“If This Trip Doesn’t Kill Us, This Tienda Crawl Will”

Part I

I really did go to Colombia for the second time, and I really did feel safe. Despite what all the white people you know will try to tell you, it’s quite safe. It was 5:30 AM, flight number blah blah, gate whatever. As opposed to lying down and simply pretending to sleep for 6 or so hours, My Accountant and I chose to stay up talking shit and drinking aguardiente sours all night, then take a quick power nap before flying. We would do that in lieu of sleeping. Really, it just made more sense that way. The flight was with Air Canada Rouge. Rouge, when translated into English, apparently means passable pancakes, zero free booze, and some asshole toddler behind you crying and kicking your seat every 30 seconds. Needless to say, said plan, did not go as planned. I moved to the middle row, and slept horribly most of the way. So it goes.

I lived to write this, so we obviously didn’t die on the plane/metal tube with a liquor license. Or any of the other flights that would ensure on this journey. Bogota seems to be the same as when we last left her. Traffic, Poverty, and Postebon ads. Tamales and Tiendas. Cyclovela (I’m definitely not saying that correctly) on Sunday’s. Cute little cars that think they’re cars, but they’re not actually cars. Those silly cars, I sure did miss them. I hate this place, but I love these chords. The city is still humid as shit, and I’m wearing a worn out American Apparel (RIP) hoodie, and a vinyl jacket that may look cool, but offers no ventilation whatsoever. I’m also hungover, which is basically my natural state, as of late. We missed our Translator coming out of arrivals, and had to wait between the OMA, and the Juan Valdez for him to show up with our Mr. & Mr. Salt sign. Thus, our arrival was pretty anti-climactic.

So we’re here. But first, cervezas. Several cervezas at that. Then we get escorted out of the city in The Mother Fucking Twingo. Still a car with bags of personality and the innovative technology to match. But now it’s gained this certain ‘We could break down at any moment feeling’ that I love so much in an automobile.

That particular day, we were escorted to a great monument to Jesus in the mountains, but a different and more impressive one than last time. I was on a mountain. We arrived, parked, arepa’d, cerveza’d, then stood at the end of the longest line, to get into a church buried deep in the mountains. It was amazing, and a real testament to someone’s faith. But, the irony of digging half way to hell just to build a monument to worship that Jesus character isn’t lost on me.

So it goes.

We ate a fuck of a lot more tacos this time. I am not complaining. The Mexican food is a better this time around. I am not complaining. That, or My Translator is just a better tour guide this time around. Again, I am not complaining. Tacos, Tecate, nachos, Tecate and more Tecate. 8 Tecate for $4 at the !Exito. Short girls that bought a can of Tecate from the food truck behind the actual bar. Tell all your friends! For the most part, everything is still a nightclub disguised as something else. Except for the fake speakeasy’s. But I’ll get to that in the next paragraph. At one of those nightclubs (disguised as a taco restaurant, obviously) I did that awkward Spanish cheek kiss thing with my stepsister, and she got me sick. I’ll blame it on the moisture and the altitude of Bogota, but My Doctor will insist otherwise. Oh yeah, we have a Doctor now! She’s a great addition to the squad, seeing as how we’re all (OK, 2/3’s of us at least) barreling towards the vastness of death at breakneck speeds with the lifestyles we lead.

Whilst wasted, we went to at least 3 different bars hidden behind bookshelves, or that we had to be lead through a kitchen by a guy in a suit in order to get a Manhattan. The Manhattan’s here are made with Jack Daniels. I’m not complaining, I guess. But, not a single person here knows what the word speakeasy means. That’s my real complaint. I told you I’d talk about this. I love this place, but I’m not so crazy about these chords. Whilst sober, El Jefe, our 2nd roommate/tour guide/My Translator’s Father/babysitter took us for fruit and empanadas. It was a niiiiiiice. He also flagged down the taxi cabs/roller coasters we took to get downtown. El Jefe took us to The Botero museum, and we saw some fantastic paintings starring chubby ladies. I bought a reasonably priced fridge magnet, and ate some pizzas. If Botero is your favourite artist, then fucking get fat.

But this was all just the warm up.

A 9AM flight to Cartagena. Flight number blah blah, gate whatever. Only worth mentioning, because it was my first ever flight sober and drug free. There was a pressure drop that destroyed my left ear for about a week and a half. So it goes.

CTG doesn’t have actual gates, so we de-boarded the plane on the tarmac. I felt like one of The Beatles. But one of The Shitty Beatles. On the cab ride from CTG to the Sonesta hotel (A series of gorgeous but poorly built luxury condominiums) We saw what a proper 3rd world country looks like. If you think you’re poor, you would be greatly mistaken.

Colombia dreaming. Easy money in a sunshine state. We checked Clamato in our luggage, because It’s impossible to get a passable Caesar/Bloody Mary in this country. We paid for a maid. Again, because we are still middle class drug lords. I saw a large lizard crawl across my wall, and go inside the air conditioner. I told everyone, but I had a sneaking suspicion that no one believed me.

We went to Cartagena proper on a daily/nightly basis. In an alley, I was asked if I wanted yayo. In front of a bunch of souvenir stands, I was asked if I was ‘Tony Montana’ I was stared at by a dude who was constantly brushing his nose as if he had some sort of post nasal drip from the back of a tienda I was drinking at. In front of a Hoobastank concert, disguised as a simple Irish pub with a Hoobastank cover band playing, I was asked if I wanted coke (thank you for finally being so direct, fine sir) There was a bunch of other times, but those are ones that are noteworthy. We went to a KGB themed bar, talked about fiscally responsible socialism, and drank there until a table full of white guys ordered some hookers. Once again, the irony was not lost on me. It never is.

My translator haggled for some cigars. Every time I smoke cigars, I’m reminded why I don’t smoke cigars. That irony wasn’t lost on me either.

When that party was over, we flew back to Bogota on an evening flight. The sads were setting in. That flight was much smoother, though my ears were still fucked. But it’s cool, I don’t really need to hear anything anyway. My Accountant, Translator and I, spent our last few days in Bogota drinking. As if there was any other option, you know? The BBC now has BBC Bodegas. I’m pretty sure it’s the only establishment (Tienda’s aside) that isn’t a nightclub disguised as something else. Naturally I was fucking into it, and so was My Accountant. We made it our local, twice in one night if I recall, which I really don’t. Remember earlier, when I mentioned short girls that bought cans of Tecate from the food truck behind the actual bar. Well the actual bar was a BBC Bodega, and My Accountant and that girl really wanted to grab some late night empanadas together.

After breaking through the language barrier, vetting that she wasn’t a criminal, smoking a fuck ton of cigarillos, and blatantly talking about all the sauces they were going to get on the their empanadas at the giant picnic table in the BBC bodega, they finally decided to grab some empanadas. There’s a moderately hilarious story about them loudly eating empanadas together in My Translators bedroom. Part of that story involves My Translator and I trying to distract El Jefe while they were loudly eating those empanadas. Another part involves My Account quickly grabbing a napkin out of my backpack to avoid getting fancy sauce everywhere. But that’s just semantics.

Long story short, I got drunk. We got drunk. But I finally had a fucking vacation. And then I came home and quit my job.

What a time to be barely alive.

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