Prologue::Table of Contents::Chapter 2

Chapter 1
San Andres Island
Cartagena

Sat. Sept 16.

In San Andrés [1] .

Well - after a 2 hour wait in the Miami airport the plane finally got off the ground. Something about replacing a part that wouldn’t fit caused the delay. We arrived in good condition, nothing lost or broken. After a perfunctory customs check (wave of the hand) and a $2 - 5 minute taxi ride to the Residencias Restrepo we are now in Colombia.

The Residencia is a funky place - the same place Jan & I stayed at in ’74. It costs about $1.75 each to sleep and $1.00 each for each meal. This is the cheapest place on the island. It has chickens running about and a large gringo population. Have met a guy [2] from Australia, some chicks from the U.S. and some others from Italy. One lady [3] was telling about all the ripoffs on the mainland but we expected that.

This afternoon we took a walk down the road following up a lead trying to find some pot but all we found was a native chick who greeted us with “Hello, baby”; and rain. It’s rained 3 or 4 times already today most probably due to Hurricane Greta(?) somewhere in the area.

So far I’ve suffered no noticeable culture shock and only a bit of well earned laziness. In the days to come - we’ll concentrate on getting sunburned and finding a boat to Cartagena. The natives do not seem overly friendly here, probably due to all the tourists. Hopefully we’ll spend no more than a few days here (depending on boats).

And then there were the 3 ladies next door smoking dope who invited us in. N. seemed to infer from their talk that they were hookers. I had no reason to doubt it. But we got high anyway. We sat around listening to their tape player (turned up loud enough to drown out any comprehensible Spanish) trying to think of an excuse to leave.

The rest of the afternoon was spent reading and sleeping.

I wish I had a tape recorder to catch the sounds of the island - airplanes revving their jets, dogs barking, chickens cackling, the radio next door, and a multitude of languages.

Sun. Sept 17:

A day of basic relaxation. Took a walk down by the docks to check out boats . None leaving soon but we’ll check again tomorrow. Another possibility is to cash in our return airline tickets for flights to Cart. with the remainder being an MCO.

The afternoon was spent frisbeeing & tanning. After dinner we got together with a French couple & a British couple, drank some beers, smoked a little (with a filter on the end) and talked to a nice girl [4] from Calif. The remainder of the noche was spent discussing ways to trim weight.

By the way-the girls next door are hookers [5] .

Remember Airoquando & the Lazy Island.

The residencia is run by the “old lady”, a not so old black lady with at least 4 kids. Carlos-the tall one with the spacey eyes, Miriam-the waitress who will hand you your change after paying for the meal and the pull it away before you can grab it. She must be about 15(?) Then the tall thin one with the pretty face who doesn’t talk; and finally the little boy [6] Oliver who’s in charge of registering people in and out. He speaks English rather well (as do most of the older black folks) and is not above giving you a chuck in the ribs and saying “Floats like a butterfly - stings like a bee.” A playful sort.

There also are hammocks strung up in the courtyard, usually filled by locals, but sometimes the gringos have their turn - like this afternoon N. & I parked it there for a couple hours.

Despite all the horror stories being told about the mainland - we’re keeping a stiff upper lip and trusting our good karma.

Gettin D.O.’d in San Andres with dope from the whores next-door.

Mon Sept 18.

Went to the docks (no new info) and took pictures this morning . After lunch we got D.O.’d as above. N. asked ’em and they gave us a joint. Then down for some more frizzin’ and photos.

Correction: Miriam is not "one of the family”. She’s from somewhere near Bogota, here working & studying shorthand. And besides - she’s white .

Also - we enjoyed good guitar music last nite with the 4 foreigners. Met a guy from France and talked at lunch. Also getting to like the Aussies - Russel & Jenny . Tried swimming this morn with goggles & snorks - not satisfactory. Ate dinner at “Pescado Frito” with Leslie (the nice from C.A.). Good fresh fish. Followed by info trading time, with N. doing most of the talking about Bolivia. Sounds like good packing.

The little kid who keeps track of everybody was playing “World Capitols” today: i.e. try and name a country that he doesn’t know the capitol of. He’s named all the ones I know correctly plus several others. Very sharp but a loud mouth pain in the neck. (A real “thumbtack” as Leslie says)

Tues Sept 19.

Another crazy day in San Andres.

Another day of no luck at the docks. There’s a boat going to Providencia and then back here and then to Cartagena - or there’s the Johnnie Cay going to Cart. on the 30th. I was almost in favor of taking the boat to Prov. until we sat down at Jugolandia with Jay from Western Canada. There - discussing alternatives - we were met by a beautiful Oriental girl named Cantoo(?) who talked favorably about Prov. but not about the ship. Has a tendency to sink (she claims). Then again - she’d been through a crash on an airline (failed to take off.) Then she said she was flying to Cart. on Thursday. Alone. Needles to say - all three of us rushed off to the Sam office to buy our tickets, too.

