Old habits die hard.
When you don’t want them to.
The Luckies bought in Colombia were ridiculously cheap so I find myself at the top of the house smoking out of my bedroom window again.
I tell everyone I’m a seasonal smoker. I’m breaking my own rules to be smoking on this last bitter February night. And I feel the cold very well.
It wasn’t like this in Colombia. There we were, various members of the upstanding expat community, all chugging away with our gin & tonics in the balmy heat.
Summer is there to be had all year round if you want to find it. Like the fact that when you’re cruising at 39,000 feet it’s always sunny.
Colombia was nectar to my parched body. It’s a country of contradictions. You visit the pocket sized desert; red, cracked and dusty, and can be back in the fecund landscape of the field and hedgerows within a few square miles. At times it was disarming how similar to the summertime English countryside it could be. As if we were transported into an HE Bates novel in June.
The suns sets hastily, without warning, if you don’t pay attention. There are massive trunked trees in the centre of many villages, like something out of the film Avatar. And they provide shade to the townsfolk.
Dogs that roam freely; hummingbirds; ridiculous quantities of lime and avocado; petrol stations not so easily paced, so that sometimes you thrill yourself by imagining that you will run out of fuel. Ancient stone cut statues that look so new and untarnished that they could very well have been modelled in fibreglass. What is real?
I don’t know much about magic realism. I do know that Colombia got under my skin. I couldn’t peel my eyes away from the windows as we ate up the milage. Charging down south to reach San Augustin.
For life-affirming experiences, perhaps Colombia topped them all. Without being too visceral to feel any intoxicating shame or personal conflict. I just lapped it up. Probably too much a spectator. Too much a tourist, but none the less engorged.