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On the road to Colombia

Time for the next step, after more than 2 months in Ecuador, I'm going to Colombia.
I had booked a flight ticket Quito to Bogota some time ago because many people told me that it's very dangerous to cross the border by bus, especially for a white girl alone.. But 2 days before flying I discovered that my reservation had been cancelled due to some credit card issue. What to do? Doing another booking would cost me a hell amount of money... No choice but going by bus!
Then I went to the bus terminal and baught a ticket to the Ecuadorian border for the next day. The bus leave at 5am. Good.
The next day at 4:20am, I reach the bus terminal. It's a bit early it seems, nobody is there and everything is closed... Hope I'm at the good place.. 4:35am, a woman arrive with her 3 kids. Cool, I'm not the only one...
We wait. 4:45am, 5am, nothing, 5:15am, nothing,...6am, nothing and nobody...6:30am, still nothing... We just wait, what else can we do. At 6:35am, the woman, who sold me the ticket, arrive. She tells us that the bus will come at 7am... We are furious.
Indeed, it comes. It's full, dirty, smelly but anyway it's only 5 hours to Tulcan, the city nearest to the border.
After 2 hours, we get stopped for our first police check. They want to see our ID. They catch 2 colombian guys who seem not to have immigration papers. The police officer ask them to get down and an active discussion starts outside. From my seat I watch the scene. Suddenly one of the colombian guy get a 50US$ bill from his pocket and hand it discretly to the officer.. the discussion continues a bit and they get back in the bus...
We continue our way through beautiful green mountains, the landscape is breath taking. I'm getting sleepy. I take a short nap... When a big explosion wakes me up! The passengers yell: "Stop! Stop!". The driver hasn't heard anything in his cabin, probably having the salsa playing too loud... He finally stops after 3 minutes.
One of the tire had exploded.
Calmly he get down and change the tire with the co-pilot, the passengers watch the scene and laugh. We stay there, in the middle of nowhere, for 2 hours.
We finally reach Tulcan at 1:30pm.
From there, we have to take a taxi to the immigration checkpoint, get our stamp, then walk to Colombian checkpoint, get another stamp and take another taxi to the nearest Colombian city, Ipiales. In Ipiales, we can catch a bus to any city in Colombia.
But...it's bad luck...the road to the border is closed, because of a demonstration, until middle of the afternoon. When is "middle of the afternoon"? Nobody knows. We are many to want to cross. I meet 2 peruvian guys and we decide to have lunch together while waiting for "the middle of the afternoon". They are doing business with Colombia and one of them is going to Cali, like me. We will do the journey together.
We take lunch and wait, wait and wait. It's 4pm when a taxi driver gets out of his car and yell: "It's open!". We jump and go. Everybody is rushing and we find hugh queues at both immigration checks, it takes us almost 2 hours to get both stamps.
Then my new peruvian friend and me take a taxi to Ipiales. There he goes to look for a bus and bargain while I watch the bags. As gringa I've no chance to get a good price. He finds us a very good deal in a small van.
We leave at 6:30pm.
The bus drives at 90km/h through small, bumpy and curvy mountain roads playing a bad quality Indiana Jones DVD on its tiny TV. Impossible to sleep. I'm dead tired.
It's midnight. The old woman who was sitting on the trash bin in the corridor had probably enough of the curves and vomit all her dinner on other passengers. Now it smells deep fried pork in the bus.
2am. I manage to take micro naps between 2 bumps. When the colombian army stop us. They seem to be looking for weapons or drug. They point their lamp at us and ask all men to get down for a thorough body check. One soldier seem to be intrigued by me. He keeps his lamp at my face: "Are you from Colombia?". No, I answer a bit scared. "Your passport please." "Where are you from" he says seriously. "Francia". "Ahh, Bonjour! Bienevenue en Colombie! Je parle francese"... "Ahh, Merci", I answer relieved...
We continue our way to Cali. We reach the city of Salsa at 4am. I take a taxi to the hotel and go to sleep.
I'm in Colombia!!!!!



7 comments:

There is no Plan B said...

omy ly-ly, you b careful. so glad FRANCOPHILES exist everywhere in the world!!!! You are a great ambassador for your country. Sweet. love you. Suz

Jagan said...

Hello Miss, wishing you a merry Xmas and Happy New Year. You should have got Nat Geo or Discovery to sponsor your trip and make it into a documentary :)

Anonymous said...

You MUST have adventure!!!!
TAKE CARE. Lots of good luck!!!!
Tingting

Cedric and Lauke said...

Hi Lydie,

your blog is starting to become a great little novel where your friends are checking almost everyday what is your next fascinating adventure.
Hope you had a happy christmas.
Take care
Cedric and Lauke

Em said...

Wow Ly-ly.

Good Luck in Columbia. That would be a bit annoying i think to see all that waiting and checkpoints. but good story material!

em

Cécile said...

Hello Lydie,

I hope you had an happy Christmas.
And I wish you a wonderful new year 2010, full of exploring and meeting.

It seems to be very difficult to go from one place to another in South America.
Take care of you, lucky beautiful Frenche girl!
I still hope I will join you somewhere.

Bisous.

Nicolas said...

Hi Lydie,

great story :-) These kind of rides are not easy but thats what you will keep in memories, that means travelling...
I wish you a Happy New Year and want to thank you for your hospitality that time in Singapore. I enjoyed it to talk with you, to experience chinese food, to photograph feet a.s.o....
Stay the way you are!!
Besos
Nicolas

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About me

About me

Travelling to learn, learning to travel.