Immediately grabbed what we could and dived over several rows of salt to lie as flat and quiet as we could in the darkness
Brief Spanish shouting is followed by the heavy flapping noise from the canvas window and the thud of military boots onto the salt sacks. I look across to see a member of the military police carefully stepping over the debris from my bag explosion, shining his torch on everything from empty water bottles to dirty underwear and toothpaste. The tension of his approach becomes too much for me to bear and I bolt upright and say “Hola,” not really sure how I will explain why I was hiding in the back of the lorry. Anthony’s faked “awakening” adds to the confusion.
He shines the torch in my direction, casually says “Buenos dias,” and asks us whether we have paid the driver any money, where we are from and if we have Visas. I begin to babble and explain that we have no money, but have work lined up in Ecuador, and are hitchhiking there. He examines our passports and then leaves the lorry cool as a cucumber, telling us to just sit back down.
We hear Amilkar speaking to him and telling him the same story while handing his documents over. He says something in a low voice and we hear nothing more as the tension mounts. What would we do if we were kicked out here? It is almost dark and we are on a quiet stretch of road.
Suddenly Amilkar pops up under the canvas with a huge grin on his face saying “Todo bien, vamos!”
As we continued to drive we realised that the military police were checking if we were being smuggled illegally, and that after hearing our situation, despite the several laws we were breaking, they would let us go on anyway to help us out. Colombian people, in our experience, will help you in any way they can, whether they’re a truck driver, a normal person in the street or a military police officer. Really, we have experienced none of the stuff that people are convinced will happen to us just because we’re in Colombia or South America.
Later that night it began to get very cold as we went higher in altitude, so we stayed covered by blankets. We approached what can only be described as a mega military check point. The epicenter of all other checkpoints. Rows of heavily armed military police, search lights, and half a kilometer of speed bumps so they can get a good look in. We both lay completely still covered by a blanket near the gap of the canvas as we slowly passed row after row of military personnel. After another intense ten minutes we made it past the mega checkpoint and made our second lucky escape of the day.
Check back tomorrow for the final instalment!