Lodgey and Life on the Road. Stories from South America.

17 July 2010

Geezer's birthday

The morning we leave Rurre, we had not only said goodbye to Rambo, but our new friends Meg and Hunter. So feeling rather depressed we get ready to go back to La Paz – dreading the mayhem, cold weather and high altitude.

But as Meg and Hunter are leaving they break the news that they have decided to come to La Paz for Geezer’s birthday. We are rapt.

We head to Rurre airport and get an enormous amount of grief from a security guard. So Geezer cheekily strikes a Hitler pose and army marches past him which has me in hysterics and the guard looking puzzled.

The next day is Geezer’s birthday but we have several missions to do including printing some photos to send to Rambo and booking a tour to San Pedro prison.

At the stroke of midnight, I sing happy birthday to my Geezer.

The next morning we are up early, wolf down breakfast and go to meet our guide for a tour of San Pedro prison – a famous prison that is run by the inmates not guards. It’s not your regular prison. It has restaurants, women and children live there and many of the inmates run businesses from there.

It is a common tourist attraction but it is still a surreal experience. The inmates ‘cells’ are more like apartments – some of which are two stories high – and many of them have pets. They hold elections each year to nominate inmates to run the prison, its finances and security. They pretty much bribe the guards to stay outside.

We spend a few hours there talking to some of the inmates and feel very safe. But it never escapes our minds that the inmates are there for a reason and after a while we leave.

We head back to the hostel to meet Meg and Hunter and are happy to be reunited because we miss them already. We make plans for drinks later that day but we are both exhausted.

It gets to 8pm and we are both in bed feeling knackered, desperately wanting to celebrate Geezer’s birthday but having no energy to do it.

Then there is a knock at the door and in march Meg and Hunter with a birthday cake and a candle, singing happy birthday. Their happiness and smiles, that have the ability to perk you up in an instant, make us jump out of bed and get ready to go out. They present Geezer with a gift – the most beautiful Bolivian poncho – and a card with words that make me weep. They have gone to so much effort. And we feel even luckier to have crossed their paths.

So we head to a great English pub underneath our hostel and sit on lounges in the corner listening to Geezer’s favourite music. They even play ‘I fought the law’ by The Clash not once, but twice, just for Geezer. Having been regulars in there, the staff let us stay until well past closing time.

We stagger up to our hostel in the wee hours and play some tunes in our room before calling it a night - a perfect night with Geezer feeling very happy to have had his birthday abroad in a great pub with great music and great friends.

No comments: