"I've got a story for our Blog" Gordon tells me one evening. A few minutes later he e-mails it to me. "Yeah right, this really happened?" I say after reading it. "I can't post it, I have no pictures."
Santa Marta, Columbia — February, 1986
Every once in a while you have an experience that sharpens your pencil of reality, the fragility of life and the ridiculous nature of the human being.
It was a warm tropical night with a soft breeze blowing in from the Caribbean. The locals had packed the night club and I was enjoying the moment. The beer was cold and women were beautiful, a young man’s dream but eventually the need to urinate determined my fate.
The undersized caballeros room resembled a galley on a sailboat, a tight fit, to say the least. I edged up to the last urinal to relieve my swollen bladder. Ah, the simplest of pleasures, but my temporary nirvana was put on pause by a very large man with a grotesque scar on his cheek who settled into the urinal beside me. He glanced down at me from his enormous height and with a menacing island drawl asked me how I would like to die.
Slightly defensive I retorted, “why me?”
“You fucking Americans, you steal my life and now you shall pay.”
“Whoa, whoa…tell me what happened, why are you so angry?” I pleaded.
“Club Fed,” he said.
I misheard his comment and replied, “Club Med, they’re not so bad and they’re all-inclusive and I hear the chicks are pretty hot.”
“Club Fed you fool Yankee, a big Miami jail, locked up for two years and now I’m going to slit your throat.”
Quickly I reached into my back pocket and pulled out my Canadian passport, thrust it in front of his enormous head and stated, “I’m not American, just a Canadian on vacation, please don’t kill me!”
“What, you a Canadian? Canadians are cool. I had a hot chick from Quebec once, a lively one she was.”
The largest grin I have ever seen appeared on his face and he relaxed finished his piss and said, “man, let’s you and me have a beer.”
With the relief only experienced when your life has been spared, I agreed. We sat at his table and he ordered a couple of cold ones. He told me his story, working on a fishing boat, not asking what was in the cargo hold and earning ten times the average fisherman’s wages until the fateful day the DEC and the Coastguard boarded the boat in US waters; the crew nailed for the twenty kilos of cocaine and two hundred kilos more of marijuana stored below.
I thanked him for the beer, but he insisted on buying another round and since he had elected not to slit my throat and he was paying I said “why not.” But another turned into another and now I was feeling trapped by this lonely Columbian giant – what could I do?
Suddenly, my get out of jail card approached our table and with an outstretched hand she whisked me away from my captor and into the chaotic bliss of the dance floor. I felt saved and danced the night away.
Blogging has its benefits: My reserved guy is revealing stories I've never heard before, and apparently there are many more. No more excuses, now I know that he can dance the night away. I'll be safe on the road as long as I have my Canadian passport in my back pocket - Ginette
7 thoughts on “Gord’s Travel Tales: Close Call in Columbia”
I can imagine that was scary. And I laughed about his being held captive until the señorita rescued him. Thanks for the tale, Ginette— and Gord. –Curt
Memories of cold beer, beautiful women and a little excitement are fun to re-live – Gord
Indeed they are. (grin)
Phew! That sounds close! Great read Gord, and glad there are no accompanying pictures 😀
Thanks Madhu, It was an interesting evening in Columbia, one of many on that trip which I’m trying to put into words.
Great travel story and a lot more “exciting” than anything we ever hope to experience on our journeys! Kind of makes me wish we had backup Canadian passports (as much as we love the US) as some countries’ perception of Americans are tainted by so many past actions of a large and increasingly militaristic government…
Anita and Richard, I was twenty-seven at the time not too concerned with my welfare, slightly more adventurous than I am now. Sometimes you find yourself in the wrong spot at the wrong time and you rely upon your wits to save you or in this case my Canadian passport. I hope you read my next story on Columbia:)