Well, apparently I had to come to Colombia to feel the burning sensations that only smelling tear gas can give...
Before leaving for Bogota, the other assistants and I were told that La Pedagogica is known for student riots. The reasoning behind these riots is the fact that the students feel that the government doesn´t spend enough money on public education which is well, true seeing that there is little or no technology at this University (oh boy, I miss UWI).
Anywho, students hold riots as a means of telling the government that they are displeased with their situation and honestly, not one shit comes from these riots, the government simply ignores them or fights them like they did last week.
The time was 2:15 PM, the day was Thursday 24th February, 2011 and I was running from a tank that was spraying water from the sewers into the air. It had all started earlier when a guard came to our office to tell us that we should be ready to leave at a moment´s notice because they were expecting a riot. Now, this wasn´t my first riot so I immediately knew that we should pack our crap, wait to hear the first bomb and leave running.
About fifteen minutes after the warning, the first bomb went off but for some reason we didn´t leave the University. It wasn´t until some girl told us that the students were being evacuated that we left. By my standards, our exit was uneventful. Students were standing in the courtyard cheering on their "warriors" as they walked briskly through the courtyard, dressed to kill in garbage bag like garments held together with scotch tape, straight off the runways of Paris and clutching black, plastic bags filled with beer. We made it safely out of the University and like any Trini we stood in the streets, ready to observe.
The beginning of the riot was normal as students could be seen in the streets, cheering, kicking a ball or else, engaging in public displays of affection whilst their "warriors" took their positions in the middle of the street, boldly telling a bus driver to turn back as they started burning something in the streets. It was quiet for awhile because the "warriors" were waiting for the riot police to come so as to start the riot.
The silence was broken as my friend yelled and I turned around to see the big, black, police tank coming from the opposite end of the street, spraying it´s shitty contents onto unsuspecting spectators. I started running behind my friends and for some reason I found myself thinking, "Oh God, ah bathe aready!" While running, I would look back ever so often to see Mr. Tank coming down the road. I felt like Harry Potter and Draco Malfoy in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows when they were trying to escape the fiendfyre in the Room of Requirement. I also started laughing because the whole situation was hysterical to me. We headed down a side street and eventually, stopped to catch our breaths from running and laughing at the same time. Oddly enough, instead of going "home" we went around and came out on the opposite end of the street where the tank had started its rampage. It was getting better!
From our vantage point I could see the tank spraying the University and the "warriors" with all its shitty glory. The "warriors", protected by their garbage bag garments- I see the logic now- continued their assault by throwing their lab- made bombs at the tank. Luckily for the tank and its crew, reinforments were on the way as a group of about thirty riot police, dressed in all black and carrying tear gas launchers arrived on the backs of motorcycles ridden by normal police men. Their dramatic entrance reminded me of a scene from a movie when the star is in trouble, with no obvious signs of escape and his friends arrive to rescue him/ her. You know... like in that movie... ahm... with the American actor... oh gosh... the movie was EPIC... ahm... maybe, I should go back to the blog post?
Well, the riot police were not playing nice and started firing tear gas into the air so as to disperse the crowd of spectators; students and pedastrians alike. It was running time again as they fired some in our direction. Honestly, I didn`t like that because I was not warring with the police, I was being "fass" so I didn`t deserve the tear gas. Anyway, we stopped at the TransMilenio station to take a look and imagine my surprise when I saw students pelting big stones at the riot police who were protecting themselves from "buss head" with their sheild thingies. A tear gas canister flew overhead and the students were no longer throwing stones but, throwing frames trying to avoid the spicy aroma of tear gas entering their many orifices.
Naturally, we ran and I felt no desire to see anymore of the riot. We stood for awhile and about five minutes later, I was playing a boardgame and drinking a Redd`s in some bar with other students. Apparently, it`s what they do when there is a riot and it sort of reminded me of Trinidadian behaviour.
Overall, the riot was EPIC. Until next time!