The toothless pipe smoking Colombian lunatic.

Trip Start Oct 06, 2004
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Colombia  ,
Tuesday, February 1, 2005

Shit, shit, shit, what am I doing here? What are all those soldiers up to, or are they paramilitaries or possibly guerillas? They don't look too friendly. Try to stay calm and make yourself invisible. Are they shouting at me? Where's the bloody bus, it's getting dark! "No problem Esteve, there's buses all the time" my ass. Why didn't I just stay in Cali, visiting the zoo or something instead. Stroll around in the peaceful butterfly garden or watching harmless Ostriches burying their heads in the sand. No, you had to go to San Cipriano didn't you. And now you're stuck on a guerilla infested highway waiting for a bus that may or may not come. Where did all the soldiers go, there's not a soul around. What's that sound? Man, it's getting really dark. Wonder if the shady characters down in the village are looking for me. Stupid Gringo, is that what they said? Hey, is that a car? It's stopping. What are those four very different characters doing together in a car? Shit, he got a gun! Is that smoke coming from the barrel? Here we go... Fuck, my legs are shaking. Sure take my money. Just let me go and I promise never to come back. Hey, it's not a gun, he's smoking a pipe...... If I want a ride to Cali, you bet! Saved by a colectivo taxi, lets get the fuck out of here!

What a day, and it's far from over yet! First you couldn't drag your ass out of bed. Leaving way too late for a day trip to San Cipriano. Then the minibus broke down up in the mountains. We finally got going again, but they forgot to drop me off in Córdoba. I only told them five times! Instead the bus driver dropped me off at the rough looking market in Buenaventura, at the same time explaining to a woman that she should put me on a bus back to Córdoba, for free. The woman forgot all about me and went for food instead. It was already late, so I remember thinking, "Shit, should I just take a bus straight back to Cali?" I ended up taking an expensive taxi to Córdoba instead. He probably ripped me off. Me, who never gets ripped off. Yeah right! Finally in Córdoba, I made it to the "train station" in order to take the 20 minutes ride between Córdoba and San Cipriano. The sole purpose of the whole day trip. There's no roads leading to the little village of San Cipriano, only an old rail track. But that doesn't mean there's any trains (well, in fact there's one once a week or so.) So instead the locals have set up their own transport system utilizing the rail track. The great "Brujita." It's a wooden pallet with a motorcycle mounted on it. Sounds safe, right? On this they speed you down the tracks through the lush jungle between the two villages. I guess you reach about 50kph or so, and remember there's only one rail track. So please don't forget those "Brujita's" coming the other way! It ends up being a great ride. Friendly kids are waving at me while shouting crazy Gringo. I'm one big grin during the entire trip. But this 20 minute ride is just one of today's journeys.

The colectivo taxi drivers name is Jorge, and he is a 61 year old toothless half blind pipe smoking Colombian lunatic. The other passengers are a smiling black priest from Buenaventura. A pretty girl, half his age, is sitting next to him. Is she stroking his leg? In the front passenger seat is a normal looking guy around my age, but why is he throwing 1000 Peso bills out the window? The last passenger is a Norwegian, light years outside his comfort zone. Off we go on the taxi ride from hell.

"Hey Jorge, why don't you turn on your headlights, it's two hours since the sun set? Yes, that's a classic move, overtake uphill before a curve inside a tunnel. No you cannot do a 180 degree curve in 80kph! It's against the laws of physics, just ask Einstein or Newton. Who's Einstein, well that's just brilliant. Phew, only two hours left to Cali."

We get to a fork in the road, but of course, we are not going left for Sun Valley. No, we are heading right, crossing the Mountain of Major Pain. There's dark church bell sounds coming from the Radio. Jorge is dribbling at the girl in the rearview mirror. The priest is no longer smiling. The guy has stopped throwing Peso's. The girl is getting slightly less pretty. And I'm just lost in a foreign country. "The Bells Are Ringing For You Now" by Jonas Fjeld gets stuck in my brain. On any other road I would have asked the driver to let me off a long time ago, but not here, left alone in total darkness. Easy prey for Puma's and two footed maniacs roaming the hills.

"Hey, is that a horse in the middle of the road? Get out of the way Mister Ed. Shit! Yes of course, if the car in front of you overtakes before a curve just follow him. He'll take most of the impact. Was that a black cat crossing the road? Please Jorge, when you end up in the wrong lane every time you do a right curve it means you are going too fast. Imagine what would happen in a left curve, yes it's a 200 meter straight drop. Yes, I know you have a sound recorder taped to the chassis of your car, and you are employed by the Hollywood action film department to make those screeching noises you hear in all car chase movies. Man the fog is getting thick, but you're a 61 year old toothless half blind pipe smoking Colombian lunatic so I guess it's not going to make much difference. Am I right or am I right! "

I promise you the old car wouldn't go faster falling off a cliff, homeward bound with sweet tasting meatballs for dinner. It goes on and on, but we are nearing Cali. I can see the lights from the city now. I never thought I would be so happy to see the once (maybe it still is) drug cartel capital of the world.

"Esteve, why did you go to San Cipriano? This place is not safe for strangers.", says Jorge, the 61 year old toothless half blind pipe smoking Colombian lunatic.

"Well I have news for you Jorge, you 61 year old toothless half blind pipe smoking Colombian lunatic. You are one of the world's unsolved mysteries. The world's Crop Circles, the STENDEC flight to Santiago, how they built the Pyramids at Giza is nothing compared to your story. How you survived to be 61 without perishing in a car accident is beyond us all. I'll call Discovery Channel right now and we'll both be rich. How about that?", says the Norwegian in his slightly wet pants.

Bloody hell, I need a rest. You'll hear from me in a week or so, I'm going to buy a week pass to the Cali Zoo.
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