Chiva for a Day

We got up fairly early (for us) and left Tierra Dentro at around 8. We didn’t bother folding up the back seat and Bode continued to sleep as we bumped down the road. Our only plan for the day was to make it south to San Agustín. We knew we would be on the dirt all day, so we had pretty low expectations. We weren’t too far along when we passed a little lady patiently waiting on the side of the road with her hand out.

This is a fairly common sight – especially the farther you go off any main road. We’ve only picked up a few people so far, but they’re always really nice folks. Everyone fully expects to pay the equivalent bus fare to us and we always politely refuse – it’s a good system.

We tell her we’re heading towards La Plata and she jumps in. I have virtually no success communicating with her.

Later, we get to a fork in the road, and since there are absolutely no signs anywhere, I ask her which way to go. She says left – I at least understand this much. A bit later she hops out at a tiny church in an unknown village and we say goodbye.

We continue for another half-hour or so until I start feeling like something isn’t right. Shouldn’t we be on the other side of this river? We get to a pueblo we learn is Paez, and ask a lady who’s eager to help. Nope – we’ve driven north – we need to turn around.

She’s very persistent that we follow her directions precisely, but we’re not sure we understand all of her directions. It involves a bridge, making sure we turn somewhere… our Spanish is still pretty basic.

She seems more worried about us than we are, so she hops in and we ride into the center of town. At the town square, she points out the local chiva bus to La Plata and tells us to either follow it or keep an eye out for it if we think we’re lost. Good advice, I suppose.

On the way out of town we are flagged down by 6 nuns in full habit, but we just can’t do it. We joke that maybe this was help being sent from above. In hindsight, I regret not trying – if not just for the photo opportunity.

We make our way back the way we came, once stopping after a bridge to look back and see the chiva following us over the bridge. Good. We get all the way back to the fork in the road where we had been directed by passenger #1. There’s no chiva bus behind us to cheat this time, but I know this is it and we finally start heading south. The sun finally comes out and it’s a nice day.

This road is crazy. All mud and lot’s of construction equipment for a few hours. Lot’s of landslides. We come up on a group of guys working a landslide and have to wait for them to move all the equipment out of the way. They are moving the mud slide off of the mud road. A few of them took out their phones and took a photo of us gunning it up the messy slope. We were a little too preoccupied to take a single photo this entire stretch of road.

Finally, we make it to La Plata and some pavement. It doesn’t last and we’re back in the mud just a few kilometers outside of town. Just in time for passenger #3. This gentlemen wanted to go to Garzan. It was a few hours away, but it seemed like a good way to go. This guy was chatty and quite a character. He had a wing out the window the entire trip, calling to everyone we drove past. With this, we always knew which direction to go when we encountered a fork in the road.

We came up on more landslides and the road was closed for an hour. More time to chat. We finally let him off at his stop and were on pavement all the way to San Agustín. We arrived just at dusk and in time to pick up really nice Swedish and Colombian girls who just needed a lift up the mountain at the end of town – they knew the finca we were looking for. We struggled up the steep hill – rolled back down for a retry – and finally made it up to the finca at dark.

We were tired, but still a pretty good day’s drive.

Total extra passengers: 5

Total fare collected: 0

3 thoughts on “Chiva for a Day

  • November 17, 2010 at 9:30 AM
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    No photos of the Swedish and Colombian girls?? 🙂

  • November 17, 2010 at 11:40 AM
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    Total exrta passengers: 5

    Total fare collected: 0

    Total experience: Priceless

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