The bus to Barranquilla was only a couple of hours long but the quick dip in the pool and the three home-made chorizo sarnies did nothing to help my hangover and I still felt rancid on the bus. My stomach craved something, it wasn't the flat and warm cola I had, and I thought it might be an orange but that did nothing to help either. The back seat was free so I thought if I lay down and had forty winks that might help but I found each of the end seats were rather damp from the air conditioner leaking at each end. I think what helped cure my hangover was realising I'd left my towel and swim shorts out to dry at the previous hostel, this causing me to forget the aftermath of the night and turn this into anger for me being so stupid. What also probably helped were the floods we were driving through. I was amazed I'd only seen things like this on TV but because of the storm that afternoon and pretty much lasted all day we were driving through shin deep waters. Although the shin deep waters were exciting, it had me concerned, there was only one reason we were in Barranquilla and that was for a game of football and I had major concerns that the game would be postponed. This was the least of my worries at the moment as the driver kept asking me questions simple questions like name, where are you staying that sort of paraphernalia, however with my hangover and state of mind I would have struggled to tell anyone what one plus one was. I was half like an alcoholic in a coma and half like a kid amazed at all the water, luckily on the bus was another backer, a German girl named Maria who was switched on, obviously not had a big night the night before, spoke extremely good Spanish and managed to get us to The Meeting Place hostel in one piece.
I was back fully in the game after a left over chorizo sarnie and a cold shower. I was also assured by the hostel owner that the game would still be on so we were all set. The rain was still falling heavily as we got the taxi across the other end of town to Estadio Metropolitano Roberto Melendez to watch the mid table clash of Junior vs Atletico Nacional. The taxi driver and his father were most helpful as they directed us to where we purchased the tickets and claimed our free chocolate nutty snack. Although we were sat in the junior end my affiliation was towards the away team. My fondness of the Medellin based team, is similar to how I became a fan of Essendon in the AFL, in the fact that I spoke to some locals and they advised me who to support. And much like my barracking for Essendon my meeting of the locals didn't come from their native country. I met Frank and Karen in Hoi An whilst Earl was getting a suit fitted and they had recommended things to do in Australia and one was go and see and support an Essendon AFL game. I met Alejandra during the madness of the World Cup in Brazil and she told me she supported National and when I was in Colombia I should go to a game, so there it was an allegiance was born. If there wasn't I could have made a strong case for Junior being my favoured Colombian Soccer side as in the first half they played with much pace and threat going forward, unfortunately they couldn't take their chances and National capitalised on an error from a corner to take the lead. Junior's fans were also most impressive, we were sat right next to them and they were singing and dancing all through the game. My experience of South American football has taught me though that the atmosphere at games tends to be awesome but the standard of football is pretty shocking and this opinion was further enforced in the second half with a dyer display of the beautiful game. I had managed to convince Earl to come to this game, his first game with me since the England world cup game and this game did nothing to sell him football, in fact after that second half we witnessed he will probably never go to another game again. As you can probably imagine after my previous few sentences nothing happened in the second half and National comfortably held on their one zip lead to take all three points, the most exciting part of the game was spotting the stray dog roaming the stands and of course the cheerleaders who were prancing about pitch side. There was one other problem with this game and that was that I assumed Earl would take his phone and he assumed I had mine but both of us left our phones back at the hostel to charge, with the ticket being a credit card type swipe thing which we had to hand in I had no proof of being at the game. My eyes scanned the crowd for people with smart phones my plan was to ask for a photo and ask them to send it me, I bottled that plan after failing to find the courage to speak to any of my targets. Sometimes, not often, but sometimes I find that things would be easier speaking Spanish I would have been able to communicate my situation no bother but in this instance neither myself or Earl knew how to say 'Mate, we have been a bit silly and left our camera's at home would you be a sport and take a photo of us and send it me or put it on Facebook, cheers pal.' What I did instead was a selfie sketch, it was somewhat realistic, as you can tell from the blog cover photo my hand seems like it was hit by a hammer and it looks like I was in the third or fourth tier when I was actually only about twenty-five rows up but all in all it was a decent effort and most importantly a memory of the occasion.
As I alluded to at the end of my last blog Barranquilla is home to Colombia's most famous pop artist -Shakira Isabel Mebarak Ripoll, or most commonly just Shakira. So truth be told I wasn't there only for the football but to see the conveniently place Shakira statue outside of the stadium. So after the full time whistle we set about finding the memorial to the Colombian queen of pop. We found it, and it has to be said it is less than impressive so we didn't really mind we didn't have our cameras, it was 2D and in the dark could easily be missed so we set about going home which also proved rather challenging seen as though we had left without getting the hostels address. After walking a short way in the storm we found one of many taxi drivers who had never heard of our hostel nor spoke English, he did want to help us though he said he had a brother who spoke English so after several failed calls we turned up at his house but nobody was in, on our way to find more help I think he said he was going to ask the police Earl spotted an Internet café and we got the address and went on our way. I'd say we'd use this as a learning curve but we did the same daft thing in Armenia. Back out of the storm we walked into our now candle lit hostel, they were either having a religious ceremony or there was a black out, it was the former and all power was out. It was now I realised that I could not have coped back in the day this was evident as when making a tuna sandwich I managed to spill most of a litre bag of milk, but there was no use crying over it I had bigger issues to deal with I had nothing to do without electricity, no phone, no internet, no laptop, I read a bit of a book with Earl's torch but then decided I may as well just sleep, that didn't last long, maybe two hours as I was woken at around 2am with the return of electricity and the fans swirling, I got back to sleep for another hour at round 7am. I can't explain why I couldn't sleep perhaps it was the heat, the endless amounts of Mozzies or a mixture of both who knows. Earl awoke at 9 after a more favourable sleep in his Mozzie net and as soon as we were ready we were off on our Usain Bolt like tour of Colombia and heading in the direction of Cartagena.
So until next time stay safe and take care