So on Wednesday I decided to take a day bus to Pereira. It would be a nice way to see the countryside. A great idea. I get a taxi to the station, buy my ticket and wait. The bus arrives, I get my baggage tag put my pack underneath get to my seat. There are 2 drivers, the assisting driver walks down the aisle handing out little plastic bags. I look at him questioningly, he mimics vomiting! I laugh and think nothing of it. Then a bolivinario bus company employee gets on and videos each passenger. I had heard about this.
My journey starts. Firstly, it was almost an hour and a half to get out of Bogota! You already are familiar with that traffic scene.
The countryside is gorgeous. Green, lush, interesting vegetation, and the mountains are stunning. Not like home, green vegetation up to peaks that drop, think of very sharp cone shapes. It’s quite amazing. Herein lies the travel by bus dilemma…
Once we were out of the major, major, traffic it seemed quite normal highway traffic. And then… we got into the thick of it. The Andes. Windy, twisty, curvy, narrow, up and down, cliff dropping edges on one side and cliff hugging on the other. The views were spectacular. My head began to swim, my stomach disagree with the ‘great idea’ of taking the bus, as I reminded myself where I put my wee bag! Breathe, breathe, yoga breathe. And all I could get was exhaust, diesel, and humidity. You see there are no trains that service alternate options for transport in Colombia. Its all truck transport. So again, bumper to bumper with other vehicles at 30 to 80ish kms/h. Constant, non stop, with the up and down and round and round. I’m no sailor but I’m sure this trip would knock the sails out of a few. Oh, and movies are playing… loudly, dubbed in spanish. Playing was a Jason Statham flick, real steel, escape plan and 12 years a slave. The last hour of the trip was quiet and heaven. I could focus on my breathing. Way over stimulated.
Just past Armenia was a police check. They do these periodically and check bags onboard and foreign passports. It happened to be my lucky day! I get off the bus, remove my pack from below and open it. The guy speaks a little English, welcomes me to Colombia, asks where I’m from, digs through my bag. My baggy of vitamins are there, labeled of course, so I explain what they are. He looks a little closer at them. Helps me to close up my bag, smiles and away I go onto the bus.
I arrived to my destination before 11 PM. Almost 9 1/2 hours. I didn’t puke tho! I got to alejandra’s shortly after by taxi. That was weird being let out at night on a street, in a city and neighbourhood I don’t know anything about. And unlit, but for the entrance way, where the doorman is waiting for me to come through. He was expecting me.
Alejandra is very nice. She is a city planning lawyer in Pereira. She is making application to USA schools to do her PhD in urban planning in 2015. She speaks English. And has been very accommodating.
I woke up this morning feeling woozy still from my trip. Alejandra took me to a place she eats, I treated, it was amazing. Rice with veg and some chicken, and cream of mushroom soup. Its somebody’s home and they serve much like a restaurant. One item only for lunch. Muy bien!
I arrived to the botanical gardens today at 1.30 and was still feeling the affects of motion sickness. The cab ride stirred up my equilibrium again. I had a tour with an English speaking uni student at the botanical gardens. While waiting I was enjoying the sun and drafting this post. Its quiet here except for the birds and workers and students. Everyone I’ve met so far has been very friendly and helpful. The tour was excellent. Amazing to have 12,7 hectares of land in the city like that with plants and animals indigenous to Colombia. I quite enjoyed that. Oh, and did I mention we had an armed security guard follow us??? The whole time. Yes. Unnerving to say the least.
Which reminds me… did I tell you about the armed guard I saw on the bike tour in Bogota? It was when we stopped at the market. There was brink truck at the atm. This dude had a pump action shot gun. It looked state of the art lethal. And shiny too. I thought better than to take a picture. He looked like he was pissed off enough for reason to shoot.
On that note, on the trip to Pereira I saw an armed police vehicle going the other direction, that looked like something out of Running Man! Seriously, it was black… like this
http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/5/5b/Tanqueta.jpg. Alejandra told me today teachers are on strike. As well the farmers have been striking to. I also learned that the police and military are being trained in human rights. Something they know little about, and I’m told Colombia itself has not done well. Respect human rights.
Tomorrow I’m going to head to Salento. I hope to spend a few days there. Although its only 40 minutes from Pereira, I’m told its cold. Then I’m not so sure what is to follow. Ive got to figure out why my visa is not working – at the bus station in Bogota it was declined, and I used it just prior at checkout!
I think that’s it for today. Ciao. Buenos noches.