Rhythm of the Night. Cartegena, Colombia.

The night was young. Earlier, I had spotted a Cuban bar that I had the desire to check out. A couple of us from the boat ride headed to Little Havana and prepared ourselves for the rhythm of salsa to enter our souls.


I have a thing for Cuba. I don’t know if it’s the fact that our stupid parental figure doesn’t allow us to pay the beautiful island a visit, the taste of mojitos, or possibly even the music of the Buena Vista Social Club. But, if I could be born again (literally, not spiritually), I would like to be a Latino, possibly a Cuban. Walking into Little Havana, my face lit up with a smile. I was home.


The band kicked it off with an upbeat tune, and that’s when the place began to fill with energy. I can hold my ground in Latin dancing, but also look kind of stupid at the same time. Luckily, this older Colombian took me under his wing and attempted to teach me how to shake my hips like it’s nobodies business. He would throw one hand on his head and the other on his hips, and then proceeded to look just like Shakira. I would try to imitate his steps, yet considering I’m white, would always provide him with disappointment. He didn’t give up on me, and eventually, I managed to look like I had a little Latino in me. Not much..just a little.


Now it was time to try my dance moves out with a girl. I spotted a few in the corner, but their dance skills were intimidating. They really knew what they were doing. In order to approach them, I had to give myself a pump up speech.


“Come on Eric, you can do it. You’re a Latino. You are just as Latin as the Colombian girl you are about to dance with. And yes, Ricky Martin is jealous of you.”


I finally went up and asked for a dance. Of course, she agreed and laughed hysterically at me the entire song. I thought I did alright, but of course, I was addressed as the crazy white boy for the rest of the night. Damn…guess I’ll never be Latino.


By this time, my crew from the boat had taken off. I looked around and realized I had made all new friends, most of them Colombian, and was having the time of my life attempting to dance the night away. My dance teacher took off, so from there on out, I attempted to let the music move me and take advice from anyone who would provide it.


The band was jamming, and then I had a brilliant idea. I was going to play the cowbell. Anytime I go to a bar and there is a live band, I somehow manage them to let me sit in for a song. But, I knew the task before me was going to be difficult. In between every song, I repeatedly screamed “let me play the cowbell, let me play the cowbell!” I finally made eye contact with the percussionist and showed him that I could do the basic beat. After yelling at the band and practically on my hands and knees for half an hour, they finally obliged. I’m guessing it was only to shut me up. But my moment of Latino stardom had arrived.


Jumping up on stage, all of the people I befriended began to laugh their ass off. The band was already rocking, so I entered in, and of course, I messed up instantly. I quickly fixed my timing problem, and finally, I was in the groove. The actual playing is only part of the show. Now I had to bust out my dance moves. As I began to concentrate on shaking my hips, I kind of forgot to play with the band. When I say kind of, I mean I was completely off beat. Within a matter of seconds, the leader quickly stole the cowbell out of my hands. I’m not exactly sure what he said since he was speaking so fast, but I’m guessing it looked something like this.


“Stupid gringo! You’re to damn white! Get off the stage.”


“Latino, I have a fever, and the only prescription is more cowbell!”


“There is no prescription for your sorry white ass!”


In all, I had maybe twelve seconds of stardom, but it was the best twelve seconds of my life. Afterwards, all the white people in the bar asked me for tips on how to become more Latino. Of course, I pulled the answer out of my ass and told them that if they buy a cowbell, the rest will come. I’m sure they all quickly ran to the music store.


The band finally wounded down, and everyone began to head out. I told all of my new Colombian friends adios (Spanish for goodbye) and headed back to my hostel. As I laid down, I quickly glanced at my clock. It was half past three in the morning. I then remembered that I was supposed to leave to catch a bus at six the following morning.


Hmmm. That’s not good.


Filed under Colombia

6 responses to “Rhythm of the Night. Cartegena, Colombia.

  1. jason

    Great posts! Thanks for letting me relive it all.

  2. susan

    Eric, what am I going to do with you- you’re too dang funny!

  3. Craig

    I went out with a Cuban girl way back when. She tried to teach me, but I wasn’t very good either!

  4. Laura

    Oh Eric. I miss your sarcastic humor. I can just picture it all…and who are you kidding…really holding your own in salsa???? Get back on that e-mail chain we have lots to catch up on…hugs

  5. ali(sister)

    your coming home tonight! are you excited?? haha probably not…. but you get to see me saturday so i know that you are thrilled about that! call me when you get in….

  6. Pingback: Hanging With the Fam. Caucasia, Colombia. « Travel to Move

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