Published: September 25th 2009September 19th 2009
At the bus station A tout "helped" me find a company that goes to Bucaramanga, Brasilia Expresso, I told the lady I need to leave right away, I asked if there was a 7pm bus, i thought she understood me, she issued me a ticket then I noticed it leaves at 9pm! I did not make my way here in a rush just to wait 2 more hours! So a guy who speaks minimal English helped me out, I asked if there is no earlier departure either from them or another company, he said "no". Ok no choice so i bought a ticket. Since I have time to kill I walked around and this other tout asked me where I am going, i said i have a ticket to Bucaramanga already but I asked him what time his leaves, 7:30pm with Copetrans! I was fooled by Brasilia company! So I went back and complained to them, there was this woman in the counter that just outright told me not possible for refund!! And gave me a mean stare, I lost it on that! I started making a scene and yelling expletives(in English of course), claiming they fooled me in thinking no
other bus goes to Buca and at an earlier time at that too! They were all surprised at my outburst then the English speaking dude came out and tried to calm me down, then he told me he did not know there is a bus from Copetrans leaving earlier, fair enough but I told him you said before to me in affirmative "no" when I asked you, there is a difference between I dont know and no!Meanwhile one of the staff said there is no Copetrans bus leaving at 730pm, mentiras todo!! he exclaimed! I said oh yeah come with me and ask the guy, he refused, wow competition between this people are intense!! They decided they give me money back minus 20%, i stared at him intently, he then said let me talk to my manager, 2 minutes later he gave me my full 70,000 pesos and I hurried to the other company, i paid 50,000 pesos only and gave 10,000 as tip to the touts cause they asked for it and plus for all the trouble...
I have 5 minutes to spare and starving so i got a hotdog which they aptly call here "perro"I told the
woman to rush and she made it in 5 minutes! I ran to the gate and security guys checks all the bags, they even came up the bus and videod all of us one by one in our seats!weird! i got up the bus no one follows the seat assignment , someone was sat at mine so i sat somewhere else, when i got kicked out i have to move into mine, a dude was sat there, i told him amigo, 9 ventana, that's me and stared at him until he moved, man I was on a mean streak tonite.
The bus stops at Barranquilla before moving on to Bucaramanga, we got stopped and checked by military checks 2 times, the locals are annoyed, each time we have to get out the bus, bags checked, leg spread and cupped then show our ids. Finally made it to Barranquilla and my seatmate left. I was able to spread, it was cold as usual, so I put on my warm clothes but not enough so I was freezing once again the whole time! relieved it was daylight i arrived at Bucaramanga and decided to check out Giron for a few hours,
El Gallineral park
I left my luggage at the station then took a local collectivo and got dropped off in the center of Giron 30 minutes later, Nice town, cobbledstones and whitewashed houses, some establishments have labels what they are or sell which I thought was cool, I hiked up a hill to a Jesus statue then got lost purposely enjoying the town, nice church in the plaza too.
As I was walking one of the streets I got accosted by a traffic police, 2 of them and asked to check my bag they opened it and checked my computer which was in there, I got worried, one guy asked for id, I gave him my passport, he paged through them one by one, asking me about every freaking stamp, are you African? no i said i have been to South Africa, that's a visa stamp! You are chinese? No that's my Chinese visa, where are u from? I pointed to the information page in the front of the passport.He found my entry stamp, where is Paraguachon(where i entered) the other dude mumbled something, ahh you crossed from Venezuela he asked me? yes sir i did. He read the entry date and
said you are working here? I said no, turista only, he shook his head, no you are working here! No turista only i insisted!I knew this guys are up to something thank god for the kids who are coming out from school, they walk back and forth on the street and some even sit next to where I am being interrogated, they did not pursue it and gave my passport back, told me to be careful of thieves, I was gonna say like you guys? but I kept my temper. I shook their hands and hurriedly left the town, took the next bus out and to the terminal!
The bus ride to San Gil took about 2 hours and I fell asleep quickly on the small bus, when I woke up the view was stunning, we went up on zigzag roads and passed a Nacional Park whose name I cant recall starts with a C. Anyway I was dropped off in the outskirt of town, took a taxi and it dropped me at Macondo Hostel ,nice cool hostel, Jesse the nice receptionist checked me in. Met the people staying there, all seems very friendly. The town itself is quite
nice and chill, the main plaza is below, we are uphill. I want to walk to the market to buy food to cook, On the 2nd block down I noticed that my pants was ripped from behind! Hurriedly went back and canged, that was the last of tha pair of pants, I am retiring it.
