So, overall I cannot recommend Armenia, the city in Colombia, as a tourism destination. The city center is dilapidated, dirty, and with few redeeming qualities.
This could of course be influenced by me arriving through afternoon traffic, park the bike at a makeshift parking lot at the town square only to get hit with a torrential downpour the second I take my first step onto the sidewalk.
I rushed to the corner and quickly ducked into a small cafeteria, shaking off the water from my windbreaker as I looked for a place to sit. There was a small table with two chairs near the serving bar. I took a seat and ask the lady behind the counter for one of the bread rolls behind the glass and a coffee – a “tinto”.
While I was waiting for my order, the place got crowded as people were getting out of the rain. The next thing I knew, I was sitting among a cross-section of Armenia’s society.
Next to me a couple of fellows from the phone company grabbed the table, but the third chair didn’t stay empty for long. A tall very thin lady rushed in, grabbed the chair and started going off on a rampage about how the government was entirely corrupt and in bed with the FARC. “They are all terrorists!” It was all part of ploy to mis-use “our taxes” – although I doubt she had paid her fair share in quite some time. Her volume was quite loud, loud enough to be heard over the downpour, she kept going on about how Santos, the current president, and Alvaro Uribe, the previous president are in cahoots together and making money had over fist. If you know anything about Colombian history and politics you’d know that this lady was completely off her rocker.
Then as if on a cue while the crazy emaciated lady took a breath from her rant, a dark, dirty, and quite smelly man who I could only assume was homeless walks in and right behind him is a small heard of dogs – I counted five in all. He grabbed a table and in almost perfect synchronicity the dogs plopped down beside him. The chap had not even gotten comfortable in his chair before the proprietor lady came up to him and asked “what he was going to order, otherwise you have to leave.” And just as quickly as he came in, he and his cadre of mutts were out the door and back into the rain.
At the far corner near the entryway was an old gentleman, probably in his late 70´s. I noticed he was there when I walked in. He was slightly hunched over, tending to his cup of coffee. Then, out of the rain two ladies came in and sat at his table, as if they knew the man they started chatting him up. As they removed their coats you could immediately tell that they were no ordinary ladies… but rather, ladies of the night.
The first, was in full regalia and ready for business. A short purple leather-like mini-dress and with so much make-up you could see Cover Girls stock shoot up. The second young lady, although you could tell she was also in the business, had been sidelined for quite some time. She was wearing short shorts, a tight t-shirt, but her hair was a mess, no make-up, and her hand was in a cast. I guess she must have been on worker’s comp.
As they sat there and were talking to the older gentleman, I came to realize how long it had in fact been since the second girl had worked. I noticed that she had a dolphin tattoo on her calf, but the odd thing was that the entire back of the dolphin had a shadow that simply looked out of place. On closer inspection, I realized that the tattoo didn’t have a shadow at all, but rather the dolphin had a harry back.
So, while I sat back and sipped my coffee, this is how I spent my afternoon in Armenia waiting for the rain to pass… watching life happen before me.