Too far

Kolumbia (15)

Like water, the world flows through you, and for some time it lends you its colors. Then it goes back and again leaves you alone with all emptiness you carry. Nicolas Bouvier

Each day is just the waiting until the advent of the night, and each night is just the waiting until the advent of the day. Playing with the cats prevents me from getting nuts. Sandra and her father Javier, owners of the house where I’m staying for a week, said that I shouldn’t touch these cats, because they are wild, they scratch and I can catch rabies or some other nasty stuff.

Maybe they are right, but because there is no one around to whom I could speak up and salamanders poorly respond to my accosting (as well as big, flying insects, which come into the room through absolutely invisible holes – but just in case they get swatting at their heads and, on a scoop, return to the garden), so the cats seemed to me an excellent material for having fun, and for being able to unbosom myself – you can speak to them, run after them, play hide and seek, simply look at them.

I was even able to catch the black one and stroke him for a minute. No longer, cause the black stabbed his teeth in my arm, so the petting was over – apparently, I am out of practice in providing pleasure and now I will have to learn this art again. As fate will allow, maybe not necessarily on cats.

So, there are cats in the house. At first I thought there were eight of them, then, that seven, but eventually I counted nine, including two coming most likely from another mother. Well, two red cats. One looks like a female, I do not know, she’s got something in her eyes, I’m pretty sure it’s a woman. I could not look at the part which would dispel any doubts, cause this particular redhead is the most timid of all, but believe me – she’s got a sort of female eyes, so it must be that sex.

Although I’m still not in good health, I’m smiling to the world, waving to flashing by redcats, warding off relentlessly biting mosquitoes – Colombian masters of camouflage, which fly at a speed of a hummingbird and change their trajectories so quickly that if I am able to grab one, I almost fall out of a hammock with sheer happiness. And then I smile again, even though my head hurts, mosquitos bite, cats do not want to be touched, and there is no one to whom you could tell your yesterday’s dream.

But never mind. I’ve already decided. Rocking in a hammock, looking at the wall, where salamanders were performing their mating dance, I decided that whatever is going to happen, I will smile. Even if I do not feel better and will have to return home, because, unfortunately, it looks like that. That I will come back. But maybe not. Maybe in two or three days a miracle will happen, and antibiotic will start working and I will feel better, and there will be the road again, the horizon and only warm thoughts. Because at the moment everything seems to be too far. The house is too far, the destination is too far, but it’s getting closer to a peaceful mind, in which there is the road, and there is the horiozon, and there is no need to run for any cats, and certainly not for any red ones. Red is nasty, my grandmother used to say, even though she had a red-haired husband.

I finish my dinner, swallow pills and go out to the garden to get some fresh air, which, through my clogged sinuses, I still can’t feel. And then I go into the garden to look for a black cat, maybe he will allow me to cuddle him once again, even for a minute.

How pleasant it is to be a wild strawberry


Maybe a man is the sun for himself, but, like the sun, engulfs only half of his land, throwing on the rest of it an eternal shadow of uncertainty and doubt. And he doesn’t even want to guess or suspect that even there, in this eternal shade, there he is, himself. Wieslaw Myśliwski Palace 

For a week, at ten o’clock sharp, I have come for breakfast to a restaurant called Lolita, which is situated just beneath my hotel room. Some immensely friendly, corpulent ladies, whose head is crowned with white bonnets work there. I am called cariño, and it really escaped my notice, since when I was started to be named like that. Perhaps it happened last Saturday, when I stayed on the narrow sidewalk, caught a smile, and following a friendly, inviting hand movement, hesitantly walked through the wide entrance, which is also a huge window to a busy street life.

At this time of the day the restaurant is usually empty. It fills up until the early afternoon. I eat rice with sausage, fried bananas, eggs, arepa (a bread, made of ground maize dough), drink coffee and a glass of agua de panela – a drink made from panelas (unrefined cane sugar) and lime juice. Such a meal costs here the equivalent of about two American dollars.

After breakfast I go back to bed, and at six p.m. I return to have dinner. I eat soup with potatoes, beans, corn and meat. For the second course there is a huge serving of rice, or potatoes, meat, salad, coffee and a pint of agua de panela. The whole meal also costs here equivalent of two American dollars. Before midnight I prepare myself one meal more, just before swallowing another antibiotic. Fifth within the last three months. I got a huge dose of Clindamycyn, which I am to enjoy for at least two weeks. The antibiotic was prescribed remotely from Poland, and there was no problem whatsoever to buy it here, because it turned out that in Colombia they can be purchased over the counter (or, it might well have been just my swollen face and feverish sight that helped).

Here are a few facts: Since mid-June I’ve been cycling with sinusitis. Perhaps I got some complications, it is difficult to say. It’s not like I’m an idiot, I’m going crazy and I do not want to recover. I want to. But no one here takes me seriously. I mean, what should I do in a situation when I go to hospital and say that I do not feel well, and describe all bad symptoms I have, just to hear at the end of the visit: If you were able to cycled seventy miles by bike today, and you don’t have a very high fever, so, probably nothing really happens, you seem to be quite well, but just in case, let me protectively prescribe you some antibiotics.

I tried to heal, I took the pills, but when on my question if I am able to continue the journey, somebody answers: If you feel well enough to keep cycling, you may go, then the same day I get on the bike again and I go on. Perhaps it is irresponsible, maybe stupid, but I am like that and it’s a part of me. I usually go, as long as the body does not rebel completely and says: stop. And so the body rebelled last week, as I wrote, and this time help came from Poland. Remotely. I’ll try one more time. If this antibiotic does not work, I won’t go further. I’ve had enough.

Today, I’m moving out of the town to a village Palmar, to an empty house belonging to one of the cooking ladies. I still have hope that I won’t have to come back. Apart from lizards on the walls and birds in the trees, no one lives there. Twenty-four hours alone with my own thoughts. There will be silence and darkness. The hotel walls are thin, don’t quash omnipresent love elation. In the morning, light wakes me up invariably.

The city is never really quiet or really dark. Even at night, and even behind closed eyes. Once I could not sleep. I closed my eyes and waved my hand in front of the face. I clearly saw a movement. Blackness on the background of blackness. Then I covered my eyes tightly with my left hand and I waved again with the right one. The mind knew that I was moving my hand, and again, it created a sense of movement, even that then I could not really see anything. Michal Cichy

When I am no longer be able to bear my own thoughts, I’ll go into the garden to look for some wild strawberries. I’ll look under the wide leaves, under flourishing, mushrooming shrubs, I’ll come among flower beds, furrows, and colorful flowers. I’ll go to look for them, knowing, that I won’t find them there. I’ll crouch over the pond, look in the water and smile to a foreign, motionless face. When I touch it, it will whirl with wrinkles, expand unnaturally, contort strangely, disappears. And when it completely vanishes, I’ll close my eyes, lay down and disperse. I will turn into a red, ripe, wild strawberry. Maybe someone will be passing by and help themselves.