Shake, rattle and roll

Trip Start Sep 28, 2011
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Trip End Ongoing


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Flag of Colombia  ,
Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Little do we know we're going from the sublime to the ridiculous that almost makes the purity of yesterday obsolete.  Waking early, we both make the executive decision to go right back to bed.  Partly due to how tired we are, partly due to a sore saddle arse.  We're walking like John Wayne to breakfast when we eventually decide to surface.  The very simple plan is to return to Popyan and then push for the border town of Ipiales, making Ecuador in the next couple of days.  What we're not prepared for is the nightmare journey back the way we came.

Opting for a bus at 2pm, we're still parked by a San Agustin roadside at 3.30.  The fear starts to take hold as we realise we're the only people in this little, somewhat unmarked minibus.  Surely we should be in a similar transport as the one we arrived in?  It's a long wait until our driver turns up wearing what appears to be an official coach company uniform.  In gets his mate riding shotgun, and we finaly set off in what we can only hope is the right direction.

It isn't.  I've fallen asleep for half an hour yet wake to find just myself and Paddy alone in the vehicle parked off the road at some random roundabout near what we think is Pitalito.  The driver and his buddy are nowhere to be found, and after what seems to be an hour he comes sprinting up in the rain without his uniform shirt on.  Paddy and myself are both raging, but we can't make head nor tail of what is going on.  Further alarm bells are ringing when he removes the 'Popyan' sign from the windshield.  Paddy's knife is out, and my pepper spray rests within arms reach between our two seats.  We're ready to take on FARC.

The thing with these companies, is nobody tells you anything.  At home a driver would stand up, enter the aisle or turn around from his seat and inform the passengers we'd be having a ten minute break outside Watford Gap.  Then the Mega bus would break down and you'd be stranded for three hours eating a plastic ham sandwich and a bag of pork scratchings.  Here, and indeed throughout Centre and South America, I've had experience where they'll just pull over to the roadside and think nothing of jumping out to buy a new table and chairs.  Meanwhile you're crossing your legs on board wondering if you've got enough time to visit the john, while with each ticking moment you realise you've left it too late, and your choices are watching the bus drive off with all your stuff or pissing yourself.  A little courtesy would go along way.

After some further speculation, we're convinced he's been told to travel down this way to get more fares, hence the wait back in San Agustin.  Most buses only go when they're full, so if you're unlucky enough to arrive too early you could be in for a long wait.  Apparently he's going to cut a 7 hour journey down to 4, all on THAT road.

It's agony.  Sheer agony.  Whether it's the constant bounce and lurch of the vehicles failing suspension, or repeatedly climbing to altitude, but I've one bastard of a headache and no painkillers.  By now it's also nightfall, and we're on a route that we didn't want to be on when it's dark.  Trying to maintain an alert state of focus with a jackhammer behind the eyes is near impossible.  I have no idea how that crap mini bus managed to make it back to Popyan without ripping itself apart.  If the wheel can fall off my Peugeot 206 sitting at a red light on Pollokshaws road then surely this afterthought of transport will collapse doing 50 over moon craters.  It is with so much relief that we make it back alive into a quiet bus station.

There is little time to do anything else save stalk people on facebook, play chess and watch porn.  I'm so tired from the stress of the day I don't manage any, crash into a welcome bed, and fall asleep convinced my bones are still rattling from the potholes. 

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