Today was a seriously shitty day.
Okay, so not that shitty in the context of the world’s real problems; merely shitty within my own personal spectrum.
I had to pay 600,000 pesos in tuition fees to the university which, unhelpfully, is my daily withdrawal limit.
I was completely out of cash – it is two days before pay day – but, having withdrawn the fee last night, I assumed I could withdraw the money I needed to live today.
I completely forgot the UK is six hours ahead which means 6.30pm last night in Colombia was actually today in the gloriously ordered world of my bank.
(If you are struggling to follow this, I sympathise. All you need to know is; when I tried to withdraw more money today, my bank interpreted that as me trying to exceed my withdrawal limit – and consequently blocked my card)
But I was unaware of my own impending financial doom when I waltzed off to my new campus and gleefully entered the world of beer-stained textbooks and left-wing protests.
The day didn’t get shitty until 11.43am when the heavens opened – as they do every day at that time in Bogotá and will continue to do until the rainy season ends in January.
I had nothing left but my lunch money, so I ignored all the enterprising gentlemen selling umbrellas on the street and ‘bravely’ marched for 20 minutes to my lesson.
(At one point I passed a nun sheltering in a doorway. I think she said something sympathetic. I’m ashamed to say the words ‘This is your fecking God’s fault…’ crossed my mind)
It was a storm to end them all. There was ferocious lightning and thunder so loud it activated several car alarms.
I almost swam across two streets and when I arrived at the posh office building, a river was running down my back.
A hasty ten minutes under the hand dryer in the toilets did nothing to alleviate my sodden state.
I taught my lesson with a smile plastered across my face while everyone pretended I didn’t smell like a stagnant pond.
An hour later I taught another lesson – still damp – and then I sat and waited for the clock to reach 6pm, under the false impression I would be able to withdraw some money.
This time, when the cash point cheerily stamped ‘REJECT’ across my forehead, I couldn’t even afford the bus ride home.
No-one was in the house either, so I couldn’t take a cab.
I was essentially screwed.
So I did what any smart person would do in a desperate situation and called the most gorgeous Texan I know.
An hour later, my friend Eric crept behind me and pretended to be a pick pocket. Unfortunately, I spun around and smacked him, which must have been quite a greeting.
“You sounded like you were having a bad day,” he grinned, trying his hardest not to wince.
“I brought you some chocolate. Also, how much money do you need to get you through the next few days?”
God bless America.
Still, I didn’t want to borrow too much so, despite my damp and miserable state, I decided I couldn’t justify a taxi.
Instead I hailed a bus and prayed it wouldn’t be full.
God was listening (despite the nun incident) because, when I climbed aboard, the bus was completely empty.
“Where are you going?” the bus driver asked.
“68th Street,” I said, flinging myself into the front seat.
“I’m not going there. But you can get off in 15th Avenue and get another bus to 68th Street,” he replied.
“I only have money for one bus,” I replied dejectedly.
“No problem, I’ll get another one.”
“No, no, take it easy,” the driver replied soothingly.
(He actually used the word ‘tranquila’ which is one of the nicest words in the Spanish language)
“Just stay where you are.”
And that is how I was given a free lift in a bus.
In fact, the driver took me all the way to 19th Avenue (the easiest place in the world for me to get the correct bus)
He even scolded me when I tried to disembark at some traffic lights and insisted on dropping me further down the street.
And he wouldn’t accept a penny.
The kindness of people in this city – both random Colombians and my friends – never fails to astound me.
So, Bogotá, I’m going to make a deal with you.
You can rain and storm every single day; drench me to the skin, force me to swim across your streets and ruin every pair of ballet pumps I own.
You can alarm my bank, mess with my sense of international timekeeping and seduce me into making the sort of stupid mistakes that leave me with less than 20p to my name.
Heck, you can do whatever you damn well like.
Just keep those buses running.