Yes I’m back in Bogota. Arrived this morning from Manizales, at 6.00 am!!! The night bus. Quite comfy. Each seat had its own screen for movies and music. So no blaring movies onboard. Took my gravol. However, the motion of the up and down and round and round was felt and didn’t really allow for a great sleep.
What’s been up the past few days?! This may get lengthy.
I left Jardin at 6.25 am on Sunday (snore) and arrived to Manizales around 11.00 am. Again gravol was my friend! The drive through the countryside was truly stunning. Its very difficult to describe for you. Colombia has only one season, so its always green and lush. But depending on where you are the climate changes, as does the scenery. And the landscape varies, not drastically but it does change. Seeing the countryside has been my most favourite part.
The ride to Manizales was rather uneventful, with a few exceptions… have you ever been on a windy country road and been overtaken by a cyclist on the driver side in a curve???! Or been blasting along that same road and all of a sudden there is a group of cyclists stopped in the middle of your lane, taking a break thinking nothing of not being off to the side where it would be safe and a vehicle/cyclist would have less chance of slamming into them!!! About 3 hours out of Jardin, the original minibus I was on stops at the side of the road, the driver gets out opens the sliding door and yells something out that I couldn’t decipher. It turns out its my transfer point to another minibus to Manizales. So I grab my gear and hoof it across the small, but crazy, highway to get on the waiting minibus.
Manizales is a city built up on the hillsides. And although I disliked the cities I met, I didn’t mind it there. My cab ride was interesting. The driver was a small, toothless 70s hippy looking kind of stereotypical character. And the whole front dash of his taxi was a shrine to his religion. Pictures and statues of popes, saints, JC, Mary, Joseph, rosaries, crosses, faux fur trim of some sort around the rear view mirror, etc. Perhaps that was all necessary as his little taxi was gutless on the very steep inclines to the hostel. I should have taken a picture.
I met a Swiss gal staying at the hostel and we hung out for a day and a half. We covered alot of ground. We walked Santander and saw the sites there… Catedral Manizales (massive and too large for todays built up and cluttered area) and Iglesia de la Immaculada Concepcion, Plaza de Bolivar, Barrio chipre, los colonizadores monument (really cool), and magnificent views all around as we walked. We wanted to see the eco park los yarumos on Monday, but all the parks close on Mondays. We went to a small nearby town called Neira instead, it wasn’t much. To bad because a day trip to Salamina would have been much better. But the big assed church I mentioned, it was quite visible from the other side of the valley when travelling back from Neira. Interesting to, because Manizales is spread all over the hillsides, the view of rooftops gives the impression of layers of slums. That isn’t always the case though.
On Tuesday I hung out with a guy from Germany and we went to los yarumos… what a disappointment. A man there explained about a long and short hike around the park and we couldn’t find any signed trails or proper paths so we turned back. We did come across 3 teenage boys who were on the other side of the fence. Thankfully. The smaller one was very persistent in asking for money. I was quite thankful that Felix spoke Spanish, and there was a fence between us. Although 2 of the 3 managed to find a spot to jump the fence and find us later sitting in the public area enjoying the view. This time there were more people around. I’m also glad I didn’t go to this place by myself. I found out later Felix told them I was his mother! Following that we returned to the hostel to grab our swim suits and head to local natural thermal pools. The city bus took us there. I was concerned after a bit as we were coming to the edge of town in an industrial area, and then on the edge of that were the thermals! Quite a strange setting to say the least. It was okay. We weren’t in view of the industrial park once inside. Not something i’d do again. And certainly was overpriced in my mind considering. They even charged me extra for a towel! LOL. On the return we get to an intersection and its chaos. The driver of a bus coming toward us stops our driver and says something to him, and is pointing to the lower side of the driver side. I correctly surmise there is an issue with the tire. So the driver makes a uturn, backs into a lot of some sort, gets out walks around. He says nothing to the passengers. And then I hear what is a hydraulic thingy removing bolts, a little bump, bolts being tightened, and a drop… the Jack is removed! Driver gets in, wipes his hands on a towel, turns on the engine and away we go! I looked around and couldn’t see a proper tire shop. What I did see, and ive seen many of these in my bus travels here, is a shack with an odd assortment of used tires in it. That was all he did. Swap out one no good tire for another used tire. Who knows the condition of it. Priceless. I now understand more clearly why theres a lot of crossing of the chests here before boarding, and while travelling on buses!!!
I decided to leave Manizales on the night bus and return to Bogota. The people I met there had moved on so it felt like I should too.
I have 2 days in Bogota, and then I fly home. I’m looking forward to returning home for many reasons. And I’m also thinking about what Colombian destinations I’d like to see next trip.
Ciao. Buenos tardes.