I am not writing this to rouse concern. In fact, I considered not writing anything at all for that very reason, but it’s a decent story and I’m in the business of story telling.
My friend lives about 25 blocks from the Transmilenio stop “Calle 100.” He had called together a group of his friends at his apartment so I could get to know more people here. I prepared chicken, salad and plantains at home before heading out (yum!), bought some wine down the street and head on my way.
By the time I got off the Transmilenio at Calle 100, I was feeling the need to use the bathroom. But hey! I was only about 20 blocks away and then faster I walked, the faster I’d get there. About ten blocks in, my stomach was hurting worse and worse. Vomiting on the side of a major road was not what I had in store for my Saturday night. I told myself to suck it up and keep walking.
Five or so more blocks in and I had to rest at a bus stop shelter, putting pressure on my swollen belly and taking slow, deep breaths. I looked at the street sign– Carrera 63– and then down at my hand where I had written my friend’s address– Carrera 67. I was so close! I got up, walked a half a block more and then I couldn’t take the ache. I for a spot in the grass in the shadows beside a building and curled up on the ground, growing more and more feverish.
What I imagine was approximately five or ten minutes later, I heard a voice.
Not wanting to lift my head, I retorted, “SI!” curtly.
“Mira, trabajo al lado. Esta frio. Quieres ir adentro?” (Look, I work next door. It’s cold. Do you want to go inside?)
It’s not cold! I thought, burning up. Then, I realized this was probably my best chance to get to a bathroom. Finally, I looked up to find a strange silhouette standing over me, backlit by street lights. The man was wearing some sort of over-sized Mad Hatter-shaped hat. Was I delirious? I tried to get up, but was dizzy and wasn’t doing a very good job. He took my purse on one shoulder and threw my arm over his other shoulder. He asked me some questions, but I wasn’t listening. I was just trying to focus on walking.
We entered the place next door, which was a bar. Suddenly, I saw more people with hats: in the light, I could make them out as Kelly green, matching, green polos. By the Irish décor of the place, I came to the conclusion that these were not Mad Hatter hats, but Leprechaun hats acting as some sort of cruel uniform.
“Baño,” I mumble to the Leprechaun of average height walking me in. He leds me up the stairs and through a maze of tables, at which point the majority of the clientele were watching what appeared to be an extremely inebriated girl being assisted to the washroom. “Come on Eileen” was the song playing in the background.
I’ll spare you the details of the next part. Let’s just say my best conclusion is that I had gotten food poisoning from the chicken I bought at the market. I worked on… er… ridding myself of said toxics and then went back down stairs. Another Leprechaun brought me a pint of soda water with lime, which FYI is actually a really good remedy.
I should probably mention that I had no way to be in touch with my friend: his phone had been robbed the day before. Also, as I’m sitting on the red, cushioned bench downstairs, feeling a bit better, I noticed that my friend’s address had been erased from my hand, from excessive hand-washing. It was probably for the best, because I wasn’t particularly in the mood to go to the party from there, anyway. I decided to cut my losses and asked one of the employees to call me a cab. “Bizarre Love Triangle” by New Order plays in the background as I switch between taking off and putting on my coat, my body temperature switching between hot and freezing.
The taxi came and got me, the staff waved good-bye and I returned home for a night of recovery.
I laid in bed last night thinking about my experiences with Irish Bars over the years: “Wherever,” the bar in Buenos Aires that took a chance hiring an illegal foreigner with less-than-sparkling Spanish; “Kieran’s” in Minneapolis, the welcoming pub that treated me well and helped fund my move down south; and now “The Dublin Irish Pub” in Bogotá. Life has some funny patterns, huh?
By morning, I had pretty much gotten it all out of my system and was feeling much better.
Like I said, I don’t want people back home to worry and I hope sharing this anecdote doesn’t inadvertently do that. I also don’t want you readers to think that I simply had a stroke of good luck. This wasn’t luck: this was proof of the kindness of strangers and, truly, there are reminders all around us. I hope this story acts as a testimony to the remarkable quality of humanity, even if the same can’t be said about its raw meat.
Have faith, live life, help others.