I think I’m about three days behind schedule now; I really need to make up some time in the Caribbean. Don’t know how easy that is going to be, absolutely NOTHING has been arranged. I feel quite sick just thinking about it. There are hardly any ferry services in the Caribbean, cruise ships flat refuse to take on casual travellers and the chances of working my passage on a private yacht are probably less than 50:50. In short, I could be stuck in the Caribbean for quite some time.
If any of you know anyone who is in the Caribbean at the moment and has a boat (preferably a speed boat!) PLEASE let me know. It’s getting to the 11th hour here and I don’t want this whole thing to fall apart at the first hurdle. Thanks.
At the moment I’m on the bus to Bogotá. Colombia is beautiful, so green and mountainy and Romancing The Stone. The people are friendly as hell as well, offering me snacks and chatting to me a lot more than the folks from down south. Northerners eh? We rock.
There is still massive poverty here in Colombia though and a large portion of the country is not even under the control of the government as hard left and hard right paramilitaries rule the roost over vast swathes of the nation, and I’m going to give you three guesses how they fund their daft little insurgency. But on the bright side, Colombia is no longer the kidnap capital of the world – that honour has gone to Iraq.
In 1999, the US gave the Colombian government 3.3 billion dollars to institute ‘Plan Colombia’, a grand scheme that involves US planes spraying coca fields with Herbicide, with the intention of killing the cocaine trade at root, so to speak.
Idiots. A child could have pointed out that it wasn’t going to work, and saved the US taxpayer a fair old hunk of cash. Surprisingly(!), the gangsters who produce cocaine didn’t just up sticks from the $6,000,000,000 industry with which they had grown so fond, so when a farmer’s field was ruined by spraying, they would simply go and intimidate some other poor toothless farmer into growing stuff for them somewhere else – like in the delicate ecosystem of the Amazon rainforest.
So what’s the upshot of all this? Well, in the last ten years, there hasn’t been a single percentage drop in cocaine supply from Colombia to the US or Europe, but a lot of rainforest has been trashed. Well done America, next time you’ve got 3.3 billion dollars to waste, how’s about letting me shovel it into a burning well in front of a bunch of starving African AIDS orphans instead? It would be just as productive and much more fun.
I said it in the earlier blog: fair trade cocaine. It’s the only way out of this mess, and the only way Colombia is ever going to get its country’s lush green mountains back. Let’s hope admitted ex-cokehead Barack (replacing admitted ex-cokehead George W – weren’t the 80s great?) can see it in his wisdom to finally bring this ludicrous situation under control and make that unpopular but morally correct decision.
Right, I’m running out of batteries, so just time to say THANK YOU for all your messages of support and for the kind donations to WaterAid. It’s really giving me a lift to know that there are so many people who are willing me to succeed. Can’t wait to see you all again when I pass through the UK at the end of February – keep your diaries free!
Lots of you have been asking how you can get in touch with me on the road. The best way is via email to my yahoo account, or via the ‘Contact’ page, but if you want you can always send me a text on my usual number, but don’t ring it as I haven’t got enough credit.