Thursday, March 8, 2012

Not one of my best days (Cartagena - Medellín)

After spending almost three months in super hot weather, I wanted to leave Cartagena as soon as possible. Besides, I wasn't impressed by the city. Well, the old town is nice but is full of tourist. I ran into some of the crew that boarded The Wayward Sun. It was expensive: a small bottle of water in the shop was about 1,5$! I stayed two nights in total: one night on board the sail boat, the last night the crew spent together, or at least that was the idea.  Greg, Rodrigo and Tim went out. Lana, Alex and me decided to stay. I didn't feel like going out and besides I couldn't afford it. 

After having our last breakfast together I left the boat and took a much needed shower in the Club Nautico. It was too late to start hitchhiking out. Besides, I wanted to give the city a chance or at least walk a bit around its streets. Conclusion: it's very chaotic. It was awfully hot. You couldn't walk one street without sweating like a pig. I didn't like one bit. I posted an emergency couch request in two of the forums.  The CS community there is, hmm "special" and not very helpful. This is the message I received after posting the thread:
"I hope so you are doing well, but our group is tiny, there are only 5 persons who can give couch, and they are seriusly selective.I recommend you to try one hostel in down town.
My best wishes on your trip."
If they are "seriously selective" people, why the fuck do they have an emergency couch forum!? If you're not going to help, don't waste my fucking time! 

We found a place to stay, but still I had to pay about 10$ for the bed. It hurt my wallet a lot. Literally because I need to fix it! I got up quite early the following day. Didn't have breakfast but I had the bread I bought the night before and some jam. I knew that Cartagena was big but is actually huge. Hitchwiki says to go the Bomba del Amparo which is a petrol station in the outskirts in the Amparo neighborhood. It was chaotic places. I started asking  people around. No one was going my direction. It was only local traffic or so they said. I found a ride to another place, a road that trucks use to leave the city. No luck again. It's was very sunny and very hot. Another road to even further out the city, to the nearest péage but instead getting off there, that I think it was better because cars/trucks/everything has to come to a complete stop, they dropped me off in the roundabout not far from there where the road coming from Barranquilla joins the one coming from Cartagena. A truck stopm, it was a dump lorry. Lana rides in the front, I ride in the back. But I couldn't feel the wind in my face or anything like that because what I was doing is forbidden, so instead of enjoying the scenery (if any) I was battling not to die with all the dust that was there. The petrol station was definitely not the best. Finally Juan Pablo took us. He was going to Bogotá. Tempted to go but he was not very keen in taking us all the way there so he dropped us somewhere. I bought some, according to the guy, not very good quality water.  After what it seemed an hour I walked towards the péage which according to the people I asked it was "only" a kilometre away. Police checkpoint. They start asking questions. I thought they were to ask me for my passport but they didn't. They gave a big bag full of 0,3L water bags. Not even warm water but HOT water. Lana found a ride so I was left alone in the middle of nowhere. Since I started to travel in Latin America I didn't feel quite comfortable at all. I don't know, it may sound stupid but that's the way I felt. This is my turf. I speak the language. A part from my backpack I look the same, I think? Anyways, I needed to be alone. To test myself. I had been travelling with someone else since I left Estonia. Only a few hitches alone but most of the time, alone. What comes next helped me get back to reality. After the police told me that the péage was 1 kilometre away (I already had walked that distance) I started to walk again with even more weight this time. The only wind I felt while walking was when cars or trucks drove beside me. Thumbing while walking worked before in Poland. Not this time though. It was super-fucking-mega-hot. I was stopping every 10 minutes or every time there was shade, whichever came first. Then I saw my arms... I had blisters! fucking hell!!! the first I though was not to ever receive food from minibus helpers and to buy "high" quality water. I though it was an allergic reaction as I didn't have them in the morning. The sun was so hot that I was starting to peel and my arms were full of bubbles. I asked every single person I came across and every single one of them told me different distances to that my destination: between 1 and 3 kilometres. I saw a what it seemed to be an abandoned airport that I thought it would be a good place to spend the night, but it was still early, around 16:00. I was not going to give up that easily, although I was exhausted. Finally I saw a sign: "peaje a 1 kilómetro". Should I give and just stay here and see what happens next or should I keep going, after all I walked a lot and it's only 1 kilometre left. Got up, put on my backpack and started walking again. Finally I reached the fucking péage, after walking for 3 hours. I asked if I could use the toilet to wash myself. The water coming from the sink was HOT! nooooooooooooooooooo. My shirt was like if I had jumped into a pool wearing it. I asked if I could trade some of my hot water bags for cold ones. The people selling them agreed and I drank three in 5 seconds. I changed my shirt and rest a bit. In my desperation I saw a truck with something written on the door (Colombian truck has the license plate number written on the door) and asked the drive "are you going to... eer, mmm, Medellín?" then I saw Barranquilla written on the door, but he was not going to Medellín anyway. I went back to pick up my things and started asking people. A car and a truck just looked at me and said no. Then Jorge's truck drove in. He saved me. He said he was going to Medellín and agreed to take me. He was coming from Barranquilla after driving back and forth for a week. He was going back to his wife directly to make love to her. He kept saying that evey 30 minutes. Horny little bastard, but I didn't care. I was going to Medellín! We stopped a few times, to eat and apparently trucks needs a stamp every hundred kilometres or so. We climbed a very steep hill and after that he stopped. He kicked me out because he needed to sleep and I slept in the tables of the truck stop. I was freezing (not like in Romania last year) but it was cold enough for me. We got there around 3 and left three hours later. I was in a petrol station 12 km away from town. That was Jorge parked his truck. I tried to hitch from there but there were hardly cars coming in. I asked a guy driving a kombi but he looked at me and actually kind of rude he said no. I walked to where my things were and when he saw me that I was a traveler he immediately changed his attitude and drove me to the metro station.

So far Medellín is awesome. Chaotic but still very nice. The people is very friendly. I like it here. The area is nice. I'm in Santa Elena, a small town 15 kilometres from Medellín. The climate is cooler than Medellín. The vibe here is great.


Now I'm waiting for Paula to come so we can start rocking South America.

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