of flies and curses
my phone has slowly been losing its mind so i asked a local where to go to fix it. she told me to walk down the street to plaza royal or royal plaza, maybe a few blocks; it’s across from the chucherria deportes or something, and i should ask for someone… she couldn’t remember the name, el calbito; tell him she sent me. after a few turns and asking more locals i found the place but not the dude, so a guy sent me to another dude who said to call him that afternoon to make sure he went back to work after siesta. i called and he said to give him another hour. i went in an hour and waited for another hour under un sol bravisimo, an angry sun. caribbean time, i figured. he’ll be here. finally, i got him on the phone and he’s all, oh, we don’t work in the afternoon. for some reason, regardless of all the messiness of my regular spanish, my pissed off spanish is at an advanced level of proficiency. i let him know i no longer needed his services. i told the techie dude who initially sent me to the flaky dude when i couldn’t find el calbito about what happened and if he knew anyone else who could help me. “claro. dejame hacer unas llamaditas.” he sent me to calle 20, six or so blocks away, to a place across from the vidrio (glass) store, but not the first vidrio store, the second one. ask for pollo or coco, they’ll help me. after some more turns i found the vidrio store; i asked a lady in a fabric store and she pointed to the unmarked house where pollo and coco have a tech shop. i sat with them for several hours as coco fixed my phone. caribbean success.
the next day, i took my friend there to get his hard drive fixed and i told him we would likely be there for a few hours. he’s all, “can we just leave it here and have him call us when it’s ready?” and i’m all, “uh… no.”
“i don’t know. you just don’t do that. you sit here with your shit.”
“i trust this guy. i don’t think he’ll steal it or anything.”
“hmm… it’s not that. i trust him too, but you just don’t do that here. i can’t explain it. it would be weird. you don’t leave your shit around like that.”
this tale exemplifies two things about the colombian coast:
thing 1) everything is always more complicated and slower than you would initially think.
my nuclear family suffers from what i call “the romano curse.” if you ask my parents for assistance with any problem, it will get solved, but the path from A to B involves a very long line of twists and turns so convoluted and ridiculous you wish you’d never said anything at all. you can swear up and down that you can practically touch B from where you stand at A, but they will insist only an idiot would fall for that straight path nonsense. their existence is one where getting to a destination does not involve street names and gringo logistics. it’s more about general impressions and visual memory, and the people who you have to ask along the way. i’m quickly realizing the romano curse is actually just a colombian thing, or maybe a coastal thing. there’s never really a rush do get things done, but there is a strong sense of pride in ensuring how you do it is cost effective, has optimum results, and, for no particular reason, involves several people with quirky nicknames. the most beautiful part of the curse is in knowing that everything will work out in the end; if it hasn’t worked out, then it’s not the end.
thing 2) we don’t trust anybody.
mosca. when i was getting ready to arrancar over here, every member of my family took it upon his or herself to school my apparently naive ass on the dangers of colombia. they’re gonna kill you. you’ll get kidnapped. remember when they drugged your cousin a million years ago and she woke up in some warehouse and didn’t remember anything? they may take your organs and sell them. they will express kidnap you for a day and force you to take all the money out of your atm and max out your credit card. people inside a bank will communicate with people outside of the bank about how much money you have and then they will mug you. don’t use your phone in public! they will steal your soul. those people are crazy. but it’s a beautiful place! you’re going to love it!
any attempts i made to remind them that while i did not grow up in colombia, i did grow up colombian, didn’t help. i’m just a gringa. “mosca!” my dad tells me. “you have to watch everybody like a fly.” what do you think i was doing all those years in miami when i was places no 15 year old should be? i was born mosca, yo.
all the locals here preach mosca too. it’s sad to me at times. i assume this engrained mistrust is born of decades of betrayal by each other. that, and the violence and thievery created by rampant poverty and oppression. “no puedes confiar en nadie. la gente aqui son unos hijueputas. rateros! se aprovechan.” does that include you too? all i can ever say to folks is “that’s not just here, you know.” hijueputismo seems to be a part of the human condition. colombians did not birth their own breed of malevolence. and while they may agree with me in theory, they still won’t leave their shit anywhere. myself included. we just don’t do that here.