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Published: January 7th 2014
Again we woke early to the sound of the street hawkers as today is the Three Kings Day and a public holiday here and therefore another opportunity for these people to try to sell their wares. The man directly below us has a guitar, binoculars, some toys and some electrical goods spread on his tarp.
Flo called the Boliviariana bus company for us to arrange a ticket to Cali for the first bus tomorrow morning. It is scheduled to depart at 6:30 am and takes between 8 and 9 hours. We asked to make a reservation and pay for it with a credit card now and collect the ticket tomorrow morning. That was not allowed. We could make the reservation now but we had to come to the bus station to pay for the ticket today, in cash only. There were 12 seats left on the bus that holds 34 persons at the time of our phone call. Or we could come to the bus station tomorrow morning and pay for the ticket by credit card if they had any seats remaining. Reservations, she said, closed two hours prior to departure. (This was the same bus company we used to
get from Medellin to Bogota and we purchased the ticket there by credit card less than an hour before departure.) This is one of the many challenges of traveling in Colombia.
So Flo arranged for a taxi for us to the bus station to pay for and collect our ticket for tomorrow. She asked the taxi to wait for us at the bus station while we conducted our business there and then take us to the suburb of Usaquen where there was a crafts and antiques market. When we got to the bus station the taxi approached two of the security guards there with our request and was told he was not allowed to wait. He had to drop us off immediately and move on or he would be ticketed. We paid him and sent him on to look for another fare.
After buying the bus ticket, we tried to get a local bus to Usaquen. We were shown onto two buses, once by another rider of the bus and the second time by a security man. Both times the bus drivers, even though they were going to the area, would not take us. We expect it was
because they did not want to be responsible for us should something happen.
So we had to go back to the taxi stand and register for a lift to Usaquen. Usaquen is a residential and commercial district in the north part of the city. It boasts restaurants of many ethnicities, including quite a few Italian restaurants, an Irish pub, and a crafts and antiques market of quality hand-made items and very little tat. We strolled in the area for awhile. It was a soft Irish-type day of steady drizzle and we felt right at home.
We managed to get back to the city centre on one of the local buses, a trip of about 10 miles, driven by a certified maniac on wheels. It was straight down 7th
Avenue, which is three lanes most of the way, from 111th
street to 22nd
street. The driver used the entire three lanes for the whole trip. No space was too small for him to squeeze into. It was the maddest bus ride we have ever had. The brakes were screeching and hissing, diesel fumes filled the cabin, the transmission clanged, the entire bus rattled as though it would collapse into
a heap any moment. We just hung on and were delighted to alight near our destination into a steady downpour.
Joan made a delicious pasta dinner for Flo and her partner. They went off to the movies and we were again early to bed to rest and prepare for the long and winding road to Cali tomorrow!
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D MJ Binkley
Dave and Merry Jo Binkley