Monday, August 07, 2006

Squatter Paradise, Police Frisking in Colombia, and here in Taganga

Squatter Paradise
Spent a couple of days in Playa Blanca, beautiful white sand beaches on an island near Cartagena. Place is pretty tiny, that the place I stayed was complete with squatter toilets, showering by hand with buckets and zero running water....but for two days, it was absolutely beautiful.

Frisked by police in Cartegena
This is my second time in Colombiea where it's been dry. Due to the presidential re-elections, there is no alcohol to be served or sold for 3 days (from Saturday till Tuesday). On Saturday night, about ten of us from the hostal I was staying at went out in Cartagena. While out, one Aussie guy with us, Courtney bought 10 cans of beer for all of us to enjoy, on the 'black market' from a street vendor. Me, Courtney and this English guy Phil, headed for the beach to drink while the others waited for a friend to meet up with all of us. We were about to start drinking by the juice stands near the beach, when I noticed a Policia Nacional coming our way. Cartagena was swarming with cops since the president was in town. The city was actually quiet with not too many people on the streets. Usually it's active with people offering to sell you drugs, etc., and there's bars and clubs and music all around. But when the country is dry, you're not allowed to buy or sell alcohol. Anyway, as we were walking, a cop came from the other side and stopped us. We were caught red-handed. We were put up against the wall and frisked. They searched every pocket, in our shoes, everything. What they were really looking for was drugs. But being good, honest global ambassadors, we had none. They gave us our beer back and we all thought they were gonna let us go. We started walking away with the beer when they told us to wait up. They made us walk with them 5 minutes away to the old center. We asked the one cop if we could just go back to our hostal.
He said no.
He then explained that having alcohol at this dry time is punishable for up to 24 hours in jail.
Oh shit.
Being thrown in Colombian jail is not exactly my idea of a holiday.
When we got to the old town, he pointed to wall where about 5 Colombians were standing in a lineup. At first we thought he wanted us to identify the person who sold us the beer on the street. Fortunately I wasn't the one who purchased it, so I wouldn't be the one with a hit on my ass for being a rat. But instead, the cops wanted us to stand with them in the lineup.
They kept us there for 10 minutes, which felt more like 10 hours.
Are they gonna real throw us in jail?
Are they just trying to scare us?
Are they trying to set us up by having us keep the beer?
Do they want to confiscate the beer and keep it for themselves to drink?
Crap, crap, crap, crap, crap.
Eventually the two cops walked us over to their police chief who was a husky, chubby lady around 50. She looked like a cross between a Colombian Aunt Jemima and the Pillsbury Dough Boy. She proceeded to tell us that they were going to let us go with just a warning. Phew, playing ignorant tourists worked. But of course, not until she first gave us a lecture. We all said, it felt like getting reprimanded by your mother when you were a child for doing something wrong. She explained the whole country was dry for the next 3 days during the presidential re-elections (this fact still boggles my mind - I mean, it's Colombia of all places!) She told us 'no alcohol, no drogas, no sexo'. Even Phil the English guy who spoke little Spanish understood that part. Although we were all a bit perplexed by the whole no sex part. After they let us go, they smiled at us and were actually friendly.
We then went back to the hostal and chilled out on the terrace there. The owner of the hostal actually gave us some beer since we were inside his premises. So we would have been fine if we just stayed at home and drank there. Oh the irony.
Anyway here are some photos of the beautiful colonial city that is Cartagena. I'll be doing the Ciudad Perdida (Lost City) trek for the next 5 days, so I won't be broadcasting again till Sunday. Anyway, enjoy!

The Fishing Village of Taganga where I'm at right now at sunset this evening


At 9:17 AM, Blogger thaiboi said...

Good thing you weren't frisked by Aunt Jemima... or the Pillsbury Dough Boy. Just think what would have happened if you were caught romping during the re-elections...


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