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PERU | Saturday, 25 October 2008 | Views [1072]

In a garden just outside Yuly's house

In a garden just outside Yuly's house

It's starting to scare me a little that danger seems to keep following me everywhere. It started in the Amazon, when a poisonous snake slithered in between my legs, then I was held up by men with guns in Guayaquil, then the neighbours of the house I was staying in (in Guayaquil also) were robbed by men with guns, and then finally I was in a bus crash in Quito the other day. The driver accidently fell asleep and smashed into the median strip, ripping off one fifth of the bus' shell. I wasn't hurt, but it was strange how the bus was full of people one minute, and then, when I was the only passenger left, it crashes!! 


I had left Guayaquil for Quito, which cost me $9 and took 7 hours. I was staying with a guy named Filipe, who is friends with Kahyda (the woman I stayed with in Guayaquil). When I first met him at her house a few weeks ago, he was heading off to some sort of political meeting. I ended up finding out that the meeting consisted of all the ex-presidents from around Latin America! Filipe was kind enough to show me around Quito before I took off for Colombia. 


Yesterday morning I went to the main terminal to get a $4.50 bus to Tulcan, which is near the Colombian border. I was so happy and quite proud of my Spanish skills after one man in the terminal thought I was from Chile!! The young guy sitting next to me was really nice, and once we got off the bus, he helped me exchange money and get a cheap bus across the boarder instead of a taxi. The line for Colombian immigration was ridiculously long, but finally I made it into the country. I caught another bus that was supposed to take me to Cali, but as the guy on the previous bus warned me, I may not be able to enter Cali after 8pm because of indigenous protests.


It took about 8 hours to get to Popayan, and here, everyone on the bus was told that Cali was blocked and that we wouldn't be able to enter until the next day. It was about 10pm at night, and so most of the people just stayed in the bus and slept. Luckily, I had made friends with two Colombian people named Neyla and Gustavo, who invited me to stay in Neyla's cousin's house for the night. Everyone was so nice and welcoming, and I ended up getting a pretty good night's sleep before the three of us hopped onto another bus the next morning, which took us to Cali within two hours. In total, the buses from Quito to Cali cost me 33,000 pesos, which is about $14 USD. 


Neyla and Gustavo, after inviting me to their houses near Cali, helped me to get in contact with the girl I had arranged to stay with (Yuly), and told me where to get off the bus to wait for Yuly's mother, who was going to pick me up. It looked a bit dangerous where I was supposed to wait, so Gustavo spoke to a group of police officers, and asked them if I could wait with them for a bit. So there I was, on the side of the road with a bunch of cops, with no idea where I was, waiting for someone I didn't know to come and pick me up. 


Yuly's mum arrived with a friend after about 10 minutes of me telling silly jokes to the police officers, which I had learnt from a friend in Guayaquil. She took me to her huge house that is near the mountains, and is surrounded by trees, rivers, and guarding police. I feel totally safe. Her maid cooked us some lunch, and later, I cuddled with her black Labrador dog and Siamese cat for a while.

The house is extremely beautiful here, is filled with interesting and brightly coloured flowers, and is full of Yuly's mothers paintings. The floral smell hit me as soon as I walked through the door. Yuly finally came to the house and was as friendly as ever. She told me a bit about her life as a phsycologist for children, which was very interesting.

The next day Yuly showed me around the city of Cali, in which I found quite a few things very interesting. There are stars painted on the roads from where pedestrians have been run over and have died... this is a campaign to remind the people here to be careful when crossing the roads or when driving. There were young kids at the traffic lights wacking car tires with wood to check the air levels for money from the drivers, and I noticed that motor bike riders not only had their numbers on their bike's plates, but also on the back of their jackets and helmets.



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