Change of scene
Trip Start Sep 28, 2011
333Trip End Ongoing
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"I can't believe you're leaving" trills Diana from behind the reception desk. Nor can I. The hostel foyer is empty as I heave my bags around me and lift my guitar, leaning against the gate waiting for the taxi. It comes, I get in it, and within minutes I'm standing outside the Southern bus terminal, wandering around gaping at signs to the sounds of a Zumba class in full flow.
Once again an attendant insists on talking Spanish at me, even though I've said I don't understand. I'm trying to locate a bus to Manizales, but I'm concerned that they're trying to sell me an express ticket mini bus, rather than the cheaper coach version. I manage to find what I'm looking for via the tried and tested method of pointing and nodding. It leaves at 11am, as I missed the earlier one while scoffing the closest thing to an English breakfast I've had in months. It even had black pudding. I think.
I'm sitting twiddling a few strings on the guitar when a youth stands from his seat, approaches, and takes another seat closer to me. I'm used to this happening, but sometimes (most of the time) I do just want to be left alone. As I lower the instrument, I'm ready for the 'si, si', response before the question is asked, and let the kid pick Smoke On The Water while I read a book I found in the hostel about the brain. It's called The Brain. The simplicity appealed to me. I'm hoping to discover something about mine. Within a few minutes I'm totally lost and I give up. My brain is elsewhere. Perhaps back with friends, perhaps a little homesick, but most likely because today was Mums birthday. I whisper many happy returns when my head rests against the coach window, and close my eyes.
I shift uneasily in my seat and discover a nauseous feeling an hour or so later. The driver is throwing the vehicle into mountain bends with their usual wild abandon and apparent disregard for human life. I would suggest a travel sickness pill for Colombian roads. There never seems to be a straight highway where you can just gun it and lie back to enjoy a smooth ride. Having said that, the scenery from the window is breathtaking, and nothing less than I have come to expect from this country. I only wish we could pull over in certain spots to take some stunning photographs.
The road continues to twist ever up into the clouds and suddenly from out of nowhere a city appears. With first impressions Manizales seems to share similarities with Medellin, a sprawling urban mass tucked in the basin of surrounding mountains. But on approach, it's more like a collection of towns nestled into the hillsides, so much so it's difficult to actually be able to call it one city. Drawing closer, the buildings have more of a modern edge to them, and the streets dart and wind up steep inclines into suburbia. Jumping into a cab, I'm treated to a white knuckle rally ride through a Scalextric track, a seemingly unfathomable labyrinth of narrow streets and turns. My driver has purchased a racing steering wheel for his little KIA, and he sports a broken arm. At least I'm not going to die in Medellin.
I am however staying at another Pit Stop hostel. This one not even close to being as good as the last one, but perhaps this is for the best. The place is dead, and I'm treated to a dorm room which is more like a private. With not a soul in sight, I'm left to both rue and be thankful of my new situation. Apparently there was a devastating party last night, 10am finish, police involved. It's a damn good job I missed it.
I book a coffee plantation tour for the early morning and after a horrible hamburger from a greasy spoon I retire to bed. It's 7.30pm. I fall asleep to the faint sounds of a discussion regarding psycho ex girlfriends. It makes me feel a little more at home.