Aye - but there’s the rub. No place to cash traveler's checks. 1st because its after 12:00 and the SAM office is closed. 2nd because its after 1:00 P.M. when all the banks close. 3rd because its after 2:00 and the SAM is open but won’t take payment in cheques. Finally, after having no luck at hotels, a gas station, and even with a police officer at our side - we managed to buy and cash both at the travel agency next door to SAM. Cost - $70 for 2 - 1 way. During all this the sky is getting darker, thunderclouds rolling in off the sea, and finally a downpour during our 12 - 1:00 phase.

The rest of the afternoon was spent getting high with pot from Leslie who left today but still has N. (and me) lusting. He wants to meet her somewhere in about Dec. or Jan. I wouldn’t mind it either.

We spent some time planning our assault on Cart. and discussed safety tips: keep money in money belt (only what you need for the day) passport in secret pants pocket(with emerg. trav. cheq.) remainder safely locked in hotel room. When traveling with all gear - keep a lookout 360O and don’t ever walk into crowds. The paranoia about Colombian cities runs high.

Also, lanced the nasty blister on my left little toe [7] . Have another on rt. but not bad yet.

Ate at Pescado Frito again. We talked with the fellow from Austria - then Camptu(?) the beautiful Oriental lady showed up and told again about her airline crash. Evidently the plane had just lifted off when one of the engines gave out - the plane skidded and landed in the bushes.

The rest of the evening was spent watching the replay of the Ali - Spinks Title fight. Russel was sick today but got well enough to come and watch the tail end of the fight.

Wed. Sept 20.

Awoke to a mild case of the shits. Not serious. Probably due to the grease at Pescado Frit.

Planned to go to Johnny Cay but after Miriam suggested El Aquario - we went there instead. Cost $1.70 r.t. and $.85 for mask & snork. Nice fish! Saw barracuda, urchins, and myriad multi-colored tropical fish. Not as nice as Isla Mujeres because it’s much shallower, but many colorful fish. The only thing is that the “ride” lasts approx. 1 hr. I looked up and everybody was out of the water but me. Costs $2.75 to stay all day. Just as well because I got rather burned even in that hour.

Then came back and tried frizzin’ - but too windy.

Talked at lunch with a Colombian from Providencia [8] who’s married with several kids. Talked about teaching English in Bogota. Jay - the Canadian, is planning on it. Then got into a long talk about sex, morals, family ethics, etc. a big thing was made about the terms used when describing sex - fuck, get laid, screw, make love, etc. were all ranked (with differing opinions) and attributed to various familial and social causes. Also talked about 1 parent families, its effects on children; the necessity of and trials of marriage. The Prov. held that man must get married - lord you know why. Whereas I pointed out the changing moral standards in the U.S. and both agreed that it’s not necessarily better.

Then N. met some guy next door while washing clothes who gave us a joints worth after lunch. N. went off to the beach, I read for a while then cut the blisters off my two little toes and taped them and tried walking - not good. I think my tennies may have to go. On my walk I ran into Jay, N., and others - Party in room 5 tonite! N. is out buying wine & do.

The whores next door keep playing old Beatles tunes sending me off into historical reveries. Like Strawb. Fields & Hey Jude.

Thurs Sept 21:

Last night N. managed to score almost an oz. for about 3 bucks. Much more than we cared to have. Got high for a while then went to the dining room and drank our Leibfraumilch with Jenny the Aussie and the Austrian fellow. Then when kicked out of there [9] - we retired (sans Jenny) to Jay & Raoul’s room where the Austrian told of steel milling etc.

Spent some time back in the room debating whether or not to carry any to Cart.

Awoke with the shits again today. Not diarrhea but not solid. Smoked some more and decided to try and carry about 6 in N’s backpack frame. Gave the rest to Raoul (from Puerto Rico - had driven a ’62 GMC Van to Costa Rica). Packed all our gear for heavy weather and readied for Cart.

Siegfried is the Austrian’s name. We sat around after lunch and smoked a goodby j. Talked for a while and then went to say goodby to Russel & Jenny. Truly fine folks. They’re heading for Bogota on Sat.(?)

Boarded the plane with Camptu. Maybe beautiful but very quickly a pain in the neck. A very unforgiving - hypercritical person. Upon arrival in Cart. we hired a taxi to go to Hotel Monaco for 30 pesos. While driving he suggested Hotel Roma so there we went. In went Camptu and back out a moment later - cost 125 pesos - too much. Off to Monaco. We waited for her to close the deal & barter her way down to 70 pesos each, and then the taxi driver wanted 50 pesos [10] . N. gave him 40 and C. went on and on about how a deal’s a deal etc. [11] I wound up giving the guy another 5 (45 total) and in we went.

