Sunday, January 10, 2010

Militant Urbistas vs. Pacifictic Peruvians

Casa Viena in Cartagena served as a great staging point for outings, both night and day. We opted for the Chiva bus last night, which is sort of like an old school bus painted Rasta colors with musicians onboard grinding away and shouting Vallenato music. We were packed in behind an accordion player who had the Wesley Snipes “Blade” do’ plus a rat tail and tossed a bottle of rum to start. I couldn’t figure what the objective of the Chiva was: a halfhearted city tour? An odd musical experience or a tipsy tourist dance off? We got all of these things, with very little gusto on the end of our guides, maybe the Chiva just was. 

The bus dropped us outside some clubs that looked too pricey and too full of prostitutes to be fun, so we drank the remaining rum outside by the beach. A couple from Medellin heard our English and were even more excited to discover 2 Yankee brothers they could talk to in Spanish. “Antonio” had his wife pose with us for several pictures, why? “Because you are Yankees and I have never had pictures with Yankees, I love you guys!” He then went on to declare proudly that he was a staunch “Urbista” (President Uribe supporter) and that he wanted a constitutional change for a third term to kick ass and take names.

His demeanor struck me very much of a pro-war conservative in the States post-9/11 and pre-Iraq number II. He kept firing his fake machine gun up into the air to emphasize his points: “and we’re gonna smoke out all those socialist bastards out of the jungle, RATATATAT YEAH!” And this guy was almost forty. It reminded me of when we drove by the naval base and saw a huge statue out front of a Colombian soldier, flag in one hand, mouth open wide (presumably yelling) with his machine gun pointed towards the sky. He didn’t mesh well with Daniel, a pacifistic Peruvian sculptor who was one of the only other sole Spanish speakers in what became “the gang” for the night. Daniel and Antonio were lightly sparring words all night, Daniel usually deferring to take the high road and admit that Colombia was safer because of massive military mobilization. “But it’s not that simple,” he would whisper to me “mobilization of right wing paramilitaries has displaced millions and killed thousands.” It’s a difficult subject to discuss, especially when your own country has been so involved (Colombia still receives about $500-600 million a year in U.S. military aid). While I’ve been apt to talk politics in Argentina and virtually everywhere else, in Colombia I have just been listening. 
We ended up on the magnificent city wall, listening to downtempo electronic music at Café Del Mar. The majority of the people on the wall had opted to hang out outside the club as opposed to club-priced beer and we chose to do the same. I polished of a great looking burger on the way back as well, green tomatoes and peppers, yum.   

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