Danger Left Out

But there was much left out of the other account. When there are long days and nights and much drinking there can be danger and Cali has it. Yesterday the Chilean couple was robbed in the middle of the day on a busy street, one big black guy grabbing the little Chilean girl while two others pushed away her Chilean boyfriend. There was pushing and pulling and fighting but then a caleña stepped in with a knife to stop the Chilean and they ripped away the little Chilean girl’s bag and ran off. They only lost some money but the Chileans seem to have lost their will to go out.

Not far away the day before, one block from our hostel, as Hector and I were walking back 2 guys and girl came to the window of an apartment building and called out frantically to us to call the police. They had been held at gunpoint and tied up for hours while 2 men and a woman stole everything from their apartment. In fact it was a professional crew, with 5 more well-dressed and well-armed guys with earpieces working the door and the other floors, taking everything out of the 7 other apartments. Computers, tvs, jewelry, cash--they worked all 8 flats of the building and took it all and loaded it into a van parked in front.

And the other night at Menga, after the hottest girl in the club ran up to me and danced with me for 30 seconds then disappeared and Hector and I went looking for her, and when I stopped and stood to study the club from the back looking for her this fat man with glasses walked towards me and stood in front of me staring. I could see from his eyes that he was a bad man and I politely asked him what was wrong and he did not say anything. He did not stop standing in front of me staring and I did not know what to do and then a big muscular black guy came and stood behind the fat man. Hector ran up and tried to work it out and we thought we had settled whatever it was but even Hector did not understand the problem. The pretty girl had not been a part of their table.

Then I went to the bar and Hector to the bathroom and I did not know until Hector told me later that the fat man and the big black guy had followed him in. We had been to JalaJala the night before and Hector knew the bathroom attendant and when he saw the fat man and the black guy he started up a conversation with the attendant, trying to keep the attendant near him. That was when the fat man interrupted and finally spoke. He was a sicario, an assassin of the paramilitaries. It was heavy shit and he still did not know about what and Hector talked his way out of it and exited the bathroom.

We grabbed the Dutch guy who was working some caleña and forced him to leave the club. We were outside a few minutes when the fat man and the black guy walked out and the fat man got on his phone. I had visions of a hit being called in with the sicarios on motorcycles coming down from the mountains and I told the guys let’s walk quickly and grab a cab up ahead where the police were stationed.

The fat man and black guy didn’t see us as we ducked into the one room strip club owned by the one legged old man on crutches and I took the number of the black stripper I had danced with earlier. She was a pro and would no doubt cost me a lot of money if I called her. Then we ran out to a waiting cab and went back to the hostel in Granada, the Dutch guy refusing to believe the story of the assassin and annoyed we made him leave his girl at the club. But he got her number and would leave with her for Popayan the next day.

And on our first night I remember we were in a taxi on our way home from Menga and the short, dark Israeli with long hair was sitting in the passenger seat playing with a glock. He was high and fidgety on too much blow and was scaring the shit out of the taxi driver with the gun. Where did the gun come from? The Israeli talked like he had marbles in his mouth and was incomprehensible, flipping the gun from hand to hand and jittery. The Israeli girl asked him in Hebrew. He didn't know where the gun had come from. She asked him for it and he wouldn't give it to her. Finally she convinced him to give it up and there was a round in the chamber and we all felt better the gun was out of his hands. She sold the gun to a Colombian a few days later for $50.

And there was the other taxi ride the other night when three kids on the roadside hurled a rock at the open passenger side window where the blond haired Dutch guy was sitting. The rock hit the door just below the open window and the driver stopped and started to back up. We were in the car with 3 other girls and I told the driver if he is going to confront these 3 guys we are getting out right now and we won’t pay him a peso. He thought about it and then drove ahead. You had to be careful in Cali even if you weren’t a gringo.

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