Not your average travel blog
Frankly, the shopping mall is not exactly my first location choice when I have only €6 and one large coffee to last several hours. It may have been entertaining to see what mischief I could have found for a day, but with a heavy, life-containing back pack and a recent lack of wifi, I had work to do (despite the jolly you think I might be on, keeping this blog without a plug socket, internet or even a decent phone signal is harder than you might think). I hadn’t been in a shopping mall since Ohio and I feared the bright lights, the noise of the cash registers and the hustle of the crowds. I sat down in the metropolis of Broomfield CO and worked my thumbs like never before to bring you the radio4-style updates of my journey.
It was recommended that I spend some time in Boulder. It is a tourist hot spot, a flip flop wearing, Thai latte drinking, wheat grass dieting, luxury, healthy town that is wonderful if you’re on holiday with a few thousand to spend and some arranged adventures to the mountains. It’s full of tanned, beach lovers (I never found a beach though), the restaurant scene, the music and the feel good vibe is generally all around, with plenty of attractive people enjoying a drink. Something bothered me.
On the surface, the city has every intention to be the coolest and cleanest in Colorado, and be a genuinely warm and “welcoming” place so close to the beautiful peaks. However, it seems to have lunged a little too far, splitting a rip in its fabric en route. While wearing their yoga pants, everyone is hell bent on “doing the right thing” for their body, their soul, for the cleanliness of the streets and the image of the area, that to outsiders it appears a healthy idilic, but lost somewhere amongst their efforts, have they forgotten to actually be a heart-warming community. Seasonally, a lot of people here are either tourists, outdoor enthusiasts or old school, now wealthy hippies living a lavish lifestyle. Even though I met some wonderful individuals, the collective of the city seemed rather superficial, with a fairly transient soul. It merely lacked a draw or a pull that you get when you dive into some home cooked food.
I had been thrown the digits of Carlos. A Colombian American, soon to be returning to Boulder. He invited me to Couchsurf at his new pad for as long as required while he was in town on business. We first met at 11.30pm in the Yellow Deli. I didn’t buy anything and used the now slightly overused “I’m just waiting for a friend before I order” line. Carlos turned up and we instantly walked a mile or so to his temporary home.
Suited and booted, Carlos went to work the next morning and I helped myself to a shower. I was busy soaping myself and reminiscing over how much we take the simple things in life for granted, when there was a knock at the apartment door. I contemplated answering, but as I was naked and not in my home, decided to ignore it. I wandered in a rather small towel into the presumed empty lounge, en route to my clothes, and was boldly met by a rather determined man in a very crisp shirt and tie. He looked like a young american newsreader, the orange-type that had just walked onto set after being in make up, and with teeth that would probably have lit up the room if I had dimmed the lights. Clearly no burglar (and no need for a torch), he had just let himself in without breaking anything; oddly, standing in a little more than a loin cloth, I said “welcome! How can I help you?”
Handing me a card he informed me that Carlos was living there illegally and that I would have to leave too. I nodded politely and asked if I could put some pants on first. He wasn’t keen on my humour.
After a short interlude, I explained that Carlos must be unaware of his predicament, but this tall Oompa Lumpa was adamant, we had to leave, swiftly.
It quickly became clear that Carlos had been the victim of a rather unfortunate scam to rent empty accommodation. A father, of a student who had vacated the house for the summer, was trying to save a few dollars. I called my unfortunate new friend and explained his predicament. Carlos and I quickly came up with a solution – it had just gone 11am and it was in liquid form.
As we mulled things over, a quick refreshment turned into a late evening, with nearly everyone who came to the bar, buying us a drink. Carlos also has a pending bank statement that details how many margaritas he bought. It’ll be a long read.
He struck me as a slightly wiry character, as adventurous as me but with commitments to his business. I have done well to remember two things on my adventure 1) never judge a person on appearance or on first impressions and 2) the best way to get to know someone is to drink too many margaritas together and try not to worry about being homeless in the process..
Assuming that we were some kind of party, we made “friends” with everyone who invaded our space (at the bar). We even caught the eye of a silver haired black man wearing the cleanest white shirt I have ever seen (clearly Boulder was a place to wear crisp shirts). On “holiday”, staying with one of his many lady friends around the country (so he told us), he was interested in doing some business in Boulder. He informed me that his business was cocaine and “this and that”. Intrigued and only slightly inebriated, I took my line of questioning down the only reasonable route. I enquired where drug dealers spent their holidays. Remaining a mystery, he informed me that he never left the country and unsurprisingly, some new “friends” don’t like it when you ask them for a selfie together..
I had a back pack and a tent and could simply walk out of town, but as I had met the bronzed-agent in little more than a loin cloth, and I was the barer of bad news; I felt an urge to help my new friend.
Within a few hours, Carlos had a few leads for somewhere to move to.
I am often reminded that the difference between an ordeal and an adventure, is simply attitude.
I am also reminded often, that it is amazing what I have managed to do on just $6 a day, and the further I go, the larger my beard is getting..