Reunited With Marilyn To Bail Out Of South America

My idea of Peru and the journey further south in the continent had not panned out. Instead I'd lost my nest egg, about two grand stolen from me while hitchhiking, and was turning back north to get things sorted.

Just prior to getting mugged I'd parted ways with Marilyn, the girl I'd been traveling with for nearly a solid year and intermittently bouncing around with for a year or so before that.

Now, suddenly, we'd be getting back together, if only for a short time. We were both now targeting Cartagena in the north. For me there would be a Florida bound flight, for her a new friend to trip around with.

I left the beach town by bus, eager to exit Peru. I knew I'd be back at some point, that Peru would make good in time, but for now I was happy to be getting gone.

By morning I was hopping out at the big bus station in Guayaquil, Ecuador with a long bus ride across the border behind me. After some waiting I spotted Marilyn who'd grabbed her bus from the coastal town where I'd left her only a week or so ago. A cup of coffee and we were rushing to a bus bound for the mountain town of BaƱos, beginning our final run together.

It was refreshing seeing her, now sitting next to me as we rolled north, one last short adventure together before carving our separate paths onward. We spent a few days in a budget hotel there, talking, renting bikes, seeing waterfalls, heading to a viewpoint with a big swing and generally falling back into each other for a bit.

We spent another day of bus travel getting right before the Colombian border to a spot we'd spent a night on the way down, then the following day journeyed up and to the border in the same manner.

There was a wait to get out of Ecuador, but after that we quickly got stamped back into Colombia and stuck out our thumbs on the other side.

A pickup truck gave us a lift to the next town where we waited, the same truck came around and got us as far as Pasto next.

We waited and walked a fair amount there, paused for a snack and then waited some more until darkness was getting near. At that point we decided on a the walk to the bus terminal to keep on moving, as a bus ticket would be nearly the same as pausing in a hostel or some such.

There were no tickets o Medellin, so we just got one that would drive through the night to Armenia, close enough.

We cruised through the night and by early morning Marilyn and I hopped out, prepared to hitchhike the rest of the way. We walked along the road aiming for a good spot to start. Across the street some teenagers hollered something in Spanish I didn't fully understand, but we kept on walking and got up the road a little ways to a place we could pause and try to catch the next ride.

The teenagers caught up to us, again trying to shout one thing or another. As they reached us they crossed the street to us, still jabbering along.

All at once one grabbed my shoulder and some other went for my backpack. Marilyn screamed and backed away quickly, I swung my pack as a strap ripped as it fell to the ground. I kept an eye on the kid with the pointy stick as I gathered my pack and bowled through the group towards Marilyn.

Even though there was a group of them I easily outmatched them, they were too disorganized to pose a real threat. Besides that there were plenty of other people on the street, even if just disinterested witnesses. They'd made their move and failed, but Marilyn and I still retreated back up the road some fifty yards to the bus stop.

"Looks like they've moved along, you wanna head back to the spot?", I asked her after the initial shock and assessment.

She looked at me like I was a maniac.

"I'm not hitchhiking again, not down here", she confirmed. Between her getting her phone stolen in plain sight a couple weeks ago, me getting mugged and now this, there was no point in discussing it further.

A local bus got us to the main bus terminal where we picked up a van to get us to Medellin. Once there we got the next ticket, a night bus heading to Cartagena. We walked around and sipped some beers in between all this, then rode the long bus that got us to Cartagena by morning.

We spent a few days and nights there in Cartagena before my flight, wandering around the walled city, looking out on the water and soaking up our last days together. Hostels in the city ranged from dirt cheap to quite expensive, we juggled through a different room each night, the nicest on the last night.

On the last night we met up with a traveling New Zealand girl we'd met at the coastal Ecuador hostel where Marilyn had been volunteering, this was the girl she was coming to meet and trip around with a bit.

One last sunset, one last round of drinks and one last night together in the room. Morning came and finally we'd be parting, again, but this time it would stick.

Marilyn walked a bit with me to the corner where I'd continue on to the airport, to Florida, to a month of hitchhiking up to New York to catch a flight to Berlin I'd bought a few nights earlier on a whim. She'd be keeping on in Colombia until she was over it, until the next adventure called.

One last kiss and another goodbye; this time felt better than when I'd left her in Ecuador a similar manner. We couldn't gracefully travel together any longer, not on this beat, but we couldn't deny each other either.

I marched forward through the streets, to the main road where I hitched a ride from a sympathetic cab driver willing to forgo his typical fare, then into the airport and soon on the plane. Up and away, away from the strange times in this first visit to South America, the land I'd dreamt of for so long. As strange has things had turned out, I wanted more. I'd gotten a taste for it, I'd be back, but for now it was on to the next adventure.

March 7, 2015 to March 17, 2015