They’d moved me to a lower bunk in another room, so I decided to stay in Santa Marta a few more days. It was nearly November 1, All Saints Day, tucked right between Halloween and All Souls Day, which I’d claimed as the official launch date for my Haunted Rock enterprise a few years earlier. The previous year I’d traveled down to Mexico City for the Day of the Dead festivities, and was hoping they’d have something comparable going on in Colombia, but there seemed to be nothing of that magnitude. People would probably be going to the cemeteries to visit their loved ones, but that was it.
I’d sent out job inquiries to every teaching job posted on seriousteachers.com by now, but had only heard back from a few schools. During the summer I’d been offered positions in Myanmar and Vietnam, but had turned them both down, hoping to base myself out of the States again if I could. There were substitute positions in both Hawaii and California, but I couldn’t live on what they were paying. I had an interview with a school in China that night. By now I’d resolved to take almost anything I was offered. I desperately needed to have some money coming in, no matter where it came from.
My idea was to travel to a town called Mompox next. From what I’d read the area around the Magdalena River, where it’s based, had inspired the magical realism of Gabriel Garcia Marquez, and his most famous novel, A Hundred Years of Solitude. Magical Realism is a style of literature that mixes fantasy and reality. Supernatural occurrences take place amidst the most mundane of circumstances. Mompox seemed like the perfect place to work on my song and poem galleries. The problem is that the images were no longer uploading to my website.
I spent a long time searching the internet trying to fix this problem. One thing that came up was that I might not have enough storage left on my account to add more photos. That didn’t seem like it would be the case, but I looked into it, discovering that when I’d changed from the Business to the Premium plan on WordPress, my storage had dropped from two hundred to fifteen gigabytes. I’d used up more than half of that, but there was still space available, so that wasn’t the problem. Even if I did get the images to start uploading again, however, now I knew that there wasn’t nearly enough storage for the five hundred pictures I wanted to post. It was a very simple project that should have been easy to execute, yet I was being bedeviled at every turn.
Taking a break from that, I decided to focus on getting to Mompox. I’d been told that it was very complicated. You had to take a bus to Barranquilla, then another bus to Magangue, then a motorcycle to the river, then a boat across the river. Ordinarily, this sort of expedition wouldn’t daunt me, but I was feeling overwhelmed, still under the weather and sick with depression. I did a number of searches and found that there was one direct bus a day from Santa Marta to Mompox, but when I tried to buy a ticket online the transaction failed to go through on two different websites. I ended up taking a taxi to the bus station, which was as far away as possible, and took a half hour to get to. It only took two minutes to buy the ticket and then I had to take a taxi all the way back, but at least it was done.
The best thing about the hostel was the small pool out back. The climate was so humid I was already getting crotch rot, and a short walk down to the beach and back at midday had drenched me in sweat. I took a brief swim and tried to just relax and get ready for my interview that night. A few hours before it, I took a shower and tried to shave. Halfway through the job, my electric razor seized up, leaving me with half a beard. That would’ve been perfect if I was auditioning for the lead in Diary of a Madman, the novella by Nikolay Gogol, not the album by Ozzy Osbourne. I tried charging the battery, then banged it around until it started buzzing again, just long enough to let me finish the job. Does that count as magical realism? On some level it must.
I wasn’t nervous about the interview, because I didn’t care much for the job. It was a Canadian school that had multiple branches in China. The principal was an American and our conversation was mostly cordial. It seemed like I could probably be a good fit for them. When he sent me the follow-up material, however, I saw they were asking me to get a Canadian teaching credential and also looking for a three-year commitment. That wasn’t going to work. If I needed to, I’d go back to Saudi Arabia. In the past I’d gotten offers there based on sending off my resume alone. If they still wanted me, they could have me. Anyone who made it easy enough could have me. My bags were already packed. I was ready to go.