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On the Bus

COLOMBIA | Monday, 2 January 2006 | Views [817]

I gather however that Europe is undergoing some record breaking artic conditions. Well what a drag. The worst is probably saving itself for my return. In Atlantico it has been predictably hot. Scorchio. It's virtually unchanging at the moment. We might have a few wisps of clouds when the sun comes up but they blow away and every day turns into the same furnace as the day before. The best time is from just after it get's light until about ten in the morning as the earth slowly warms. The temperature is ideal and with just enough of a breath of wind to make everything cool and fresh. Yesterday I went on my first trip out of Atlantico, a two hour trip to Cartagena de Indias in the department of Bolivar. It was my first trip with a long distance coach here. I say long distance because they to not ply the same route every day back and forward but just head off on a long stint during which they are away from home for weeks on end. They might start with Cartagena to Barranquilla, which is two hours, then set off for Bogota which is a further ten hours. Then on to Bucaramanga which is a further day or so, then Medellin then Cali etc. They send money back to their family along the way. We were at the bus station at six for the first bus. I got my beer goggles on for the trip, expecting the worst for a five dollar ticket but was soon to be amazed. The seating is as luxurious as the royal class on an airliner with bags of leg room. T.V. air-conditioning, toilets. At regular check points they shout out for food and a nimble chap jumps on board while the bus is still moving, with a few buckets full of fresh, hot empanadas,arrepas, cold drinks and beers, to alight again when his buckets are empty. This is certainly the way to travel around the country. Despite the fact there have been reports of problems and robberies on the buses, this is largely a question of which bus company you choose. We travelled Brasilia on the way there and Copetran on the way back.The colombians seem to have a quick scope of the bus park before buying their tickets to check out the make and condition of bus that the companies are running to their desination before buying a ticket. They balance up the comfort and the price.   There might be five or six running the same route and the better ones have stringent security checks, with the police present while the passagengers are boarding, checking bags and doing body searches for weapons. The buses only stop at registered stopping points along the way to pay toll or at police check points. They do not take on passengers between departure and destination.
Cartagena is amazing place but that's for the next post.
Footnote: (In Cartagena I saw some really nice buses that are running on an over-nighter to Venezuela. Definitely one to file away for future reference. If anyone has any experiences of this route I'd be glad to hear about them.)

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