Cocaine, Machine Guns and Dirty Trousers

Trip Start Jan 31, 1996
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Colombia  ,
Friday, February 19, 2010

In 1983, Colombian drug lord, Pablo Escobar was ranked 7th on Forbes magazine's richest men in the world list. It was estimated that his personal worth was over US20 billion. In the early '90s a U.S. funded 1,500 man special unit spent 499 days tracking Escobar down. In 1993 he was found and shot dead while trying to escape on a Medellin rooftop. Today, things have supposedly changed much for the better in Colombia under the government of right-winger, Alvaro Uribe. It's estimated though that Colombia is still responsible for 90% of the cocaine that reaches the streets of the United States.

I might be the only guy wearing army pants in Bogota that doesn't have a machine-gun strapped to his shoulder. And when I say guy, I'm using the word loosely. A boy in fatigues, who looked no more than 12 caught me staring, first at his short body, then at the gun that was about the length of his tiny torso. When he glared back, I grabbed at my army trousers in hope of showing him that we were on the same team. He didn't seem to understand so I quickly walked away.   

Yesterday, Ellen and I took a cab to the bus station. We were trying to catch the 9:00 A.M. northbounder towards the Caribbean coast. Halfway to the station, on a busy highway the cab broke down. The friendly driver opened the hood and showed us a broken wire. Without breaking a frown from his constant smile, he stripped one of his boot laces free and tied it to something under the hood. Then he strung the lace up through the back of the hood and in through his window. Holding the lace in his left hand like a cowboy holding a horse's reins, he got the gasoline flowing. But it was like we were riding a bronco. He couldn't control the flow; all he could do was ensure that there was one. And it was on full throttle. The engine roared as he went from one gear to the next. Car horns honked as he shifted gears then bounced, likely from second to fourth gear. Ellen tried to find an attachment for the seat belt strap, but there wasn't one.

The driver had also left something on the backseat that he shouldn't have. When we arrived at the bus station, the arse of my pants was wet. When the wet dried it turned into a dark, caca looking stain.  Ellen thinks the ride caused me to have a little accident. Let her think what she likes. In my army pants I'm a soldier, and a good soldier must soldier on, no matter how ridiculous he looks.
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michelle on

you're in colombia! lucky you! I loved Bogata. Are you off to Taganga? make sure you indulge in the delicious treats patrick dishes out at Casa de Felipe. Yu can get your cat fix there too!
And save a good amount of time for Tayrona. Lovely! Have some chocolate bread at the "bakery" for me.
Luck, lucky you!!! x

Don Conant on

Another great adventure, we enjoy your articles. Cab rides & all.

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