I like to travel and see the world.
I enjoy meeting new people and seeing things we wouldn’t normally see, but it’s those one off characters that you meet along the way while traveling that brings a little smile to the face and makes you say “That could only happen here”!
In the small city of David close to the border of Costa Rica we wait for our guide who will take us on a tour of the surrounding countryside. This is where we meet one shady looking funny geezer. We are here in Panama for the first of our visa runs but also to bump into characters like this.
He stands near by smoking his cigarette then approaches our small group of obvious tourists whilst digging a wallet from his pocket. He’s showing us an old, battered picture. Maybe his wife, girlfriend or children. No, none of that nonsense in Panama. He holds out his favourite hard-core porn picture. Maybe this is’t such a bad thing. In the case of such a national tragedy happening as this man getting macked by a big bus, they could scoop the rest of him into a nice little sandwich bag, open his wallet and discover that he was in fact male. No need for ID just some x rated pics. Who cares about his name anyway, the man has porn and that’s the kind of heirloom that every man wants. Or maybe that’s just here.
We would later see a black 4×4 in the city centre cruising by the market vendors with a large man kneeling down in the back. A sudden stop and he’s onto the pavement with his shotgun grabbing what must be hundreds of cigarettes from someone before casually leaping back in and hitting the road. We thought we’d just witnessed a robbery but this was the police and there way of controlling the black market. No paper work needed, just frighten the shit out of them with an unmarked drive-by. Would you ask a monster with a shotgun for his police ID?
It was when we were at the border and in the process of leaving Panama when we passed one of the craziest characters I’ve ever seen. Not one of the craziest, most definitely the craziest! We were on our way to get some cheap whiskey when we passed this nutter wearing an unbuttoned military shirt, black baseball cap and shouting at no one in particular while brandishing a large silver pistol. I’m no gun expert but this thing looked heavy duty. On our way back I had my camera phone at the ready to take a very cheeky wee picture of this mad man but he was nowhere to be seen. In place there now stood a noticeable number of armed police officers. Wish I could have witnessed the events that transpired and God do I wish I had a picture of this lunatic! Maybe Simon got one?
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As far as anyone could tell I was back to normal. Working now as a Live Services Marshal for my old Indian buddies and with more money than sense, no-one could have guessed that I was continuing down the wrong path . A few friends who knew what I was using did try to talk me out of it but I was happy with my choice and only noticeably troubled when my supply ran dry. With a voluntary trip to Poland just around the corner to look forward to, as long as I could afford my habit the cracks would never show.
. . .
Arriving just in time I take my place centre stage in The Grand Hall to promote The Princes Trust programme as a model representative and Young Ambassador.
Three months have passed since I took part in this project designed to help troubled youths find their way in life and now here I stand, sweat dripping from my pasty skin, ready to take on two hundred plain clothes police officers in a speech aimed to convince the law that this organisation is different. This one can make a difference.
I had it all planned. With my blank sheets of paper as something to hold I was going to take them by storm, show them how it’s done and make it up as I go. Unfortunately my morning fix of heroin wore off about half an hour ago and now I just want to die.
Raising my arms towards my podium almost knocking it over I lean over the microphone and greet my audience. “Alright, how’s it goin’”? I wait for a reply. Silence.
Continuing my speech I seem to lose track of why I’m there and nervously tell them every detail of my life before coming to an abrupt stop. “What was I talking about? Where am I going with this? In fact, where the fuck am I?” Often finding myself in strange places while living life as a hazy day-dream I have to say that this is one of the worst places to wake up.
Television cameras zoom in from every angle covering my fine example of how not to prepare and deliver a speech. Flicking and fumbling through empty sheets of paper hoping the world will disappear I slip into my own little world for about three minutes while drug enforcers from The Strathclyde Police Department try to figure me out.
Eventually I’m brought out of my trance by my mentor whispering from the front row “Andy, it’s OK. You’ve said enough.” Shrugging my shoulders I look up and say to my audience “Well…That’s about it.” An eruption of laughter follows me off-stage and I hang my head in shame. I wanted to do well. I really believed I could, but no way in hell was I bringing my kit with me to basically a police convention.
I still do speeches from time to time. A speech at a police college, kind off stand-up routines while training for the army (telling my life story) and an interesting speech on bagpipes –considering I know nothing about them- to name just a few.
No longer feeling the need to fill my body with shit I can actually enjoy public speaking to crowds of people about anything although it can still go badly wrong with flashbacks. With no real fear at what the future brings, no shame what so ever coupled with a relaxed pace in life I can only look back and gasp “I did that”!
My drug habits really fucked me up for a long time so I do not recommend it.
Hey good lookin!
I had two lives now (nothing to do with the picture!). I was involved with Environmental conservation groups in the countryside and even a safety officer for an organisation who’d take groups of near school leavers on weekends away to take part in projects such as path building, repairing fences and toasting marshmallows over a fire.
My other life would lead me to interesting situations like these;
. . .
We made our way to a barge (flat-bottomed boat) docked up for the night on the Union canal where my friend’s Dad lives. Not exactly running for father of the year, this man has something set aside for us which we intend to take to a house party in Edinburgh.
On our arrival we’re met by the rants and raving of a lunatic, fucked on something and going crazy about someone on board. As my friend enters to talk with Daddy, I’m asked to stay outside and take care of crazy woman –keep her off the boat, away from water’s edge ect-.
I’m controlling the situation, calming her down and sympathising with her when my friend slips out to hand me a bottle of beer. I take a swig, let out a sigh and hope they won’t be much longer.
She asks for a drink. “Sure” I say as I hand her my beer then watch in horror as it’s smashed across a rock and I’m charged at by a girl intent on giving me a splintered glass facial.
Stepping back I guide her attacking arm to the side and push hard against her shoulder forcing her away from me. With new found rage her anguish is turned towards herself as she drags the jagged shards across her own wrist.
“NO”! I shout while grabbing both arms and locking them behind her back. I put my foot across her legs and push forward bringing us both crashing towards the ground. I lift my head in search of the bottle only to see the shape of my friends Dad climbing ashore, catching me in one compromising position on top of a screaming girl.
“Get off her” he shouts, but understands the situation –maybe watched it from a window- and takes my place in restraining her whilst filling me in on the fact the neighbouring boats passengers have called the police.
The police arrive and get to grips with this hysterical woman and we’re told to go back inside and give statements. Daddy’s face turns pale, but as the officer descends into the barge a loud smash from a police car window sends him hurriedly back to help take down this now ferial creature.
A stash is produced and we help get rid before joined again by Officer Plod who takes statements from a suddenly very animated set of individuals. “No, never seen her before tonight. I didn’t provoke her and no I don’t want to press charges.” The armoured police van has arrived –touch unnecessary- and the lady who turns out to be a Primary school teacher is taken away.
I wonder what her subject was. Chemistry? Drama? Or How to be a psycho?!