Today I would like to take a moment to copy a plethora of better, more popular blogs than mine by sharing a few search terms before I continue my improbable but true travel story. Why? Because search terms are fucking fascinating that’s why. They are like a small haiku into someone’s head. Most of mine are about how much to tip your tattoo artist – a topic that is fraught with drama (read some of the latest comments and you’ll see what I mean) but I do get my share of random meth related ones too. Here are a few that caught my eye from this week. note; all spelling and punctuation has been unchanged to protect the innocent? Maybe. (For fun I linked the search term to the post I think google had in mind)
whats to pay a tattoo artese’s tip – included for the fanciful spelling and arbitrary use of punctuation
women like tattoos myth – not a myth dude
will it hurt your tattoo if you do meth while its healing – the tattoo is the LEAST of your worries – focus on the meth problem instead
I guess I have a bad reputation – are you asking me? You are going to have to give me more to go on, sorry.
I know that your promise is bullshit – sounds to me like google is bullshit. Why the hell did it send you to my blog? And please – chillax.
what are the roles of individuals to have on a desert island – well I guess if you have wifi and your working out a chore/work schedule then shit could be worse
And now back to the story…
So we landed in Bogota just as the sun was setting behind the mountains and found ourselves once again in the middle of a large city.
Growing up in the 80’s meant that for me the very word Columbia and especially Bogota summoned up endless news reports and movies and Lifetime TV specials about the danger of cocaine and by default the danger of Colombia. This was the era before the movie “Blow” – where Johnny Depp’s stroll through the airport in that white suit with “Black Betty” playing in the background made coke, drug lords and Colombia look sexy (until they beat the shit out of him and he went to jail forever.) I digress.
So we landed and headed into the airport and onto the next leg of our journey. For reasons that are lost to me but most likely had to do with money we did not fly from Leticia to Ecuador. Oh no. First we flew to the middle of the country – then we flew back to the border to Pasto with our destination now being Quito.
I barely remember making these plans. I had spent weeks before my trip dog earing pages in my Lonely Planet Guide (remember kids – it’s 1994 so no internet. At this point Al Gore had only invented bottled water or something) but somewhere around this point in the trip I abandoned my “guidebook” on a park bench and let myself be blown by the whims of fate and extra pushy travel companions. No more planning.
The airport was a culture shock. Large, modern, crowded with travelers, professionals and…military.
Raised in the USA well before 9/11 the sight of heavily armed soldiers crawling all over the airport was a surprise. There were even heavily armed lady soldiers with army skirts, full makeup and nicely styled hair wielding guns large enough to make Sylvester Stallone stumble under their weight (plus he’s like 4’6″).
We purchased our tickets and settled in for a long wait. Our flight wasn’t until 6am and we were too intimidated (and cheap) to try to find nearby lodging for only 9 or 10 hours.
Paul and I shouldered our packs and made our way over to our terminal after a brief and unemotional farewell with Allison who was heading elsewhere. On our own again our relationship had completely shifted to one of friendship although by this point we found each other rather annoying. We settled down in big plastic orange bucket chairs to wait for the dawn. Paul promptly fell completely fucking dead asleep which allowed me to stare at him malevolently for hours and reflect on what an asshole he was. Mostly for being able to sleep soundly in a plastic bucket chair.
I nodded a bit. I paced. I wandered. The crowds thinned and the airport hushed itself with the passing hours. Stores and kiosks closed for the night. Paul slumbered on, that bastard. I remember it being around 1 am and I was getting a little delirious. I grabbed my pack and crossed to the next terminal just to see what was there. A tiny café kiosk was actually open all night and I had a café leche that stays with me still – too hot, too milky and the strong taste of the paper cup overwhelming what little “café” it contained. It was heaven. I sipped at it for a long time trying to make this little diversion last. Finally I stumbled back to my terminal and Paul who shifted suddenly when I sat down, asked me the time – 1:45am – and promptly went back to sleep, that bastard.
Eventually I must have given myself over to sleep because I felt myself being nudged awake – poked really. I opened my eyes and saw the finger poking me was actually the barrel of a machine gun. I sat up. Two soldiers who looked barely old enough to shave stood over us and the one with the gun on me casually asked what I was doing there. I glanced at Paul – dead to the world. “Um waiting for my plane”. He asked to see my tickets and my passport all while keeping his gun trained on my chest like I was some sort of ninja and not just an exhausted traveler. Of course based on Paul’s body posture it was quite possible he was dead and I was the only suspect but they didn’t seem interested in him – only me.
I extracted my ticket and passport from my flimsy little stomach purse where I kept all my documents and money, aware that I was alone with these guys and they had the drop on me. The soldier set the butt of his gun down on the floor and took my papers away from me carefully scanning them. The other soldier never moved. He just stood there cradling his gun like a baby and staring at me. Finally after what seemed like a very long time the soldier held my papers up just over my head and asked me how many dollars I had. He said this in halting English – perhaps to make his point. (We had managed with my poor Spanish til now). “Ahhh. three hundred?” I said trying to strike the right balance. He handed me my papers, nodded and walked off, the other soldier trailing behind. I think they were just fucking with me. Two bored kids pulling a crappy night shift and just trying to pass the time. Paul never flinched.
We finally boarded just as the sun was coming back up over the mountains. I barely had time to buckle my seatbelt before I passed out cold in a near dead faint – not budging until Paul shook my shoulder and told me we were landing. Hello Ecuador.