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A New Best Friend

They say that “God provides for fools and drunks.” Well I wasn't drinking but it seems that happy coincidences tend to be the norm when traveling. We had just gotten off of the plane and cleared customs in Cartagena. We walked out of the airport and into the hot Colombian sun. There was the usual airport hustle and bustle with cabs lined up and locals trying to coax tourists into private vehicles used as unofficial taxis. Guide books warn, and savvy travelers know to be careful getting into an unmarked taxi. Many an unwitting traveler has been taken for exorbitant fees and even robberies at the hands of unlicensed cab drivers.

“Where are you going to my friend?” A thin smiling young man said in broken English.

“We are getting a taxi. Thank you.” I replied dismissively.

“Where are you from my friend?” He persisted.

“Estados Unidos” I said practicing my broken Spanish.

“Where in the states are you from?” He said.

“Mississippi” I replied knowing that his only connection would be with the famous river.

“Oh my God! I lived in Biloxi for many years. I come to Biloxi before Hurricane Katrina for work and I also work in Pascagoula!” He said.

“I was born and raised in Biloxi” I said with an amazed expression.

“Come with me! I take you to your hotel. My name is Freddie and you are my new friends in Cartagena. I will take you on tour and show to you all of Cartagena while you are here.”

Sometimes the guide books are wrong and you just have to follow your instincts. We got in the unmarked taxi and we shared stories of home. We arrived unscathed and made a new friend in Cartagena. Thanks Freddie!

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