Yesterday was a "does not" kind of a day!
We knew it was going to be a long day and so part of the problem is our fault for not getting an earlier start. 258 kms (160 miles) is only a three hour drive in most of the U.S. or Canada...but here in Colombia you can count on at least double that.
It was almost 10:00am when we made our way from the hostel to the bus in San Agustin. We paid 26,000 pesos ($11.83 CAD) each for a ticket from San Agustin to Neiva. But the bus doesn't actually leave from San Agustin. It's a bit of a goofy system where you buy your bus ticket, then the bus company pays a collectivo taxi to take you to nearby Pitalito terminal where you then get on the bus to Neiva.
We got on the collectivo okay, but we were still late getting to the Pitalito terminal and we missed the 11:15am bus to Neiva. They re-issued our ticket there and the next bus was at 12:45pm. So we had a bit of time to sit and wait, but at least it boarded and departed exactly on time.
But it was a real milk-run bus. Stopped for anybody who wanted to get on or off. Then, we also got stopped at two police check points where everybody had to produce ID and they took the ID and double checked that everything was in order. That took over a half an hour each time.
This guy's paperwork was apparently not in order. They called him off the bus and when we departed one of the police officers had the handcuffs out!
As we dropped in altitude, the temperature rose. No idea how hot it was, but the open windows on the bus wasn't cooling things off very much. It became a very uncomfortable ride. Also, my long legs were cramped up in seating designed for someone well under 6 feet! Not fun.
Ruth had been taking pictures all along the route so far, but she mistakenly hit the video button and wanted to delete it. Then came the second mistake...she went to delete the video and instead deleted all the photos she had taken so far yesterday! So the rest of the photos are only after 3:00pm!
So, here are some of the pics taken out the bus window...
So, although it was a long, hot, stuffy, uncomfortable ride...at least we had some gorgeous Colombian countryside to look at!
We arrived in Neiva at about 5:30pm. Lonely Planet guidebook describes Neiva as "the hot dusty capital of Huila department". It's a big city of about 300,000 people, and there's apparently not much of interest there.
And it was hot...calling for a high of 34C (93F) there today.
I had to find a bank machine because although funds weren't really running low, they said there was an ATM at our destination of Villavieja but "don't count on it to work". So I found a machine at the Neiva bus terminal and withdrew another 300,000 pesos ($137 CAD). That should keep us going until we get to Bogota later this week.
Then, we had to find the collectivo (shared taxi service) to take us to our destination at Villavieja. We found it all right, and got ourselves into the front of the cab. And then we waited. These collectivos often don't leave until they're full and that could take anywhere from ten minutes to two hours!
This guy left fairly quickly, and stopped to pick up some more passengers before we left the city. Then, we had an hour ride to get to Villavieja.
It was almost 8:00pm by the time we pulled up to our hotel in Villavieja (pop 7,000).
We were beat. And hungry. The owners of the hotel seem really nice, and we have a good strong fan in our tiny room. Only cold water in the shower, but that's all we want! It's baking hot here. He directed us to a nearby restaurant and we devoured a good meal. Again, only 15,000 pesos ($6.82 CAD) for the two of us, including an ice cold beer for me and a juice for Ruth.
Not the best of birthdays for Ruth. I'll have to make it up to her when we get to Bogota!
And why are we here? Because the interesting scenery of the Tatacoa Desert is only 6 kms away. If we can drag ourselves out to the heat later on this afternoon, we should have some neat pictures for you tomorrow!
In other news, Canada's national newspaper, The Globe and Mail, published a neat article in their Saturday paper this morning...you should check it out! Here's a link to the online version...
Fantastic deal of the day at Amazon.com...this would make a great Christmas gift...
And it's not often that we see a deal this good on Amazon.ca in Canada. This top rated sewing machine has never been this cheap!...