January 8 (still), 2020
The ride from Irra to Manizales was up a lot,
hard and not very fun. Heavy traffic, dusty and hot. It took
until after dark to arrive.
I do like this city. It is worth the effort. Not sure why, it just feels comfortable. The people are giving, smile a lot and offer a closeness. It is cooler here, just enough to ask you to go out and enjoy the air.
It is Feria. Fireworks, street booths, dancing, bands and lots of people. I stopped a taxi and asked him to take me to El Centro and la feria. He told me to take the cable, it was much cheaper. Think about a taxi driver telling anyone that.
Following the taxi drivers advice, I took the cable car to the main part of town, which is much higher than my motel. It seems that many cities in Columbia have cable car systems as part of their metro. With all of the large hills and mountains, It is how people get around.
On that subject of honesty of the taxi driver, honesty is a real thing in Columbia. The other day, while standing on a corner, fishing around in my pockets I dropped my credit card. I man tapped me on the shoulder and pointed to it, asking if it was mine. Wow, can you imagine that happening in any city? When I shared this story with my friend in Bogota he had a similar one! Not the image that we have of Columbia via our media.
Called Steve in Bogota and arranged for him to meet me at the bus station when I arrived. An 8 hour bus ride is not something to look forward to but I wanted to spend a little time with Steve and Mary in Bogota before he went to Ashland for business.
Walk to the bus station, compro me boleta for 8 AM tomorrow and back to my motel to write a little before dinner. Did I say I like this city? The motel staff has been super friendly, giving me a bigger room for my bicycle and stuff on the first floor. They tell me not to order this or that because it is too much or it is a local dish that might take getting used to. Just so giving.
Show up at the bus station an hour early and again the people are great. A young man comes out from behind the glass enclosed counter to help me with the bicycle. No, I do not have to disarm my bicycle it can be put on the bus with the bags on it, he tells me. Disarm in this case means to disassmble. In a few minuets I am sitting at a table in the food court eating my breakfast and drinking coffee in complete comfort and peace.
The bus arrives and the driver loads my bike,
standing up in the basement of the bus. We are given a
headset for the music and movies shown on the seat back
screens. The seats are wide and comfortable. Off we go, in
The terrain of Columbia is wonderful. As the bus climbs out of Manizales the mountains and valleys are revealed. I almost wish I had ridden. Almost as the bus takes over a half hour to crest the first climb. That would be over half a day on the bike and we have a few more climbs to get over this chain of the Andes. The wish goes away as I take a sip of my cold orange juice and turn on a children’s movie. I watch these to learn Spanish.
We go on and on as the scenery gets better and better. Soon I realize that am watching a Disney movie out the bus window, as this just cannot be the real Columbia. And if it is, it not possible for the next lush green mountains to be better than the last, but they are.
We stop for lunch in a town just on the other
side of a large river. I learn that the pedestrian bridge
that I see just down river was the original bridge and was
build in the US and emailed here. Well, maybe not emailed,
shipped here, maybe with Amazon Prime.
Back to the ever changing road. Now about 3 hrs left. Bogota is about 8000 feet and Manizales about 7000, not much difference except when you know how much you gain and loose along the way. Up and down, up and down, up and down, dizzy yet? No, up and down, up and down, up oh well you understand.
Soon Steve is standing at the door of the bus welcoming me to Bogota and their hospitality.