At the market it was almost closing around 3pmish, I was looking for some veggies, the old woman told me to come back tomorrow early. I managed to find something to cook. Enrique, my Mexican roomate and I shared the food, I cooked he washed the dishes. That night I went out with the group of people from the hostel, Lizzie and Cath from UK, Cath from Philippines/Australia, my roommate John from Arkansas and Johnny and Mary from Ireland, have to write their names so I dont forget them. We sat in the plaza and had a few shots of rum and coke plus beer, couple hours later we decided to head to a bar. The plaza is buzzing with young people chilling on a Friday nite.
But come midnite it got quiet, we went to a salsa club with 2 local dudes,
it was a lot of fun, then called it a night, the girls enjoyed dancing with the locals. Off to bed. The next morning after I walked down to the ATM machine with the 2 Caths and Lizzie I said goodbye to them, they are off to Valle de Leyva, I went to a park where they those odd looking trees with beards growing on them. Came back to hostel then decided to do a day trip to Barichara. I found the local bus terminal the trip took a good half hour and the view is spectacular, gorgeous valleys. We arrived in this quaint town.
Everyone was having a siesta it seems, the park is littered with people taking a nap as we got dropped offf at the plaza. The only thing going on is a wedding at the church, I went for a walk and quickly enjoyed the relaxed, deserted type atmosphere, the roads are made of this rectangular blocks of stones and much easier to walk on than cobblestones. The houses are whitewashed and the doors and windows painted in different colors, mostly greens and blues, It is such a lzy town, so cool and relaxed I
thought i could live here! 2 hours walking I got tired and sat at the plaza while waiting for the bus, John my roomie from Arkansas showed up, he did a day walk to a small village, he said it was fantastic.
We caught the bus back to town, we cooked some pasta for dinner, we had too much so we gave the rest to the French couple. I slept very well that night quite tired. The next day I left for Villa de Leyva, the bus dropped me off at Tunja, it was rather cold here up in the mountains, I was let off at a roundabout and got pointed where buses leaves for Villa but I got worried there was none so i asked a local how to get to the terminal and form there I took a bus straight to Villa. It was a nice ride about half hour and got dropped off in the terminal then took a taxi to Colombian Highlands,nice house in the outskirts of town. Met Kyle from Texas and Johnny from France, they just arrived as well and we agreed to hang out together to town. Met the girls Lucy and
Cath and we are having BBQ tonight so we have to get to town and buy food.
Good BBQ took ages to cook the veggies though, the spinach saute I made got raided by the girls and was finished before the meals started. We bought good longanisas and some cuts of meat. Everyone was hungry! After the meal we all went to bed early. The next morning me; Kyle, Johnny and Anika from Sweden decided to head to town to rent out bikes to explore the area, the girls Lucy and Cath were already on their way having rented the bikes from the hostel they only have 4! Took us ages to get the bikes ready, pumping air in the wheels and adjusting the seats etc, Johnny fixed some bikes for them so he got it free we all paid 18,000 each for 6 hour rent. The ride was nice, good scenery, we stopped at Pozo Azul but cant swim there, to the Fossil museum which I thought was cool and some weird house where a guy wanted us to pay 5,000pesos each for a tour we begged off and to the Archeological place where they have phalluses! It
was closed though, I have to walk the bike several times as my legs were tired, Kyle did some as well.
When we finished we had a good but expensive lunch at Casa Blanca, i had the trout, it was good, Johnny finished all of our leftovers! We called him garbage disposal for that. soon as we said goodbye to Anika we went to hike this hill to get to the Jesus statute, a bit difficult with a full stomach, we evntually got to the top and we met a family with small kids there at there at the top and the woman was even pregnant! puts us to shame really, we got down before it got dark and shopped for dinner.
I slept very well that night was so tired and the next morning we did a short hike up to a trickling waterfall, took 2 hours and then we took the bus to Bogota, me Cath and Lucy we said goodbyes to the rest who are left there in the hostel.
There are more photos below