Archive for September, 2009

La arepa mas caro del mundo?

by Alex on Sep.16, 2009, under Blog

El fin de semana pasado me visitaron mis padres, se quedaron conmigo en la casa que estoy guardando en el norte de Londres. Hicimos muchismas cosas incluyendo una visita a Camden Market, lo que es bien conocido por artesanía, ropa, comida etc. Hay comida de Egipto, Israel, Japón, Jamaica, India, Francia y otros paises. Lo que me sorprendió fue encontrar aprepas y lo que me sorprendió mas fue el precio. Si, se que acá es mucho mas caro que Colombia pero pagar 13,000 pesos por una arepa es una locura no? Bueno, viene con queso o carne pero aun asi 13,000 pesos? Pagar 4 libras me parece mucho (eso es cuanto cuestan) pero saber que se venden desde 600 pesos en Bogotá marca una grand diferencia entre acá y allá. Talvez deberia de cambiar mis planes de montar hostales en Colombia y vivir una vida Colombiana acá vendiendo arepas!

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We was robbed

by Alex on Sep.09, 2009, under Blog

Well I say we but it was my mate Cam rather than all of us.

A few weeks previously I’d bought an extendable baton after a spate of backpackers getting robbed on the streets of Candelaria (Bogota). No one had been hurt and it seems that generally, muggings in Colombia are not the violent gun and beatings-type that one hears of in Brazil and Venezuela, rather a case of very poor people knowing that foreigners are an easy target and will promptly had over their monies and possessions on the production of a knife. So my intention with the baton was not to beat people off, it was to carry as a display to the potential mugger that it’s probably better to find an easier target.

So, on my last night in Bogota before heading home for a while we headed out for a few beers. It was two and a half blocks to the bar and we were five, with baton in pocket I thought we were pretty low-risk on the getting robbed front. After about a block, a street guy who I’d seen before wandered up to us and started chatting to Cam, I didn’t want to deal with the inevitable ‘I’m not giving you an money conversation’ and wasn’t as watchful as usual feeling pretty safe due to the number of us. Suddenly the guy had grabbed Cam by his jacket with his right hand and had a piece of glass similar to your standard rule what we used to have in school held high in his left shouting to him to give him his money. I pulled out my baton thinking that the guy may decide that it’s best just to leave it. At this point, things and thoughts are going pretty quickly. Not being a Ninja and neither having had years of military training, quite what to do wasn’t as clear cut as one might hope. I was the other side of Cam, the glass ruler robber guy being a few metres from me. Cam was the one that would get hurt if the guy decided to stab and how much did I actually want to hurt this guy. Were I to aim for his head and connect with his temple I could actually kill him, hardly a fitting response to a glass ruler robbery, also, injuring him badly might make him lash out and then Cam gets hurt.

So, I went for the hand with which he was holding Cam, hoping he’d let go. The first strike got him on the back of the hand with the very tip of the baton – a metal disk that I guess is designed to channel the force of the blow through a very small area. With the second I hit him on the forearm a little down the shaft of the baton, it felt a bit tame when it connected and I questioned my decision to buy a plastic baton over a metal one. The guy wasn’t about to let go and I wasn’t sure what to do, I suppose that in these situations you need to be tough and fight without thinking too much but this was all new to me and there were so much information pouring into my brain that I couldn’t make decisions as quickly as I might like. One of the others shouted that Cam should just give him he money and so he fumbled in his pocket and handed over 10,000 pesos, about 3 quid/5 US dollars. The guy then ran away.

We were a little shaken, Cam less than some of the rest of us, he did well. One of the girls was already running to the square we’d been heading for and was telling a police guy what had happened, he didn’t seem to care. Another guy who’d seen what had happened was running towards us telling me that I should have some balls and run after the guy and give him a kick in, after all, we were five! Of course we chatted for ages about what we could have done and upon lightly hitting each other on the arm with the baton reckoned that I must have broken bones in the guy’s hand. And that was pretty much that. So I’ll now be vigilant irrespective of group size and invest in some cs gas when I get back. Oh and a new baton:

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I don’t have HIV, which is nice…

by Alex on Sep.04, 2009, under Blog

But I did absolutely shit myself for a short while.

Just before heading back to the UK I went for a sexual health checkup thing. I went to get my results, clearly expecting nothing untoward. I was gret, envelope in hand and smile on face by the lady who’d been there when I’d had my blood taken. Reaching out for the envelope, she walked past telling me that I had to see a psychologist.

That is when I shat my pants. Why? Why do I need to see a psychologist? What’s the matter? The fact that I’d done nothing risky didn’t help at all – employing logic at this point did nothing to quell the rapidly rising fear that I was experiencing. The only reason I could come up with for seeing a shrink was that there was some very very bad news coming my way.

Sitting in the waiting room I contemplated. What would I do? My life could be about to change in the most unimaginable way. How do I prepare my self for deteriorating health and a very premature death. Practically, what would I do, how would I earn money etc, how long did I have left?

‘Quite worried’ was my response to the ‘how are you’ with which the guy greeted me. ‘Wondering why I need to see you get get my results.’ ‘Don’t worry, it’s normal when ever you request an HIV test.’ Opens envelope, all negative, massive sigh of relief. The fact that I’d seen a psychologist before getting my blood taken had escaped my logical reasoning when searching the answer to my ‘why’ question. That too is standard fayre in Colombia. Apparently some employers try to demand that job applicants have an HIV test as part of the vetting process – this is illegal and so seeing an official before being tested is part of how people are protected.

The sense of relief was mental and I grinned and tittered most of the way to the airport, sharing with the cabby my good news.

Definitely not something to try at home…

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