Back in Police Headquarters

Trip Start Feb 26, 2010
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Trip End Feb 26, 2011


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Where I stayed
Sue Hostal

Flag of Colombia  ,
Sunday, February 13, 2011

We got up and it was absolutely chucking it down again. We had a quick walk around the hostel and the district trying to sell our South America Lonely Planets before giving up and heading into the central tourist area, museums and government buildings. There were lots of people everywhere but more noticably were the huge numbers of police and army everywhere armed to the teeth, needless to say it didnt stop me walking straight through some of the lines to take a few snaps, before being told off. I think the military and police give tourists the no one priority status in Colombia, after the government of course, they make you feel very welcome and very safe. We walked around the Presidential Palace, and government buildings, cathedrals and churches (a lot had mass on the go as it was Sunday), before deciding on doing the police museum as a change over art and things. We struggled to find it however a helpful man with an AK47 showed us the way. We were greeted on the steps by a Military police man, we both wanted to run off when he started asking where we were from and other questions, we were then introduced to a normal policeman who greeted us a little warmer and showed us to a waiting room, before fining another policeman who said he spoke better English, "we just want to see the museum" we felt like saying. It turns out you arent allowed around the building without a guide, who is a serving police officer, in full uniform. You realise how much your appearance has sunk when your trousers are practically around your knees, trousers tucked into socks as they are all ripped and trainers that are filthy and stink.... and then you stand next to man in pristine uniform and the shiny shoes.

He was a really nice guy and explained this was the police headquarters until about 10 years ago. The building was very elegant and housed lots of police memorabilia from all over the world, including the UK. He kept asking which of the UK stuff was still in use, among my light hearted jokes were the admission I hadnt been arrested for a while, mainly because I had been out of the country... and that he could be the head of the police in ten years, I think they got a little lost in translation, he said that he was merely a low level police officer and just wanted to serve. We had a lot of interesting discussions, he seemed amazed that the UK needed CCTV and thought it crazy we had it everywhere, when he started asking about crime at home I concluded in a PC term that even Salford was probably a little quiter than Bogata on the crime front, indeed he concluded, Bogota is crazy, there is such crazy stuff going on all the time that we are very busy, perhaps Manchester is quiet in comparison, not wanting to do down Salfords reputation as a drug dealing, thieving, car jacking (shouldnt joke about that as Sharon was car jacked in Salford) and violent crime capital of the UK but it is probably very quiet in comparison to Bogota. In terms of our other discussions, the guy needed a detailed description of just how good looking the chicas were in Medellin, everyone is obsessed about the women of Medellin it seems.

As we left the grandeur of police headquarters the heavens opened again and it wasnt long before the thunder and lightening were back in full force. As we ran through the streets you can get a picture of how heavy the rain was when I say we got stranded on a block, we took shelter in a doorway and in minutes the water was over kerb level meaning we couldnt cross any roads, they had become rivers, with Bogata being in blocks we were literarly stranded unable to cross to another block, it took about 40 minutes for the water to receed when we could jump over the narrower stream, old women had just given in and were walking ankle deep through the water detroying their shoes.

We ended up stopping at a bar not too far away from the hostel to let our shoes drain and try and dry off a little, it was a small corner bar and we just sat in the window watching the world go by. At one point we attracted the attention of a local wierdo, he wasnt all there and came into the bar asking for a little change, his legs were swelled to a huge size, and he had an open wound in the back of one of his legs, and what I suspect was gangrene had taken over his legs, his face was filthy and he was missing most of his teeth, after refusing to give in to his begging he got a little bit aggro and the owner nearly had to use full force to get him out, he did eventually leave shouting abuse at us and the owner, this did however give us front row seats to watch him chasing gringos around the streets and not letting go of them until they paid up. We ended up having another Mongolian Barbeque as it seemed that on a Sunday night there is only a limited choice of places to go. We managed an earlyish night as we had to be up at 4ish to finally leave South America and on to another new Continent.
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