You could see that he was bored. It was clear that anything was going to be more interesting than what he was currently doing. So, I struck up a conversation with the Military Policeman at that moment on sentry duty three buildings down from the residence of the Colombian Minister of Defense in Rosales.
He came from Risaralda, yes, times are much better now in Colombia. He believed in the peace accords with the FARC. In his mind, the ELN (Colombia’s second guerrilla group) were not interested in striking a peace deal. We agreed on this. He was nineteen and a conscript. He remembered the bad times in Risaralda when the guerrilla ran amok at will. Being in the Military Police was a decision that was made for him. Long hours he said. He would be here on this street from 6am until 6pm and was not permitted to sit down. When he wasn’t registering the cars parked on the road, he was focused intensely on his mobile telephone or thinking about lunch. At least the day shift was better than the nighttime one from 6pm to 6am he said.
How long does it take to get to England he asked? Colombian women are indeed beautiful. What did I think of paisa women? He was suitably impressed that I had spent time at both the Tolemaida and Macarena military bases. He would have preferred to have been in a more active military unit. Yes, he said, President Santos’ son Martin had been based in Puerto Lopez and so had seen military action. We agreed that this was but a precursor to a career in politics. But yes, there are a couple of divisions specifically for the children of the wealthy. They don’t see action he said. One is the Guardia Presidencial and the other is the Division 13 he informed me.
If he went to England, he wanted to know, would he have success with the women? Dance I said. Even if you dance badly you’ll be better at it than us.
The sentry smiled.