I am sure many of us have experienced a bus ride or two from hell, or even just a bus that never turned up at all. When this happens on this kind of global adventure of ours, even though it is somewhat annoying, you kind of half expect it, especially in countries with poor transportation infrastructure.
We have beaten many of our own bus travel records in South America over the last few months, which, in the context of the distances we have been travelling, is no mean feat, and when accumulated with back pains, cramped conditions, smelly toilets, it kind of truly tests your overall sanity, well it did for us, and we survived.
Leaving Trujillo in Peru for Quito in Ecuador by night bus with Cruz del Sur, proved to be our best option, the other options were the el cheapo bus which looked like it would not go a gentle uphill or we take the vastly overpriced flight option. Long bus ride it was!
Settling into the top deck of the bus, we were thrilled to discover it was full with all of six people, we smiled and relaxed into our comfortable and spacious, recliners complete with Spanish movies, well actually they are Hollywood Blockbusters dubbed into Spanish with what sounds like the same five Spanish actors. Ahh rest and a comfy seat…..heaven!
Some 27 grueling hours later including border crossing from Peru into Ecuador, we arrived in Quito some 6 hours later than advertised and planned and in total darkness, somewhere in a backstreet in the city. Armed with trustworthy maps.me on the phone, we made our way to a main road and flagged a taxi down for a short ride to our hostel.
There are not many options to get from Quito to Cali in Colombia, our next destination, another 20 hours bus ride or a flight at silly prices again. Ormeno bus had a direct route, so booked the tickets a couple of days before and ready to go on departure day, we waited at the empty office err station, where there was not a single soul!! Getting ready for another surprise, we were relieved to see the Ormeno Office guy turn up who smiled and informed us that the bus was delayed a whole day somewhere in Peru and we could come back the following day! Smiling he was! I had been ringing him for 2 days to confirm exact times, and his phone was not working, yeah really, but he smiled shrugged his shoulders and just wanted to know are were coming back the next day.
The air did not turn blue nor did either of us go ballistic, we just figured out a different route for this journey, negotiated a full refund and set off on a mini adventure making up the next leg pretty much on-the-fly, so to speak.
Here goes a quick recap on our mini-adevnture; left Ormeno bus office and hopped into a taxi for 30 mins ride across Quito to the northern bus terminal, bought tickets for the next bus to Tulcan at the border, headed off on a 5 hour bus ride to Tulcan with Pullman Carachii, hopped into another taxi for 15 mins ride to the border, went through Ecuadorian immigration, walked across the bridge through Colombian immigration, jumped into another taxi for 10 mins ride to Ipiales bus terminal, got tickets 15 mins before departure of the night bus ride of 11 hours to Cali, arrived in Cali and jumped into local taxi, after some messing around and 10 mins later arrived at our apartment, where we were staying for our volunteer project, being greeted by Nicole at 5:00am off to bed for a rest some 20 hours since we set off from Quito. Done and dusted!
The bus ride from Ipiales to Cali was not at all what we expected; it had reasonable luxury, which means no chickens on board, but the driver was drove like a bat out of hell. Now, we had such massive leg room in the seats we thought great, but oh no, the route in the dark through endlessly winding bends, one after another, after another, after another, left and right, downhill and uphill, and no straight road driving. This all translated into us both comically sliding around in our seats, from side to side and back and forth at every bend and because our legs were too short to wedge ourselves on the seat foot rest in front, we just spent the entire 11 hours on a rollercoaster waltzer ride.