1. Airports. I always found myself in airports. Whether it was to pick her up, her up, or her up, or adding to my collection of stamps in my worn, beat up passport; only a year into its life. I somehow always found myself in airports.
  2. ​Sitting in the airport waiting hall, I took out a yellow pad of paper and began writing about my trip. I gave up after a few scribbles about always being in airports. I vowed to keep writing during my trip, and if I was successful, one day I would turn it into a book.
  3. A woman on a loudspeaker announced last boarding call. Next stop Medellin.
  4. We’d never seen each other before, but for some reason, people like us can sniff each other out. We met eyes among the throng of backpackers standing between us. He smirked. I smirked. We shook hands without saying a word, and left the Black Sheep Hostel, getting into his Mercedes.
  5. Riding through the slums in that Mercedes made me feel like a king. Ruben yelled at people on the sidewalk for no apparent reason. He didn’t do it to show off; he just didn’t give a fuck about anything. He wasn’t scared of anyone. The inhabitants of the slums looked at him the way I did, with a look of shock. It was 11:00 at night when the weed began to make my eyes heavy. Ruben insisted we drink Aguerdiente, the official drink of Colombia. I declined, but promised him we would the next day. He took me back to the Black Sheep where I slept and dreamt of the adventure that lay ahead of me.
    1. Riding through the slums in that Mercedes made me feel like a king. Ruben yelled at people on the sidewalk for no apparent reason. He didn’t do it to show off; he just didn’t give a fuck about anything. He wasn’t scared of anyone. The inhabitants of the slums looked at him the way I did, with a look of shock.
    2. It was 11:00 at night when the weed began to make my eyes heavy. Ruben insisted we drink Aguerdiente, the official drink of Colombia. I declined, but promised him we would the next day. He took me back to the Black Sheep where I slept and dreamt of the adventure that lay ahead of me.
  6. After 15 minutes, we arrived in Zona Rosa. The neighborhood was unique in only one facet; a number of years ago some government officials thought they could stem prostitution by forcing it to one area. Prostitutes and criminals moved openly on the streets, causing the families and businesses there to move out—those who could afford to move out. The others were forced to stay and adapt in order to survive. Warehouses became brothels and hotels. Retail shops became sex shops, boys became girls, and guys like me became rich men. Ruben opened the car door for me.
    1. Warehouses became brothels and hotels. Retail shops became sex shops, boys became girls, and guys like me became rich men.
  7. Andres and I got to know each other. The Aguerdiente helped with the process. He told me he’d been a street racer in New York, and thatthat was his passion in life, until he’d gotten his driver’s license revoked for street racing. That’s when he had started, “Colombian Dreaming,” mimicking the Beach Boys California Dreaming. In Medellin, everything was cheaper, girls are cuter, and most of his family was down there already. He’d been living in Medellin for a year by the time we first met.
    1. Andres and I got to know each other. The Aguerdiente helped with the process.
  8. Andres pointed to his traditional homeboy Yankees cap. “New York baby, born and raised in Jamaica, Queens, but my parents are from Medellin, and my grandmother still lives down here.
  9. At first, he’d been driving taxis, and hustling pot. But, six months before I’d met him, he had gotten a job as an English teacher at an adult education center. His experience as an English teacher would end up being a great tool for our business, helping our employees develop their relationships with international clients.
  10. I took another swig of Aguerdiente, and the burn woke me up a little.
  11. Underneath the table, our legs began to touch. She asked me what my name was, and I told her, “Ben.” ”Ven.” A play on my name; Ben, insinuating cum, or, “Ven aqui.” Come here. Lina and her sister laughed. ”Yo estoy veniendo,” I am cumming, I said.
  12. Andres quoted a Snoop Dogg song, “It aint no fun, if the homeys can’t have none!”
  13. His comment reminded me of my hedonistic pursuits. Under my jacket, I felt the pinch of the blood test I knew I would have to take for my lack of responsibility with Lina.
  14. “It’s dark in these sunglasses.” I looked at Andres through my Ray Bans. With his deep Colombian tan, he seemed more like a shadow than a man sitting next to me.
  15. I liked Andres almost immediately. He wasn’t the type of guy I would have hung out with back home in the States, but at least there was some familiarity and shared cultural connection. He had spent a lot of time in Miami and knew it well, but I guess more than anything, it was nice to have someone to speak English with.
  16. “Dude, we have the best job in the world.” Andres said.  ”How did she fit three kids through there?” I asked.
  17. I suddenly realized that I was a foreigner in a dangerous business, in a place that within my lifetime, was considered the most violent city on the planet. I wondered how long we would have to stand there today to see a body float by. My feelings of fear and excitement didn’t last long, as Ruben who was on the phone with another landlord interrupted my thoughts. We had an appointment in a half hour in Envigado. We fought our way back through the brush and climbed into our cave of marijuana smoke and Shyne records. We cruised to Envigado.
    1. I suddenly realized that I was a foreigner in a dangerous business, in a place that within my lifetime, was considered the most violent city on the planet.
  18. I stammered as Andres and Ruben looked at me to finish my sentence. They didn’t understand how they messed up. I realized they were my soldiers; they would do whatever I told them to do. When you’re the boss, watch what you say. Especially, when you’re in Colombia and your employees believe in you.