where blue begins
Mongui, Colombia, 5 Jan 2018: The national anthem plays on the radio every night at 6pm, and a small man in waterproof trousers and matching cornflower blue hat and jumper is standing at the reception desk at the hotel. He waits. The receptionist is nowhere to be seen. Or found. He’s the picture of blue impatience. And the national anthem plays on. No one listens. A woman wearing heavy hiking boots stealths quietly through the front door; she sets her walking stick against the wall and sits in a chair nearest the window. She is trying to login to the hotel’s free Wi-fi. Without success. She looks lost. There’s no mobile signal up here. The altitude is over 3,200 metres. Wi-fi is the only connection with the small world below us. And the national anthem plays on. The man in blue, hits the brass bell again with his hand. No one listens. Sorry, don’t know, I say to the woman when she asks for the Wi-fi password. The small man glares at the woman, his jaw grinds, mincing his words but he holds them behind tight lips. Tomorrow morning he’ll walk into the hills, cross above the treeline, through the clouds and up where blue begins. But right now, it’s 6pm. The national anthem plays on the radio — but no one listens.