Tricky transport

Trip Start Apr 25, 2012
Trip End Sep 06, 2012

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Flag of Colombia  , Cauca,
Friday, May 25, 2012

More or less today's only success was the fact that Pedro sent someone to pick me up and take me to the bus for free. Then I took a jeep to Pitalito with two Dutch people, one of whom was quite appalled at my non-condemnatory views on Cuba. About half an hour later, in Pitalito, I was ambushed by a bus operator who told me that there were no buses direct to Tierradentro and that I had to go via La Plata. This was not too big a deal as some people in San Agustín had said the same. Apparently the only service that connected the three destinations was Bolivariano, and this only left at 2pm. Apparently, if I waited for this, I'd be cutting it fine to catch the Tierradentro bus, which only runs until 5pm. It didn't occur to me to ask how this could be the case if both buses were run and organised by the same company. The guy convinced me that it was best to go to Garzón because buses to La Plata form there left more regularly. I was ushered to a bus and when I asked when it left, he told me "ahorita", I asked him to specify - 50 minutes! The bus operator guy was making a show of being clear and fair because I had said how everyone had been giving me conflicting information. Then another driver jumped in and said he was going to Garzón and leaving sooner, so I went with him but at the time I didn't interpret the looks on the other two guys' faces - as if they wanted to stop me but couldn't find a reason that they could admit to - i.e. they'd lied to me so that the first bus driver could earn a bit more. Anyway, 1 hour 15 minutes to Garzón, and when I got there, I got talking to another bus driver who told me I'd been tricked... Anyway, I got in a taxi with four other people and got to La Plata just before 2pm. The taxi driver and bus driver in Garzón had said that the bus to Tierradentro left La Plata between 2 and 3pm, but when we got to La Plata we found that it had left at 1.30pm. So frustrating!!! I had a go at the taxi driver, who then admitted he hadn't been sure. Why not just say so?! I then had to hang around in La Plata until 4pm. Eventually, a red camioneta to San Andrés pulled up and I set in the open back. At first it wasn't too crowded but by the time it actually left, there were 7 of us. Murphy's law - I was on the side with four people, in between a dirty teenager and a guy with a neckbrace, a machete and quite literally a boob on his arm. There was no bicep, just loose skin and a nipple. "Wacala". And obviously it was on the side touching me. The road was incredibly dusty and quite rough. There was nowhere to hide from the dust and I was covered. About 1 hour 25 minutes later we arrived at San Andrés de Pisimbalá, a small village near the archaeological sites at Tierradentro. The hostel Pedro had recommednded was nearby, thankfully. When I got out, I thought I was in Tierradentro itself, but I walked out and saw an old church with a thatched roof described in Lonely Planet. The hostel was also listed in the guide book, so I finally realised I was in San Andrés. The hostel is called El viajero but is known by everyone as 'donde doña Marta' - in Lonely Planet she's described as "a twinkly-eyed señora who makes you feel like a visiting grandchild". She's pretty old - in her 70s, and I feel bad asking her to do anything for me! She's friendly, though quite formal. I have a room with 2 beds in it, and it's very cheep. The house could do with sprucing up and everything smells faintly funny but there is a hot shower so I'm happy enough. I went out to look at the church and buy food but almost everything was closed! There are also hardly any street lights and it kind of reminds me of Broce (Croatia) in its small town-ness. I returned to the hostel to ask doña Marta to ask if she had any food. All I wanted was left-overs but she made me a fried egg, chips, rice, spaghetti, and tea with bread (count the number of carbs!). This was great as I was starving but surely not sustainable...
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