Fun on la línea

Yesterday I left Girardot. The last weeks have been a bit of an emotional roller coaster, farewelling my beloved Maija and other special people, packing up the hunny pad (our cute sauna apartment), getting through end of year school activities and reporting, and of course, saying goodbye to my dear students.

With that stress level in mind, I would like to now walk you through the ridiculousness I experienced on the day I left Girardot.

I have about 5 days left in Colombia before I go off travelling for a few months, so obviously I have a few special people around the country to say goodbye to. The first of these stops is Armenia.

Getting to Armenia requires a 2 hr bus ride to Ibague, a bus change, then, on a good day, a 3 hour ride on the winding road known fondly as “la línea”. Yesterday was not a good day.

Approx one hour out of ibague, and we come to a halt. Luckily I had a cheeky bus driver who zoomed past the entire looooong queue of trucks and cars to the front of the fila.

There we waited for four hours. I kid you not, four whole hours. Turns out a truck carrying dangerous chemicals had rolled over, so nobody could pass or we might inhale and, I guess, die.

So wait we did. Something about Colombians is that they are incredibly, impressively patient. Everyone I talked to said the same thing “es mejor llegar bien y tarde que no llegar” (it’s better to arrive well and late than not arrive). At first I wanted to scream in their faces NO ITS NOT IVE GOT PLACES TO BEEEEE! But eventually realised my bad attitude would get me nowhere and adopted their same patient attitude, which I have been practising so so often here in Colombia.

Once I relaxed, the four hours flew by. That’s an exaggeration but really, it wasn’t so bad. I ate a whole mango with my hands, I watched a horse sleep, and I made friends with two old guys, one who told me that even though I’m mona (fair/blonde/foreign), I’m almost “normal”, just not my eyes.

This is not the first time I’ve been stopped for hours at a time on a road in the middle of nowhere in Colombia. My favourite thing is that there are typically about 3 (at least) false alarms, where people think that we are about to get moving again. Obviously by this point everyone is out of their vehicles mingling on the street. Then suddenly everyone starts sprinting to their vehicles like a herd of antelopes, turn on their engines, sit for about 10 mins in anticipation, then turn off their cars and start mingling again. It’s quite a spectacle.

4 false alarms later, we finally got going. We were advised by the police that when we drove past the scene, to have the windows up, and the aircon off to avoid the fumes. Of course everyone in the van also covered their mouths with their shirts. And naturally I just sat there cracking up because what is my life.

Anna

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