  It stormed more the once.  When the plane took off back to Cartagena you were so frightened that you began to pray.  It dropped twice, then went sideways and righted itself.  You had a small scotch to calm your shaking hands.

When you landed the old man sitting next to you practically adopted you and made sure you got to your hostel, though you told him, “you’d call him,” when he asked to breakfast in the morning.

The Argentinean on the front steps helped you with your bag and told you that you had, “beautiful eyes and a good energy,” and you wondered how one man leads into the next even when you don’t want them.

It was Cartagena for only one night, and again it was hard to go but for this time there was no reason; it just has a piece of you forever.  You are leaving pieces of yourself all over, and when you learned in Yoga class that Colombia was supposedly the earth’s heart chakra you believed it because Colombia clearly has yours.

 

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