In the morning, Pau discovered a ladybug with no spots in our tent.
The next day, we got a few rides, but then spent several hours waiting for a lift in a small town. Finally a trucker with a tarped load agreed to take us to Bogotá, under one condition. I would have to sit in the back, on the cargo, and Pau had to sit in the front with him. I was skeptical, but Pau said "OK!" She didn't seem to find anything suspicious about the request. I was a little worried, but I figured that long as the truck was moving, the man's hands had to be on the wheel. So I climbed up on the tarp and made myself comfortable.
It was a long ride through winding mountains. I had a bottle of soda and could sit back and enjoy the view. The weather was perfect. The wind that rushed passed me smelled fresh and foreign. I felt isolated, like an island. I was so far from home and with nothing except the clothes on my back. Stranded.
A few hundred feet above me, I noticed the silhouette of a great bird against the blue sky. It was flying in the same direction as we were driving, but it didn't flap its wings or spiral up thermals. It just hung freely in the air. From the distance, it didn't seem to be moving, but I suppose it was traveling in the same direction as we were.
I decided to finish the trip and hitch the rest of the way home. I could go shopping for some essentials and carry what I needed in plastic bags from the store. I could continue traveling without a backpack. My backpack was not my vehicle. I am my vehicle.
We arrived in Bogotá at night and were dropped off along the highway outside the city. It was not raining, but the ground was wet and covered in puddles. We asked a policeman for directions to the firehouse. Instead of answering, he asked where we were from.
"I'm American," I said.
"I am Ecuatoraina," said Pau.
"Let me see some ID," said the cop.
"Well, actually, my passport was stolen... you see... I only have my driver's license." I fished it out of my wallet and handed it to him.
"Very peculiar," he said, looking it over. "I am going to have to verify this." He walked away.
Pau and I waited patiently. "Cops here are so worthless," I said.
"Yeah," she said. "He should be helping us!"
"Ask for directions... he checks our identity. Like he needs to verify that I'm a foreigner."
After about a minute, I started to wonder where the pig was going.
"I don't think he's coming back," I said.
Pau said nothing.
"I'm going to go after him."
I jogged down the road. The cop was meandering along, looking the license over front and back. He didn't seem in a hurry. He seemed to find it kind of interesting. I jogged up beside him.
"Uh... can I have that back? I need it."
He seemed surprised, but kept walking. "Oh no, you are here illegally. I am going to get you deported." Pau ran up along the other side of him.
"No, I'm here legally," I explained, following alongside him. "Got my stamp at the border and everything! But the passport was stolen. Over in Cali."
"You're making that up," said the policeman smiling.
Pau was getting mad. "You are such a worthless cop! Why can't you do your job instead of tormenting backpackers?"
The policeman seemed to think the situation was humorous. He turned and walked back the way he came, causing Pau and I to double back and continue following him.
"I really need that," I told him. "It's my only identification. Can I have it back?"
"Oh no," said the cop. "You are illegal immigrants. I'm going to deport you." He grinned.
His amusement made Pau madder. Her anger seemed to amuse him further. She started yelling things I didn't understand. But the cop understood them and chuckled.
This went on for a little while. Pau yelled things, and the policeman grinned harder and replied calmly that we were illegals and that he was just doing his job, and so on. And Pau got madder and madder. I just wanted my driver's license back.
When I had a good opportunity, I reached over and snatched it out of his fat fingers as swiftly as I could. He gasped. "See? You are illegals... and thieves too! Yes, I'm going to need to arrest you." He grinned from ear to ear.
Pau absolutely lost it. "YOU ARE WORTHLESS! A PIECE OF SHIT! FUCK! YOU!" She gave him the finger and stormed off. I followed her. "Don't worry about it. I got the ID. He's a dick. Cops are dicks. It's no big deal."
When Pau calmed down, she told me about the trucker. "That driver was such a creep!" she said. I was surprised that she was surprised.
"Didn't you think something was fishy when he wanted you to sit alone in the front with him?" I asked.
"Nooo," she said. "I didn't know why he said that, but I didn't think anything of it. But he was so... uncomfortable! He kept asking me all kinds of weird questions."
"Like about sex! He asked how often I have sex! So I avoided the question. But he said 'Hey, we're adults. It's normal conversation.'"
"That sucks," I said.
"And he called his mistress. 'Yes OK, I will meet you tonight.' And he hung up with her and called his wife. 'Yes, OK honey, I will see you on Sunday.' He is disgusting! And he asked about you too!"
"Like if I have sex with you. And what are the gringos are like in bed. And what are gringo penises like? Arrrrgh!"
I chuckled. "Gee that sucks. You should have just ignored him."
"I tried! I just looked out the window but he reached over and said 'Hey. Hey.'" she shook my arm. "'Did you hear me? I asked about the gringo penis.'"
The firemen didn't have a place for us to stay, so we went to an internet cafe. There, we found a host who offered to pick us up from near the fire department. We were fortunate enough to have a place to stay until Pau's friends returned from their trip.
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