Hi. My name is Keely, and I have to leave the country by March 11 or I will be deported. Yes, you read that correctly. I have tried to obtain the proper documents, been have been given the run-around and the whole thing has really taught me two things. a) you should lie to people at the deportation office and tell them you have fallen in love with a Colombian and for this must stay in the country as long a possible OR you should obtain a volunteer visa before coming (that is if you elect to tell them the truth about what you are doing here) b) life really is about all the moments when you end up in places you never expected to be.
And that is what this blog post is about. I could rant and rave about Colombia officials electing to not give me a visa despite several valiant attempts. Or I could tell you all about how I was within an inch of losing my life as I was running across the street to get in the visa line (third time that day) and due to my cat-like reflexes barely missed being wiped out by a motorcycle. But no. I choose to tell you all about the things that I have experienced in the last few weeks by accident, the joys of wandering.
And I will begin with my trip to Bogota to obtain said Visa. Yes, the visa was a bust. But I had an amazing time seeing the city. I went to Monserrate, the gold museum. I walked around the center of town with my fabulous tour guide Magnolia and learned all about Colombian history in a photograph exhibit at an art museum. I ate a delicious pincho and an even more delicious “colombian lunch”. I never really planned to do any of it– but because things were the way they were I got to enjoy it. and now so do you:
Wandering story number 2: about a week ago I had one of these moments. The moments where I think I am pretty darn smart and that I have this whole Colombia thing totally figured out. It was the moment I decided to take the “pance 10” (a private bus) home from Oscar Scarpetta instead of the “mio” (the public bus) Why you ask? Well, two reasons: a)lazy/hungry and didn’t want to wait b) I knew this bus. I took it TO oscar scarpetta all the time. “IT PASSES RIGHT BY MY HOUSE”– the first of many times I told myself this lie.
So I board the bus at 6:15ish. I pass through the usual areas. I get to a stop where I know I can get off and catch “the mio” but due to reasons a) and b) previously stated, I stay on the bus. I continue basically on a route that I know. I start to hear the bus driver guy say we will pass 22nd street. Yes, this means I will pass beyond my house… but surely we will circle back- because THIS BUS PASSES RIGHT BY MY HOUSE.
It is around 7:30 when I start to realize maybe I have made a mistake. The bus is packed with people. Clearly we are going somewhere. But it most definitely is not anywhere I have ever been. In fact, it appears we are no longer actually in Cali. But I stay on the bus… yes people. I am that stubborn, or just that stupid that I continue to tell myself that this bus passes by my house. I stay on as we make cutback after cutback in this small dirt-road town. Until the last passenger gets off. Until we take one more turn and the bus stops. Until the driver turns to me and says “this is the terminal” (ps it about 8:20) at which point I say: and if I need to get back to Cali… what exactly do I do? He points to the terminal– the terminal consists of 2 men, a punch-clock and a little wooden roof. So naturally I get out, walk through the dark and say “hi I need to get back to Cali.”
I am greeted by doubled over laugher from these two guys” you are not from here are you” “Nope, I’m American” They finally stop laughing and tell me to relax a few minutes that the “pance 10” is leaving in just a minute. We get to chatting, I inform them what I am doing here… and suddenly find myself in a conversation with one of them about how he can go about getting a paternity test for his girlfriend’s child. “Yes” I say “I work with kids who are under protection of the state… but not really in that capacity. I have absolutely no idea how one would go about requesting such a test.” PS- at this point in the story, please take a moment to remember I am in the middle of nowhere at 8:30 in Colombia. Oh, and a little point I did not mention– I have an inflatable swimming pool in a bag in my hand (that has no relavence… I just think it is a funny image)
Finally I get the nod and get on the “pance 10” these are those little buses where you can sit in the front in the captain seat, or climb up the steps in the usual “bus door” I enter the bus the good ole fashion way- through the “bus door” on the side. Suddenly about 10 adolescents approach the bus. I get nervous… just for a second. What would I even do if something were to happen at this moment? And then I realize huh… they are all lining up. huh… they are definitely going to push the bus. huh… this bus definitely will not start on its own. huh…. it really is quite a jump when you pop the clutch on a 15 year old totally beat up mini bus. but we are on our way none the less.
we pick up passenger number 1 (with child) The bus driver pops open the front seat door. Let me explain that this is a sort of luxury. For one to sit in the front seat, sometimes the driver lets a family member or friend sit up there… sometimes a younger guy who takes the money for you when you enter other times a beautiful young woman will get this luxury. I think to myself– oh, this must be a friend. The guys sits down. Pays. The bus driver says “can you do me a favor… can you get in the back” So then, this guy and his 4 year old child have to climb over the seat and get in the back of the bus. “Strange” I think to myself. passenger 2: two women with kabodooles and a baby. Driver pops open the passenger seat. Ladies pay. They relax… a moment of gratification that they were privileged enough to get the front seat. 1 minute later “can you do me a favor…. can you get in the back” And there they go. climbing over the seat with child!!
By this time I am totally amused. I am the only person on the bus who knows full well that the normal side “bus door” works perfectly fine. And each passenger its the same story: Enter. Pay. Moment of gratification. Begin to get comfortable. “can you do me a favor, can you get in the back” . A look of puzzlement but compliance. And over they climb. The whole bus ride home was like this. AND he made them get off the bus the same way. He made old men, beautiful woman, people with kaboodools (and babies) climb over to get off the bus too!!! And yes, for all those wondering. He let me off the side door. I might not be able to get a Visa, but at least I have the respect of the bus drivers. Or maybe he just thought “there is no way this giant is going to get herself over this seat without kicking me in the face” Either way, it served me well. Oh, and just for those of you keeping score: I got home around 10:15– still lazy, VERY hungry, but laughed the entire 5 block walk home to my house (turns out, at least in the evening time, this bus never actually passes by my house).
It might not seem like much. But moments like these for me are the real keepers. The moments where you experience this hilarious scene that you really never should have been privy to see. The accidental events.
I’ll end with another quick one. I got lost in downtown Cali a week and a half ago. I mean, I “knew where I was” I just “didn’t exactly know where I was” Anyway, 10 minutes of walking and I totally accidentally stumbled upon this awesome church:
These moments happen to me all the time here (probably because I wander/wonder a lot more that I do back home). Such great stories and memories.