The Metropolitan Cathedral in Chisinau, Moldova. Photo taken December 5, 2016.
Where are Kevin and Ruth right now? Chisinau, Republic of Moldova.

Where are they going next? Transnistria. The country that doesn't exist!

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Travel day! San Agustin to Villavieja, Colombia.

You never quite know what to expect on a travel day. Sometimes everything goes smoothly, and other times it does not.

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!...




22 comments:

  1. That is a wonderful article...you should be proud of the live you're living! Thank you for all the pictures!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Kay! And, yes we are happy to be living this life rather than just dreaming about doing it.

      Delete
  2. The collectivos don't seem very expensive. Rather than waiting up to two hours, can you simply pay the driver for the empty seats?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Now Dugg, that wouldn't be the frugal way of doing things though, would it??

      However as we were sitting there, the thought did cross my mind!!

      Delete
  3. You guys are celebrities now! That's a fantastic article! Looking forward to seeing what the desert looks like.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Well I think celebrities would be pushing it just a little. ;-) However we are very happy with how the article came out. Hope you enjoy the desert photos in today's post.

      Delete
  4. "'Our number one goal in life is to never spend another winter in Canada,' says Ruth." Agreed, I would trade it for Colombian swelter any day---and I'm not even Canadian lol

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Agreed! We would definitely rather sweat than freeze, however we really enjoy the middle ground the best. :-)

      Delete
  5. Nice article - doing it your way - awesome way to enjoy life!

    ReplyDelete
  6. Loved the article. Sorry Ruth's birthday was underwhelming, but hopefully you can celebrate soon!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Emily!

      I can't always have an exciting birthday! ;-) It may not have been the best but I still enjoyed it.

      Delete
  7. He owes you, Ruth! I hope you've still got a wonderful birthday celebration coming! Loved the article.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Not really, Kevin really was the one that had the bad day. We did make the decision though, to not make our birthdays travel days in the future.

      Delete
    2. That's a good idea. Travel days tend to be stressful days. You two always manage to figure it all out somehow.

      Delete
    3. We try to break the travel days up so that we aren't having having real long days but sometimes there is nothing you can do about it. We have met a few people that have done 10 hour bus rides at night. Not only are they missing out on the beautiful scenery they are also missing out on some of the little towns and their hidden gems like the Tatacoa Desert.

      Delete
  8. Kevin, I checked the weather for Cabri today. It´s -8C. Which would you prefer? ;)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Chris, I think you know the answer to that one! :-) However that heat hasn't been helping his rash.

      Delete
  9. How the rash Kevin, especially with the heat. Hope it has all cleared.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Unfortunately that hasn't really been much improvement, in fact now his forearms and lower legs are swollen. We will be seeking out a doctor in Bogota.

      Delete

We love hearing from you! Please take the time to leave a comment...