…and in a 5 star hotel in Medellin surrounded by prostitutes.
I probably should explain.
I flew into Puerto Obaldia on Wednesday, a village just near the border of Colombia. From there the normal route is to get a boat to Capurganá at which point there are multiple options for onwards travel.
I wanted to try to walk as much as I could – ideally to Capurgana! – so after landing and hitting immigrations I grabbed my stuff and started wandering towards the edge of town. I did not get very before some members of the Panamanian Army stopped me and explained in no uncertain terms that walking was not allowed. Not un-advisable, not un-safe (although that was implied), but un-allowed.
Despite being only 7.5km, they weren’t going to let me walk it. Bugger.
Ok, so back to the fallback plan, the boat. Grabbed one and got him to drop me off around the head of Puerto Obaldia, still on the Panamanian side of the border. Success! From there I started making my way South East, eventually hitting the tiny village of La Miel. Wasn’t the easiest going, but no need to cut my through – a good thing, as I’d sent my machete home with James.
Once at La Miel the route becomes clear, and at one point I even found some guard/lookout huts, the barbed wire overgrown with grass and flowers.
I eventually made it to Capurgana, filthy and exhausted, and checked into the first hotel I could find. Showered and somewhat refreshed I wandered around town, and quite quickly found there wasn’t much to it, so settled myself at a beachside bar for an celebratory meal.
While enjoying my cup of decadence I met an Australian (of course…) called Steve and we started chatting. Steve runs a bunch of hotels in Medellin which “cater to rich Westerners,” in his words. “Cool” I think, “that’s different from most people I meet.”
We chat for a while and he advises me on how best to get to Medellin – a boat to Acandi, then a cheap flight to one of Medellin’s two airports. Beats 10 hours on a bus which was my initial plan, and only marginally more expensive.
So, next morning I jump onto a boat with Greg and we make our way to Acandi, where a horse and cart awaits to take us to the airport.
I say airport. I mean a strip of tarmac, a dilapidated building complete with the shell of a plane, and Colombian Army everywhere. Apparently Farc (or another terrorist group) are still a concern here.
The juxtaposition of a nice, new shiny white airplane, complete with stewardesses in uniform and makeup, with the broken up tarmac and overall semi-destroyed, overgrown surrounds, was severe.
Once landed Steve offered me his hotel to spend the afternoon in, as my flight out of Colombia wasn’t for 5 hours. Sure, kicking back in a 5 star hotel doesn’t sound bad at all! When we arrived I was pleasantly surprised by the 8-9 girls all lounging around the pool in various state of undress. While we chat over a coffee things start to rearranged themselves in my mind, and suddenly it clicks. They’re all putas, or prostitutes in english.
This is what Steve means when he says the hotels “cater to rich Westerners.”
God the things I get myself into. Well, the eye candy wasn’t unappreciated and when the girls realised I’m not the kind of guy to pay they stopped being outrageously flirty and we started chatting normally. Bloody interesting way to end my stay in Colombia.