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We end up, more safely, at a funfair in a little tin box approximately the shape of a rocket ship (innocent of any such nannyish contrivances as seat belts, handles, security catches) hurtling around in the air thirty feet above the ground. On the ghost train the little carriage that is to take us wobbling through inferno initially doesn't work; something to do with the rain perhaps? Only when the man bare-handed clangs together two spitting and crackling electrodes do we lurch forward into the dripping nightmare of a fair ground ride free of all safety precautions, dangling rubber skeletons and luminous ghouls the least of my fears.

We fly to Cartagena together; the hotel is fine, an old building round a courtyard. But the next day my son decides that we need a little luxury, daytime at least. We get into a cab and he tells the driver to take us to the Hotel Caribe, a five star hotel. "It's very good, Dad, anyone can go and use the pool". Dammit, he knows the doorman, and in we sweep, spending an afternoon lolling by the sumptuous pool. The next day we ride a speedboat to Isola del Pirata with a whole bunch of other tourists and he shows me how to work my snorkel.

The next evening is New Years Eve. The place to go is to a historic Plaza in the old town. There is a bar there with a little trio who play cumbias and gaitas. Outside kindly policemen distribute lethal handheld rockets to tiny children and fire their revolvers in the air. I drink in the bar with a jolly pockmarked hooker and, (in Querelle de Brest-style white uniform) a matelot to my left; for the flagship of the French navy, the Jeanne d'Arc has docked. Felix tears around the square with a bunch of other kids and finally falls to sleep with his head on the leather padded bar; I feel a bit guilty; should the lad be sleeping at ten past midnight at a smoky bar next to a hooker? But on waking up he refuses to go back to the hotel. There is slight commotion in the square; and here comes a little knot of people, a couple of policemen, a few bodyguards and in their midst the white haired and bespectacled President of Colombia. My son gets up, pushes his way through the little crowd and shakes the President's hand.

But it's my turn next. For my matelot has told me that tomorrow is open day on the Jeanne d'Arc. And so for this once I can plan the day. I tell my son the next morning that we are going to see another particularly interesting baroque church; (not one of the boring old ones visited today.) Oh, Dad, do we have to? Yes; and it involves a long tram ride to the port as well. (Daa…ad!) When the baroque church turns out to be an aircraft carrier the lad falls silent, though neither of us was impressed by the bridge; no ship's wheel to lash yourself to here. Disappointingly we discover that the steering is done by a kind of computer game joystick a few inches high in the center of a little dial labelled 'gauche/droite/avant/arriere'. How nautical is that?


need these streets
city sublime
seismic city
chopper shot
perfect city
dark city
global flaneur
shanghai and seoul
city tourist
loathsome centres
krung thep
sex city
hong kong
nightmares dreams
new sublime
dickens in la

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