Sunday, January 11, 2015

taxi ride

11/01/2015 10:56

On the way out of that party I had decided that, as I was in an unfamiliar part of the city, maybe I should take a mini-cab rather than wait for a night bus -didn't know what buses there were or where the bus stop was, in any case. I can't remember whether I called for the taxi or whether I hailed it on the street; in any case, I was now in the car and the driver started to talk non-stop, in English at first and then in Spanish. The journey was taking a long, long time and we were going through some rather bleak neighbourhood, with very poor housing and signs of dereliction everywhere. I asked him how far we were from Kentish Town. He replied 'Kentish-on-top-of-the-hill is very near, we're getting to the top of Cortijos de Lourdes'.'What?' I replied, 'this is not where I'm going, you have to go back, I need to go to Kentish Town not Petare!'. 'Sorry, mate, I will do; we need to stop here for a bit, though; it is a very friendly house and they'll like you'. I thought I was being kidnapped, of course. Out of the rather ramshackle house in question came some people including children. Still protesting, they led me into the house. How's London. Would I like some tea. The driver was still talking all the time but apparently just to himself. I noticed the loud green shirt he was wearing. The children asking me lots of questions. I took out my iPhone (or what was supposed to be an iPhone; it had keyboard including play-rewind keys) to see whether it could tell me where I was through GPS but it couldn't fix a signal. One of the kids produced a smaller, much battered version of the same device "I've got one of those..." said proudly. I still insisted, I needed to get home and out of here, the driver wasn't around any more. I asked where he was. 'He's at the children's pool', came the answer. I need to speak to him, I said. Show me where that is. I came out to a yard, we went past a place with some screens inside which there was an inflatable children's pool. Beyond that, there were a group of men playing bolas criollas, amongst them my driver in his loud green shirt. Completely drunk. Oh god, I said; how can I get a taxi out of here? 'At this time of night?' came the reply, with a laugh, 'pretty much impossible. You could walk out of here but it would take many hours ... if you made it out at all. Pretty rough, around here'.  Where was I going to stay? I didn't even know where I was. That's where I woke up. When I finally fell asleep again, was dreaming of hijacking the taxi driver's car and just drive out of there but as I didn't know the area my only aim was to go down the hill and soon I was lost. Woke up again. Fell asleep again, to dream I was staying in that man's car, in the freezing cold of the night, while shadows and voices crept out on the streets outside. Finally woke up for real, in shivers, in my little flat far away from whatever nightmarish place my mind had visited in my sleep.

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