Hostel Miramar was a good find. I stayed in the 5-bed dorm room, which was pretty dingy and really hot, but it was only $3.50 per night. The backpackers who were staying in the same room saw my bike parked by my bed and asked me about it. When I told them the story, they were impressed and I remember the English girl saying, “I have, like, mad respect for you.” It’s nice to have people be impressed by what you’re doing, but I try to be careful in that hostel setting. I didn’t want to succumb to that annoying, typical, hostel battle of who’s travel experience is more raw and exciting.
The first night in Santa Marta, I wandered around the waterfront, and sat down outside a convenience store where they served drinks. After having a Coke and a beer by myself, and getting up to leave, two Colombian guys, who were drinking next to me, asked me where I was from and invited me to sit down with them. They bought me a lot of beer; I think I had six by the end of it. Arturo and Eduardo were both lawyers, married, and in their forties, but they were passionate in telling me about the whorehouses in the area. They instructed me that “putas” in the whorehouses are safe (and great fun), but that the prostitutes on the street probably have HIV, or else they’ll try to drug and rob you. Apparently, some street putas put a chemical on their nipples that’ll put you to sleep.
Is this what you’d see at a Colombian whorehouse?
My lawyer friends urged me to visit one of the whorehouses. Arturo even offered to take me to one. I was drunk, and so I was thinking, “When in Rome …,” but it would have been weird. Although it seems that whorehouses and prostitution are an acceptable part of the culture in Colombia, I explained to my friends that it’s strange and taboo in the US. In the end, I decided against cultural immersion.
… or would you see this?
Arturo gushed about Colombian cocaine – top quality and great prices. As Arturo raved about it and made sniffing gestures, Eduardo sat back, disinterested. Eduardo was obviously not a drug user, but Arturo was passionate about it.
When Eduardo left for the airport, Arturo and I joined his friend at another table. Rene was an old, fat man who carried a cane. He spoke good English. As Rene explained, it was because he had lived in the US for some years. However, Arturo told me that Rene had spent five years in jail in the US because of his involvement in the drug trade – that’s why he spoke good English.