Colombia

1st Intercity Bus ride

14 Aug , 2014  

This morning (Wed 13th) I woke up and decided I’d had enough of Bogota. There’s just so many people around all the time and the pollution is terrible. I think that if I died and my lungs were cut open, the surgeons would think I was a pack a day smoker.

I had been planning on going to Suesca but on reading my Lonely Planet again I realised its not a touristy place; more of a day trip for locals to go rock climbing on weekends. There weren’t even any hostels there to book. New plan: follow Guilia to Villa De Leyva.

Over breakfast I had a look for a place to stay. Being my luck, everywhere on hostel world was full. Everywhere. Then started Googling the town to find accommodation. Turns out, the name of the town is sometimes spelt with an ‘I’ instead of a ‘Y’. Why does it have to be so confusing?? Since I wasn’t 100% certain and didn’t want to accidentally book a place that might be in Argentina, it took a bit of extra time to look at maps for each place. Finally I found something on hotelbookers.com. I don’t know why it wasn’t on hostelworld but after all that researching I had to hurry up and pack. One day I’ll get this ‘planning ahead’ thing right.

At the Northern bus terminal Guilia and I had to get directions to the bus to Villa De Leyva (VDL). It’s possibly the only bus route that leaves from across the road and not inside the bus terminal. As I mentioned previously, there are guys running around on the footpath yelling at pedestrians trying to convince them to get on their bus. As we were walking down the ramp we saw a nice normal-sized bus and heard a guy yell VDL so I stuck my hand out and he ran up the ramp to get us. Given the rush you would have thought the bus was about to leave. Nope. He led us to the bus behind the nice bus – a tine little collectivo that was about half full. Sigh. It was too late to change our minds by then as they had already taken our bags and put them (hopefully) in the back of our bus. The thing with collectivos is that they only leave when its full; we waited another 30 mins.

The bus ride was definitely something. The driver was a maniac. The Spanish couple 2 rows up asked him to slow down on 2 occasions, he didn’t. Not that I thought I was going to die, but a potential crash was on my mind. At one point, we bounced so hard my ipod shuffled songs! Even on roads that were curving up a hill, had double lines in the centre, a line of trucks in front and no visibility ahead, our driver would try overtake. It was like watching a game of hide and seek: our bus would inch out slowly like a kid sticking its head out from behind some furniture, then quickly pop back in if there was oncoming traffic. Repeat until able to overtake. There were some occasions we were heading directly into on coming traffic and the driver wouldn’t merge back into our lane until the very, very last second. I swear the oncoming traffic would have had to slow down for us. Oh and just like every other bus so far, my legs didn’t fit between the seats.

4 hours later we arrived alive in VDL and with our luggage (win!). On the bus we met an Australian lady who was taking a weekend off before working for 3 months in a school near Bogota. She walked with me to my ‘maybe-its-there-maybe-it-was-the-wrong-town hostel. We stopped 3 times for directions and ended up at this shabby nothingness of a place. The old lady didn’t speak English but told me my reservation didn’t exist. It was a campsite/family house: run down, no other guests, no wifi. By that point I was sick of carrying my stuff so we agreed to stay. It was $20 a night which by standards here was about double the normal price. She asked us to pay upfront but didn’t have change so we said we’d go for lunch first and pay the exact amount later.

Marion and I found a place to have lunch and walked around town for what felt like ages trying to find a better place to stay. Eventually we found someone who told me that there are many places called ‘El Solar’ (the hostel I was looking for). Great. Why didn’t anyone mention that before?? When we finally found the place, wow, what a difference! An actual hotel! And the right one that had my reservation from this morning. For half the price as the campsite I would be staying in the centre of town, with wifi and breakfast included in a private room with balcony and bathroom #Luxury.

The next challenge was to go back to the campsite (on the other side of town) and try explaining to the old lady why I didn’t want to stay anymore. Thankfully, with the help of my printed reservation from the real hotel, most of what I tried explaining got across to her and she let us leave without any dramas.

Such a hectic day. I can’t understand why no one bothered to tell us there were multiple places with the same name; even when I had a reservation. Learning from today: don’t just ask one person one thing. You need to ask many people a variety of questions and then you can pick the answer that makes the most sense.

Xx Anni

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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