So we drop our bags off in our spacious room and decide to head out right away to make it in time to the Alcaldia before 5pm. It's a short walk in streets swarming with bicitaxistas, we turn a corner and we’re there. We walk into the building timidly, unsure of how two white foreigners would be received in this space. In this empty lobby, we’re greeted by a woman, sitting at the only desk in the space, just a small notebook in front of her. We explain our project to her and ask her who would be the ideal person to talk to find out more about the bicitaxistas in the city. She nods and points to a door right next to us. Unsure, we open the door and enter a room with a few desks and the walls filled to the ceiling with stacked folders and paper. At each desk is someone either clicking at their phone or taking notes. The lack of computers explains the piles and piles of paper. We reiterate our intentions to the first man who greets us. Without hestitation he replies that there will be no problem, but that we need to come by tomorrow. The person in charge of the bicitaxistas is already gone for the day. He finishes by saying that we’ll have no problem recognizing him tomorrow as he’s the youngest man in the office. We thank him and leave, happily surprised by how easy it was to set up a meeting.
After having had dinner near the central park (ceviche, mmm…), we arrive back to our room and throw ourselves on the bed, finally feeling our exhaustion. We decide to reconnect with the international world by turning on the mini TV hanging from the ceiling to watch the news. As he’s brushing his teeth, Etienne calls out to me from the bathroom, “is this one of them, or is this just another bug?”. Due to past experiences, I’ve become somewhat of a cockroach expert…I get up reluctantly, go to identify the possible victim. Yup, that’s definitely a cockroach. (We don’t kill them when they’re not cockroaches). SPLAT!
Five minutes later, I see something dart away from under our bed. Another one? Swat! That’s it, I’m putting our bags up on the empty bed. (Last year, a cockroach layed eggs in my bag). As I put Etienne’s bag down on the bed, a big one runs for its life from under his bag. Eeek! We check around and, presuming we’ve gotten them all, we sit back down for the news. A little confused, I try to translate what they’re saying about Paris. Still disturbed by the presence of our visitors, I’m only half paying attention to what's being said. Charlie Hebdo? What’s that magazine again? Oh yea, now I remember…It’s known for its provocative drawings of Mohammad, among others. A wave of sadness comes over me as they show, one by one, the faces of the artists that were killed. I look online to find out more information about what happened. Twelve people were killed. It happened today. I see that my sister has written, “Je suis Charlie” on Facebook. While processing and relating all this to Etienne, I get up to brush my teeth. Another one the size of my thumb this time! Squish! The mix of horrible news and invasion of cockroaches is a little overwhelming. Two (very different) feelings of vulnerability are passing through me…
After a few more violent encounters with a small army of cockroaches, we realize we might have a little bit of a problem. There’s clearly a nest nearby. I’m ready to tough it out, as long as our bags are closed to keep them from hitching a ride with us to our next destination. Etienne, however, decides enough is enough. Fuming, he puts on his shorts and storms out. Two minutes later, a consortium of four employees is in the room with Etienne behind them. I’m still in my pjs, lying in bed…The security guard, the owner, the owner's mother, and the maintenance woman are surrounding me. The guard pulls out a can of pesticides from his pockets and starts spraying every corner of our room. I’m outta here! I decide to watch the events unroll through door frame, to avoid eating deet before bed.
As they spray, the owner keeps repeating that they’ve never had cockroaches before because they fumigate every Sunday. They must have been brought by the people before us. She probably feels that we might not believe her, so she goes to the closet in the hallway and pulls out her fumigation material. She waves it around in our faces a few times to make sure we get the point. With the room now so full of toxic fumes that even a human wouldn’t survive long, they decide to head out.
After waiting for it all to settle, we get back to the news.
(Yea yea, I know you all thought it was much worse than this, but we like to keep you hanging! Hihihi)