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Bazyli and I

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Relaxing by the Rio Magdalena

Giving a lift – The rude Pole – Our adventure in Tierradentro

Traveling by car puts us in the unique position of having something that’s widely sought after – a comfortable means of transport. Whether to give complete strangers a lift or not is always a question we have to deal with and make instantaneous decisions about. We had decided to keep the rear seats in our car just for this purpose; we thought giving rides would be a great means to help the locals and meet interesting travelers. The idea however, fell by the wayside when we read of the devious schemes designed to extract money from foreigners. So we have contented ourselves by offering the occasional ride to fellow travelers. Until, that is, we met Bazyli.

I am not sure that Bazyli is his name. All I know is that he is from Poland. Our introduction to him was when he aggressively butted into a conversation we were having with two other travelers from the UK, Gavin and Claire. I felt the vibe even then. I knew that sometime, somewhere, he was going to ask us for a lift. We left for dinner shortly thereafter. Gav and Claire recounted to us the next day how Bazyli had had a monologue with them afterwards about his book, his photos and his life. The next day, he didn’t recognize Claire.

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Framed by the hills of San Augustin

We never saw him again in Bogotá. On our way to Tierradentro on a rough road, we stopped at the roadside taking photos of the amazing scenery. A mototaxi, which is a pickup with a covered bed and seats crammed with passengers, passed us. “Hey Neena” Shreesh said, “I just saw the Polish guy”. Oops.

Close to Tierradentro archaeological park is Hospedaje Pisimbalá. Not fancy, but sufficient. They had hot water. We arrived tired and hungry and were enjoying the simple but good meal prepared by the owner. Who walks in but Bazyli. Shreesh, in a moment of temporary madness, greeted him. Bazyli showed no signs of recognition. On the way to his room, he turned to us abruptly.

Bazyli: “Where I know you from?”

Shreesh: “We met in Bogotá”

Bazyli: “When did you get here?”

Shreesh: “Today”

Bazyli: “Today? From where?”

Shreesh: “San Augustin”

Bazyli: “I come from San Augustin. How I do not see you?”

Shreesh: “We have our own car”

Bazyli: “Ah! You are the people with the car. Why did you not pick me up?”

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Gorgeous Colombian scenery

And he strode away. I knew then that I absolutely did not want to give him a ride. He simply rubbed me the wrong way and I did not want to spend seven hours listening to stories about his book. But although its our car and our vacation, I felt that we would be expected to help out. We strategized. We would say that we didn’t have space. There was luggage on the back seat. This was when my paranoia started. We met him on and off throughout the day. Shreesh would greet him. I would pretend to be absorbed with something else.

Bazyli made no attempt to engage us in conversation. When we returned to the hotel in the evening, he didn’t address us. He didn’t knock on our door asking for a lift. I should have felt relieved but I didn’t. Somehow I knew that my fears weren’t unfounded.

We woke up at 5 am to get an early start to Popayan. I had been up since 4:19 am playing out the various conversations with Bazyli. We got ready. We packed the car. At 6:00 am we were ready to leave. Shreesh stopped to chat with a bus driver to enquire about the state of the road, which we had heard was closed. It was. All the time, I was fuming, impatient to get away. I knew Bazyli was lurking somewhere.

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19th century church in Pisimbalá

In his usual deliberate style, Shreesh walked to the car, started it and backed out. I wanted to urge him to hurry, but I bit my lip. Bazyli hadn’t shown up yet. I was being unreasonable and unfair. I jumped into the car, thankfully. Just as Shreesh engaged the first gear to move away, the door to the hotel opened. There was Bazyli, all packed and ready to go. When he appeared like that, suddenly, just as I was heaving a sigh of relief, I lost it. It was a scene straight out of a horror movie. The courteous thing to do would have been to explain to him why we couldn’t take him.

“Hurry up!” I screamed at Shreesh. “Go! Go! Go!”.

Shreesh wanted to stay and do the polite thing, but felt that he couldn’t explain my screaming that Bazyli must have heard through the open window. The car lurched forward leaving Bazyli in a whirl of dust in the middle of the road, staring after us.

6 Responses to “Bazyli and I”

  1. madhuri says:

    he he, no carpooli for Bazyli !!

  2. Fred says:

    You can always say, “I have room, but frankly we don’t like you.” That will work.

  3. unawoken says:

    All things said and done, you guys didn’t do too Bazyli. I agree with Fred, although from your description, it seems like there is not telling how the crankshafts inside his skull work.
    Reminds me of that Robin William’s movie: RV

  4. ada says:

    Always listen to your instincts. If they say not to do something it’s usually the RIGHT thing!

  5. Shirley says:

    “a monologue” … I love it!!! I’ve met people like that-ouch!

  6. Neena says:

    Hi Vinay,
    I need to see the movie RV!
    I am a little surprised by the comments. I have been feeling pretty bad about myself treating “Basyli” this “badlyi”!

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