See the previous incidents:
I spent the first weekend of May in Medellin. As soon as I arrived at my hostel, barely an hour after landing, gringo tourists were pushing aguardiente in my face. I started drinking.
It was some cute gringa’s birthday. She was talking up a dance club to everybody in the hostel. I was wearing a nappy t-shirt and hadn’t showered since the flight, and I was broke. I wasn’t going anywhere. There was a Scandinavian couple at my table. They heard I wasn’t going. They also heard I live in Colombia. They mentioned cocaine. I said I could get it if they pay. They agreed.
Barrio Antioquia is the pure cocaine market in Medellin. I have a paisa taxi driver who takes care of these needs, but he wasn’t working that evening. I found a new taxi driver willing to take us. I told the Norwegian girl to buy five bags (half grams). If you’re going to the barrio at all, you might as well stock up.
She gave me money. We bought the shit in the barrio and were on our way back to Poblado. We started up a bridge and two motorcycle cops were standing in the street, watching cars pass. They saw my gringo ass seated up front and pulled us right over. I had one gram, which I barely had time to throw in my sock. The Finnish guy was able to throw three grams in his socks. The Norwegian girl was wearing heels, so she threw a gram under the seat.
The cops pulled us out and asked what we were doing coming out of the barrio.
One cop searched the car and quickly found the gram under the seat. They didn’t even bother searching our pockets. They had enough already. They asked who speaks Spanish. I didn’t say shit. I played dumb as long as I could, until they asked the taxi driver. Then I fessed up. I speak, I speak. They let the taxi driver go and turned their attention on me.
And the negotiation began.
My first times paying off cops, The Mick was there to do the deed. I used to worry about what to say, how to do it. Now I’ve seen it enough times to know. The Mick always says: “You have to play with them.” When he says ‘play’, he means a back-and-forth bullshitting session. Just bullshit and go with the flow.
It seems counterintuitive to a gringo who wants to get the job done. If a gringo’s going to bribe a cop, he just wants to know the price, pay, and go. But there’s a protocol that’s very necessary to the process. You have to play with them. I don’t even remember what we were talking about, but you go back and forth with the cops. You have to be cool and demonstrate you’re not afraid of going to jail if you have to.
In addition to being counterintuitive, I imagine the process is uncomfortable for gringos. Gringos want to know what’s going to happen. We’re less comfortable with ambiguity. These two Scandinavians were visibly scared.
The Norwegian girl came up and stood next to me during the negotiation and asked what was going on. I asked her how much money she had. She showed me her wallet, which had a 50 and a 10 (50,000 and 10,000 pesos, or $25 and $5).
I discreetly palmed the 50. She kept standing next to me. I told her to give me some space, and she went back to the curb with the Finnish guy, both of them shaking. I went back to bullshitting with the cops. I admitted that I was helping these two get cocaine. I said I never do this in Bogota.
I emphasized how scared the Scandinavians were. I said they were scared shitless and just wanted to go back to our hostel. I mentioned it’d be ideal if we could just take care of the infraction right here. Somewhere in all the playing I handed off the 50 to one of the cops.
The Scandinavians didn’t see the pass off. They were still scared when one of the cops took out the bag of cocaine and asked if they wanted it. They didn’t understand. I translated. Still scared, they thought it was a trick. They shook their heads in fear. After they both refused, I said I’ll take that shit! The cop gave me the bag of coke. Thank you!
Then the cop pulled out a big bag of weed, at least a half ounce. He asked if we wanted to buy it. I translated for the Scandinavians. They were still scared, and they still thought this was a trick. I offered the cop 10 for the bag (this would be the Norwegian girl’s last 10,000).
The cop looked insulted, implying 10 wasn’t enough. I said that’s all we got motherfucker (not in those exact words). We don’t want it then. The cop smiled and pulled a handful out and gave it to me. This was a gift. No charge. Free weed!
Then the cops hailed us a taxi, and we bid them farewell.
Stay in a luxury apartment in Medellin.
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