(Download the PDF file for all five parts by clicking here.)
Karl said it was the Americans who ruined it for all gringos. “In the past two years there have been boatloads of Americans coming to Colombia to have sex with prostitutes. You can go on the internet and see it—sites devoted just to fucking them like which brothel to go to and who will let you do it in their butt without a condom. The families here know what’s going on and now they’re very hesitant to let their daughters date a gringo, because they think we’re all like the Americans. Are American girls that hard to fuck?”
“No actually I think they’re pretty easy,” I said.
“So why are millions of American men fucking prostitutes here and pretty much anywhere that’s poor?”
“Well you need game to have sex with American girls. It’s like a special key, and once you have it it’s somewhat automatic. Lots of guys never learn it or they’re old and fat and don’t care anymore.”
I had been in Colombia for only two weeks. The first ten days was in Bogotá and now I moved into a sort of gringo boarding house in Medellín. Most of the residents were single guys who were in Colombia either for sex or drugs. There were a few older men in their 40’s who would tell me about the prostitutes they were banging with such excitement that I think they expected me to give them a high five or a pat on the back.
Karl, who was Swedish, was staying in the room next to me. He was approaching a year in Medellín, well past the date on his entry stamp. “I’ll just pay a stupid fine,” he told me. He had blonde hair and baby blue eyes, a deadly combination in South America that would get his foot in the door more often than not. It didn’t matter that he was short and had to balance on his tippy toes to reach the top cabinet in the kitchen—girls were drawn to something their country could not produce. Unfortunately my complexion is the perfect shade of brown that allows me to fit in just about anywhere on the American side of the world, and unless I open my mouth girls think I’m a local. I’ll only stand out in Africa, Asia, or Iceland. Even Sweden, Karl told me, is stocked full of Turkish immigrants who work in döner kebab restaurants and look just like me.
My fifth night in Medellín was a Sunday. I finally got over a case of laryngitis and was ready to go out and flirt. I didn’t get much action in Bogotá so the pressure was building to get my Colombian flag out of the way before it became a big deal.
I asked Karl if there was a good place to go out on Sunday night. Two hours later we were in a cab on our way to a small hip-hop club called Karma. Sunday was their busiest night.
“I don’t want to spend a lot of money tonight,” Karl said as we got in line.
“Yeah neither do I.”
“You want to go in on a bottle of rum? It’ll be cheaper that way.”
“How much is it?
“48 thousand.” $24 dollars.
“Yeah sure.” I figured my half of the bottle would last me the entire night. We went inside and made our way to the bar. The club was packed.
From the few nights that I went out in Bogotá, it was clear that girls hang out in big groups of guys, and according to Karl it’s because they can’t afford their own drinks. They need to go out with someone who can buy them liquor.
“A lot of these guys are drug dealers so you have to be careful,” Karl said.
“What does that mean?”
“Just don’t talk to any girls with guys who look mean.”
“But all the girls here are with mean-looking guys.”
“Yeah that’s a problem in this place.”
In Colombian clubs there’d be several girls who would stare at me, but when I’d walk up to say hi a random guy would pop in from nowhere to listen to the conversation or butt in. Isolation was difficult. The guys were very protective of the girls and the only option I saw was to approach the guys first. Maybe compliment their ubiquitous graphic t-shirt or something.
The rum was sweet and the hip-hop music made it go down my throat easier. Even when the ice cubes in my glass melted I drank the rum straight, warm. It didn’t take long to finish my half of the bottle. I lost Karl at some point and later found him outside smoking a cigarette while texting on his phone. “Bro the girls are hot, but it’s hard to pick up here,” I said.
“Yeah you don’t pick up in the clubs—you pick them up on the internet and then you invite them with you to the club. Buy a bottle and have a good time.”
“Plus the guys… I don’t think they like me.”
“Yeah because you’re making them jealous. When a guy looks at you twice it’s because he caught his girl checking you out.”
“What happens if he looks at you three times?”
“That could be serious. Be careful because I almost got killed one time.”
“It was one night that I was so drunk.”
“Isn’t that every night?”
“No shutup.” He looked up from his phone and took a drag from his cigarette. “I talked to this girl who was with a big guy and even when he got in my face I kept talking to her. He wouldn’t go away and I said, ‘What are you going to do?’ He said he was going to take me outside and stab me in the neck. I said, ‘Let’s go bitch.'”
“I was really drunk.” He laughed and took another drag. “The bouncer saw what was going on though and pulled me out while the guy was yelling and pointing at me with his hand shaped like a gun. I waited outside 45 minutes for him to come out but he never did. I got into a cab and went home. What they do is call the sicarios—assassins—who live in the hills. They ride to the club in their cheap motorbikes and wait for you to get into a taxi. Then they follow you and when you stop at a red light they pull alongside the taxi and start shooting. And you’re done. Sometimes they give money to the taxi driver to help pay for the damage.”
Thing is Karl didn’t learn his lesson. When we went back inside the club he kept trying to talk to guys who obviously didn’t want to talk to him, and I had to keep pulling him away. The bouncer kept his eyes on us. I realized that Karl was the type of guy that could get me killed, without doing it on purpose of course.
I went to the bathroom and when I came back Karl had a fresh bottle of rum and was drinking straight from it. He could barely stand. The bouncer eventually had enough when he started talking shit to another guy and kicked us both out. Karl’s bottle had disappeared by then and I think someone stole it, since he told me never to leave bottles of booze laying around in a club.
On the cab ride back to the house my head started to spin. Both of us ended up puking.
CONTINUED: Part 2