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Good Start in Colombia

Ipiales, Colombia

The bus from Quito arrived on time and getting stamped out of Ecuador was quick and easy; actually they print on your passport using a dotmatrix printer, rather than stamping, but it was trouble-free. Then I walked over the river to the Colombian side where there was a queue I estimated would take about fifteen minutes. In fact I think this was the slowest moving border queue of the whole trip and it took over an hour for me to get my entry stamp, which took all over ten seconds. The problem is that the locals need piles of documents to get out of the country, and the exit queue is the same as the entry queue. I suppose they are able to cross into Ecuador with only a identity card and no passport, but this means bringing a briefcase full of supporting letters and certificates.

I had changed enough of my "Ecuadorian" US Dollars at the border to pay for a collectivo to the town of Ipiales which is the first settlement after the border. Here I reckoned I could draw money from an ATM and pay for my bus Cali. Unfortunately, the border had taken so long that the day time buses had all departed, which meant I would have to get an overnight bus and waste the money already paid to reserve a room in a Cali hostel. I needed lunch after all that travelling, so I asked for salchipapas at a cafe in the bus station, because I had seen it everywhere in northern Peru and Ecuador and not tried it. I assumed it would be spicy sausage like salchicha and insisted I defintely wanted it when the girl behind the counter said it would take ten minutes. Meanwhile I went out to ask more companies about transport to Cali. I found one desk where they were selling minibus tickets, leaving at 4pm, which was twenty minutes time, but it wasn't supposed to be arriving until 4am. I couldn't understand this because the guide book said Cali was eight to ten hours from Ipiales by bus, so I asked the man why it wasn't arriving at 1am or 2am. He said that yes, it was possible we would arrive then, but he doesn't want to tell me that time, when there is also a chance we won't arrive until 4am; he didn't want to lie to me and make me angry, he said. What?! After Peru I couldn't believe what I was hearing. So I bought a ticket and rushed back to the cafe to eat my salchipapas, which was disgusting: the sausage was hotdog and the chips weren't even nice, but I didn't care because it was cheap and I was starving.

I rushed to the bus and I was off again. So much travel, and this time so little space: a man and his small son were both sitting in the seat next to me.

permalink written by  The Happy Couple on December 22, 2009 from Ipiales, Colombia
from the travel blog: Michael's Lonely post-Honeymoon
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