I know I can often surprise my friends and families with the things I do, but it’s not often that I surprise myself.
My curiosity seriously gets the best of me sometimes…
As my blog is slowly growing and people are getting more curious I’ve decided that I need to start exposing a little bit more about the adventures of backpacking. I’m going to start writing about the good, the bad and the possibly dangerous.
(As I wrote that, I imagined a cartoon version of me and my blog popping up on the tv. I had a Zorro type of mask with a cape blowing behind me as cartoon me is standing on top of the world and an announcer in the background is saying, “Tune in next time to see what happens to Pablo as he attempts to wrangle a rhino!” or something like that…I’m weird I know)
Anyway….cough cough, what was I saying?
So… did I ever tell you about the time I acted as a translator for a cocaine deal? No? Well…
(Mom if you’re reading this, remember, I came back alive and well, it’s in the past and now it’s a funny story)
I had been in Central America for a few weeks at this point. I have been staying in a hostel for a few days and am friends with a guy from the UK (UK) and a guy from France(Marseilles).
It’s early evening and as we’re having some drinks and playing pool we find out about an outdoor reggae concert that is happening that night just a few blocks down the street.
We finish our drinks, take a shot and head out.
With the music growing louder and the streets becoming more dense with people we make our way to the concert taking place at a local park.
The three of us take turns buying rounds of beer as some reggae groups sing Spanish influenced sounding Bob Marley tunes.
We’re having a hell of time. The music is raging through the speakers and crowd is alive. Strobe lights and lasers fire into the crowds.
We get into some nightclub overlooking the concert where some girls we know buy us rum and coke and hang out with us for a bit.
We head back down and then things slowly start getting crazy…
We’re all dancing when UK leans over and yells, “I’m going to look for some blow”.
I just nod and say I’ll be right here.
I turn back around to see where Marseille went. He’s in the middle of some dance circle with his shirt off going crazy. I decide I need another drink as I’m taking this all in.
Over the next 15 minutes I watch as Marseille gets down with the locals and as UK walks around to random people rubbing his nose with his thumb in a sign to show he’s looking for coke.
I was loving it, such a crazy night.
I lost site of UK and out of nowhere he pops up behind me muttering English to some local guy, talking about how I was his translator.
Pause – My thought process
This is one of those moments when I can be safe, politely decline, walk away and head back to the hostel…or run with it. Say yes, help with the exchange then continue on with the night.
It’s these moments when I ask myself, “What will make the better grandpa story that I can tell my grand-kids when I’m old?”.
To hell with it…
Yeah I’ll translate for you…
I spent the next 5 minutes translating between UK and this local.
We’re not getting anywhere, they’re just getting a feel for one another.
We finally come to the conclusion that yes, this local can score some blow and is willing to deal.
Throwing out prices back and forth we reach a middle ground.
Now we need a cell phone. The local doesn’t have one, so we spend another few minutes trying to borrow a random one to make the call to his friend.
Keep in mind that the concert is raging in the background with lights bouncing around everywhere and Marseille is lost in the movement. We end up finding him the next day passed out in a hammock.
The local makes a quick call then hands back the phone.
“Okay, here’s the deal. My friend is coming in 10 minutes. In 10 minutes he’ll be coming around that corner (points across the park) in a maroon taxi with the license plate, XXX-XXX. The exchange will be quick. We hop in, you give us the cash, we give you the coke, we hop out. Got it?”
Starting to sound sketchy but I’m committed to the fiasco by now.
We have 10 minutes to kill so we up buy some hot dogs and a coca-cola while we talk about life on the curb by the corner.
Hot dogs and coca-cola… the best way to cool down before a drug exchange haha
As we’re sitting there, the place is still alive. The park and streets are filled with people. Taxis line the sidewalks waiting for people to ask for a ride home. Local police stand on the corners making sure nothing gets out of hand. (that was my biggest concern, acting cool in front of law enforcement and hoping nothing went wrong) oh man…
Finally the time is getting close and we finish up our hot dogs and stand and wait.
I’m talking to UK when the local shouts, “Right there, it’s the cab, get in get in, we have to move fast”
My heart starts racing.
UK and myself hop in the back as the local hops in the front.
As soon as the door closes the cab speeds off and the locals start talking and negotiating about what the deal is going to be.
My heart starts beating faster as the cab speeds up and down streets. How crazy is this!
The guys try to jip us and for more cash than what we agreed upon.
UK guy gets pissed and it turns into a shouting fest. They’re arguing with each other, I’m trying to translate it all, the driver keeps chiming in.
We finally get back to where we started.
They want the cash. I make the motion to grab the cash from UK and make the exchange. He pulls away, “Not until I try the product”.
I tell the guys this and they laugh. “You’re not in a place to argue about this. Trust us. Give us the cash or we won’t make the deal.”
UK is stubborn and folds his arms as I’m translating for him. He tells them he knows what good cocaine is and he isn’t going to get swindled by some assholes just because he’s not from the area.
I start freaking out in my head at this point.
I’m in a country with nobody I know. My friends and family just know that I’m backpacking in Central America. I’m the translator playing the role of a dick for a guy I just met from the UK and I’m negotiating with drug dealers.
The guys start laughing, “he’s got balls, fine fine, try this and you’ll see we weren’t lying to you.”
A small baggy with white powder appears.
As we’re driving in and out of alleys and streets the local in the front passenger seat lines up a line for himself and the driver, then passes the baggie to UK.
UK takes some, rubs it around his gums, tastes it then does a small bump himself.
Meanwhile I’m just watching, I had never been anywhere near this stuff in my life.
UK approves and like that, they all become friends.
UK hands over the cash. Immediately the taxi takes a quick turn into a narrow alleyway then slows down.
The driver sticks the cash out of the window.
Out of nowhere some random guy on a bicycle rides by taking the cash while simultaneously throwing in a baggie then peddles away into the darkness.
Again, we speed off. The baggie had 16 smaller bags of blow inside. 12 of which are apparently UK’s.
They ask us where we’re staying then a minute later we get dropped off at the front door to our hostel as they drive off back in the direction of the concert.
At this point UK is focused on his purchase and I’m just standing there thinking to myself, “What the hell just happened...”
That’s where I’m leaving the story for you guys.
I’m curious to what you guys think happened next though…
Did we walk back for the rest of the concert at the park? Did we stay at the hostel? Did the night continue for the adventures of Pablo and UK? The big question… do you think I joined UK and ended up partaking for the first time in my life?
“Tune in next time for the curious and wild adventures of Pablo” Zorro mask on, cape flapping in the wind, standing on top of the world… ;)