My best line here in Colombia was when I was interviewed for television the first day and they asked what I liked best about Colombia. I said, Juanes, and when they heard that I had heard him in concert, they were very pleased. Juanes is a Colombian superstar and we saw him in concert last summer at the Hollywood Bowl. Lucky for me.
We read our poems for more children today and they danced, but then they wanted us to dance too. We got into costume and danced with the children, and then they wanted us to have a dance off. It got down to me and the Japanese poet from Peru. She was wildly enthusiastic as a dancer. She explained to the children that many bad things have been done to the Japanese around the world that have caused them to migrate to South America especially the Americans in California putting them into concentration camps. She had some martial arts moves that probably weren’t true ninja moves. I was pretty sure that my Minnesota Swedish grandparents were not responsible for Manzanar. At any rate, she did win the dance contest, but I felt it was a sympathy vote. We got a tour of the village and went through people’s houses. They had chickens, turkeys, pigs and some of the wealthy people have cows. The people are happy and live very simple life.
Let’s get to my arrival in Bogota which was not without incident. It’s a one hour flight from Monteria to Bogota. The plane had delays and arrived an hour late. The conference people had assured me a car would be there to take me to my hotel. No car. No person with sign. I called on some guy’s phone and they said the car should be there.
He gave me a ride for 30,000 pesos to the hotel. Everything was wrong. He had me pay him up front. He wouldn’t give me change. He didn’t drive a real taxi. They said the hotel was supposed to be ten minutes away but he said it would take us twenty-five minutes.
Only it ended up being 50,000 pesos because he wouldn’t give me change.
It was actually $25, but handing over an amount of money that made me feel like I was a blond gangster.
He dropped me here at this hotel and they checked me in. They ordered dinner for me because they seemed unenthusiastic about my going out to find a restaurant.
My dinner came an hour and a half later. The guy who delivered it wouldn’t accept a tip and the dinner was chicken and potatoes and it was $10, and he threw in a beer.
Colombia is full of surprises.
This hotel for one. It has a nice bed and a television that works.
The roof is partly open/non existent.
There were no plastic forks or knives. Instead they had plastic gloves to eat your food with.
The rain is coming in through the open roof on every floor. The water is rising in this hotel and it’s still raining.
I should keep the plastic gloves in case I want to eat something tomorrow and I have no plastic ware on the plane.
It’s cold in this hotel room and I am ready to go home.
Morning. I see the city of Bogota. I have ruby slippers and they will take me home. Okay it’s actually Jet Blue, but close enough.