Pereira, Colombia

We have spent the past three days in Pereira, Colombia. These days feel like coming back home to another part of myself. Something about being outside of the States and traveling puts me at ease. It’s odd that walking through the streets surrounded by unfamiliar sounds and smells should feel like an embrace from an old friend, but it does. Even the traveling SNAFUs have felt oddly familiar.

The first bump in our road began in Chicago where Spirit Airlines refused to print us our boarding passes until we could prove we were leaving Colombia. Even though we pointed out that we all had tickets flying out of Ecuador a few weeks later, this was not good enough. Basically, they forced us to pay $380 for tickets out of Colombia (that we’d never use) in order to “prove” we were leaving (evidently a requirement to pass through customs). This didn’t make sense to me since we could just as easily skip the flight even if we booked tickets. They told us it would be so easy to cancel the tickets once we got to Bogota. They told lies.

All in all, customs never asked us about our travel plans and it took us about two hours of walking, searching, and explaining before anything got done to refund us our money. Oh Spirit, the fact that you charge your customers $10 to have the agents print their boarding passes should have clued us into you business practices. But in the end, we got our money back.

 

That night we boarded a nine hour bus from Bogota to Pereira. Adventure to say the least. The bus was freezing. It got down to at least 45 degrees at one point. Since it’s summer, we weren’t dressed for autumn…inside a bus. So I threw on two extra shirts over my other two layers, popped on my wool socks, wool hat, and wrapped up in my microfiber towel. I would have been comfiest with four more layers of long underwear, but again, didn’t pack it cuz it’s summer. But, at one in the morning we arrived in Pereira and caught a taxi to Bayard’s home.

That morning we went to Bayard’s home church. I’m glad to have taken Latin and Greek in middle school and high school, because it gives me a rough estimation of what’s being said in romance languages. But, I really really wish I had learned a modern language so I could speak with modern people. Needless to say, I knew that they were preaching on Jacob and Israel but not much beyond that.

That afternoon we walked around Pereira for a few hours, ate tasty food, and came back to the house feeling happily exhausted.

That evening we went home and cooked eggs with parmesan, stir fried tomatoes, along with a fresh bread and a garlic butter. Pretty tasty considering we threw it together so quickly.

The next morning had us waking up late. We decided to go out for brunch. After eating (I had stomach soup with avocado, rice, and plantains) we walked around the city for a few more hours.

That night we had planned to embark for Ecuador. Unfortunately, though we had reserved our tickets, the company decided to sell them to someone else and told us we needed to be there three hours earlier (which neither the ticket agent nor the website informed us previously of this crucial tiddly bit). We got back to Bayard’s house that evening, stayed up late laughing and swapping stories and went to bed in the wee hours of the morning.

The next morning found me vibrantly sick with montezuma’s reveng. I took some Cipro and spent the rest of the day traveling between the restroom and my bedroom while the group went out adventuring. I was a little bummed to have missed out on seeing the coffee fields and glass factory, but my body did well with the rest and medicine.

That night we finally boarded our bus to Quito. We took a 13hr bus from Pereira to Ipiales where we planned on crossing the border. Bayard was a little tense about the border since he was traveling on a Columbian passport for minors (and he was no longer a minor) but the embassy in Chicago had assured him all would be well. Unfortunately, this was not the case. After walking back and forth to the customs agents on either side of the Columbian-Ecudorean border, Colombia informed Bayard that he would not be allowed to leave Colombia without a new passport…which would take three days. After a bit of deliberation we all decided that it would be best for Emily and Bayard to stay behind and deal with the nuances of Colombian bureaucracy while the rest of us went on to Quito. Brian, Melanie, Mark and I boarded our final bus. 5hrs from Ipiales to Quito. We arrived into the happy arms of the Edgren family where they fed us hamburgers, fresh tomatoes, chocolate chip cookies, friendship bread and homemade coleslaw.

 

That’s about it for now. I’ll fill you all in on our adventures in the rainforest traversing waterfalls, and wandering Ecudorean markets soon. Be well!