Very like the hotel I stayed in the first nite Jan & I were here. In the same part of town. The rooms are not finished to the ceiling, a space of 5’ or 6’ between walls & ceiling. Easy enough to climb over. Yet it seems safe enough. [12] Chances are I’ll keep all valuables with me (money & camera).

Jenny has such a nice figure and always has something to say - as does Russel. He told the story about the bus riders going through Africa somewhere along a dusty-potholed road when suddenly from out of the bush comes a guy on an old Harley-Davidson wearing goggles & the whole bit jouncing along. Soon comes from the bush a lion no less and proceeds to chase the motorcycle. He speeds up and begins kicking one leg towards the lion. The bus speeds up to keep up with the cycle really bouncing along now. Finally the lion relents & goes back into the bush. When the cyclist stops he says to the bus driver “Bloody big dog back there, eh!” When told it was a lion - he packs the cycle onto the bus and climbs in.

Siegfried has a way of talking - very softly - almost mumbles. We got some antibiotics from him as he’s going back to Austria in a few days. He saw us off at the airport where we stopped to have a beer.

Cart. is much as I remember. Tho paranoid - it seems as though most people ask for the trouble they get.

I got quite a good sunburn at El Aquario yesterday. Just between where my shorts cover & my swim suit doesn’t.

FRI Sept 22:

Awoke to the squeaking fan. At least it didn’t fall & decapitate us during the night.

Went off to a local restaurant [13] for a good breakfast of huevos revueltos with tomatoes & onions, fried bananas on the side for 30 pesos. Then cashed $100 in cheques and proceeded to buy some post cards. Sat in the big park and wrote 2 then N & I walked along the old fortress wall until the heat became too much. We then wandered about, quite lost, trying to find the jugo stand we had seen last night. Several wrong turns later we managed to find it, and satiated our thirsts which were quite substantial. At the jugo stand we were joined by Andrew from N.J.

After a good nap during the heat of the day I wrote the other 2 cards and we walked off to the P.O. and mailed. Then we took a tour around the market. Never really went inside anywhere as most of the goods were in the shops right on the street. Then went to a rather good rest. where we ordered up a couple of nice steaks to revive our carnivorous instincts. From there we walked to the Plaza Bolivar and listened to the local band . Lady of the Hotel says they play every night. They’re quite good.

Cart. is a hustlin’ bustlin’ city with narrow streets, balconies, colorful buses , school kids in uniform, many police guarding the corners, and an almost totally black populace. The city is colonial in charm except for the garbage everywhere.(especially by the water front docks ).

We’ve seen Camptu in passing a couple of times but neither she nor we have stopped to talk.

Sat Sept 23:

Another hot one in Cart.

Awoke bright & oily and trucked off to La Popa - a monastery on top of a hill in the midst of town. Not such a long walk but the last 200 yds. or so were done not on the road but up a trail that led almost straight up. Needles to say - by the time we hit the top I was drenched with sweat and my little toes were sore. A nice vantage point - tho .

On the way back down we stopped at the bus station and inquired about buses to San Jacinto. Costs 62 pesos - we’ll go there tomorrow.

Aside from La Popa - I did little else today. I slept (too much) most of the afternoon. Only to be disturbed by the same loud song being played over & over again. These people have no notion of variety or moderation of volume.

When not sleeping I read for a while and N. went out to buy lunch (bread, cheese, honey, Coca’s) which we ate in the hotel room.

Andrew left today for Medellin & I Chinki (as N. calls Camptu) left for Bogota. What a critical and unlikable wench. While she was badmouthing the filth & noise of the city - N. was tempted to punch her out. She must be spoiled from the word go. She even got some little lady from the hotel here to carry her backpack for her. What’s the point if you can’t carry it yourself?

On our trip to La Popa I picked up another blister - this time on my heel. Its going to be a long walk to Tierra del Fuego. I also realized that carrying the camera bag with a pack is going to be a royal pain in the arse. I must try and re-arrange things to include at least some camera equip. in the pack itself.


[1] last night we met “Bruiser” a big black guy with muscles in his ears Very friendly fellow who shared his J&B with us while we were laying in the hammocks.

[2] and a couple

[3] Santa Barbara Queen

[4] Leslie

[5] Bruiser said so

[6] 12?

[7] Due to tennies

[8] Has a farm there too

[9] by a daughter, the tall, thin one always curling&un-curling her  hair

[10] she claims he gets a commision besides

[11] she would pay him no more

[12] The fan on the ceiling is wobbly & threatens to fall down with each  squeaky revolution

[13] Recommended by Andrew of N.J. who we met last nite.

Prologue::Table of Contents::Chapter 2