Our taxi driver stopped to ask a local where our hostel was, not satisfied to trust my iphone map. An Australian girl in the back started panicking.
“He’s got a machete, he’s on drugs, go, just go, please go,” – she screamed.
The guy did seem to be on something, and he did have a machete hanging off of his belt. But he didn’t seem to care much about our taxi and was only trying to help. Not that his help was reliable. We were just going back to our hostel after a night dancing in a salsa club. I showed our driver the hostel location on my phone, but there were a number of one way streets in our neighbourhood, and they all pointed the wrong way. So our driver enlisted some local help. After not finding our first machete wielding friend that helpful, he asked another guy standing alone in the streets.
The next guy was almost a clone, a similar brain-dead expression on his face, inability to speak, a large knife hanging to his side, and he also pointed us in a direction that wasn’t accurate or useful. After circling our hostel for 10 minutes, our driver finally gave up and took us the wrong way up a one way street back home.
The next day I talked to my friend Jawara, who I met in the hostel yoga class. He told me he just decided to walk back from the same club.
“Well only a couple of guys shouted at me,” he explained, “one guy started walking towards me with his hand at his side while he was shouting, as I got closer I saw he had a big knife. I just walked a long way around him and kept looking behind me to make sure I didn’t get stabbed in the back.”
There’s a reason tourists (and locals) are recommended to not walk around Cali at night.