In Colombia, I am a giant – at 6’1.
Until last Saturday, I thought I was probably the tallest girl in the country.
But the beauty who walked past my friend and I, as we stood huddled outside a nightclub, dwarfed me by at least four inches.
“How tall is that girl?” my friend spluttered, as the girl waltzed past us in a short blue dress and matching blue flats.
“Sssh, don’t stare,” I giggled as I stared at the girl and tried to calculate exactly how tall she was.
We were in Villavicencio, staying at the home of a Colombian friend, Julian, whose parents have a house in the town.
It takes two hours to reach the place from Bogotá, via a small minibus that hurtles down through the mountains.
Consequently Villavicencio is a lot hotter than the capital and its warm, relaxing climate instantly puts you at ease.
But really, we were mostly there to visit Los Capachos – the famous multi-roomed superclub that draws hundreds of revellers across from Bogotá every weekend.
The 10 of us had even splashed out on a VIP booth, ordering bottles of aguardiente – a highly dangerous Colombian spirit that arrived in silver ice buckets.
Eventually, as expected, our dancing became too raucous for a single booth, so I grabbed my tall American friend, Karina and motioned towards the dance floor.
We were forcing our way through a wall of sweaty bodies when I felt a sharp tug on my elbow.
It was the girl in the blue dress.
Through the haze I noticed that, even sitting down, she was almost as tall as the Colombian men surrounding her.
“I have a question for you,” she smiled.
I could not believe this girl was about to ask how tall I was.
“Where are you from?” she continued.
I smiled and gave a quick introduction, but the entire time I was ordering myself not to ask the one question I loathe.
“How tall are you?” I stammered eventually, hating myself.
The girl rolled her eyes.
“About 1.85m,” she shrugged.
“That’s not possible,” I continued, descending into self-loathing but curious all the same.
“I’m 1.85m and you’re a lot taller than me. Maybe 1.94m?”
The girl shrugged again. I felt terrible.
“Come and dance with us,” I asked, apologetically.
The girl agreed and we danced away happily for several minutes, three Amazonian heads rising high above the crowd.
“I love foreign people,” the girl confided.
“Everyone always stares at me, because I’m so tall – but it’s just because I’m from Colombia.
“I always say to them, God, haven’t you travelled? Everyone is this tall in Europe.”
I didn’t have the heart to correct the girl so I smiled and automatically stood on the tip of my toes.
(It turns out I actually like being the tallest girl in the room and it feel strange when I’m not)
The girl seemed amused by my antics.
“I never wear heels, never ever,” she giggled.
“Why not?” I snapped indignantly.
“Heels are gorgeous and you’re tall anyway, what have you got to lose?”
We continued dancing and took several pictures of ourselves before the girl frowned at the spectacle we were becoming.
“Everyone in here is staring at me,” she complained.
“My friends and I are going to another club, why don’t you join us? I can get you in for free?”
I politely declined.
“Don’t worry about them. If they’re staring at you because you’re tall, they’re idiots,” I replied.
The girl laughed again.
“They’re staring at me because they know who I am,” she shrugged.
“I used to be the Queen,”
I momentarily stopped dancing.
“Now, you have drunk a lot of aguardiente,” my surprised inner voice slurred in my ear.
“But the brain cells you have left held a quick meeting and we’ve confirmed that you still live in a republic.”
The girl noticed my dazed expression and laughed again.
“I’m sorry, it’s my English,” she explained.
“I mean, I used to be Miss Colombia.”