The three smell bus ride

by Alex on May.30, 2009, under Blog

So I’m in Cali airport after my three consecutive flights for less than the cost of taking only the first one – no idea what that’s all about. Shocked at the cost of a cab, considering I’m in Colombia, I get a colectivo (like a minibus) into town for just over a quid – that’s more like it.

At first I thought I was bearing witness to the perfect fart. I guess that’d be a bit like the perfect storm only with a little less death and destruction, and no water involved – hopefully.
I knew though that the likelihood of me being present at an arsequake measuring 10.0 on the rectum scale was so very low, it had t be hydrogen sulphide – rotten egg smell, the stuff that stink bombs are, or at least used to be made of. I’ve no idea where it came from, I once heard that catalytic converters produce a little HS but shirley not on this scale – lovely.

Then came what must have been a dog biscuit factory, not wholly unpleasant but a little sickly, and quite doggy. We drove past a fully armoured water cannon cum troop carrier type vehicle – a reminder of where I was and what goes down here. And then something I’ve not seen for a long long time, in fact since the last time I was here – motorbike taxis. Now as you might expect, driving here is not the safest. People tend to make lanes for themselves and I’d guess that drink-driving is rife. I’ve no idea as to the average life expectancy of motorbike taxistas but I’d guess it a lot lower then the average for the country. I think you’d have to be mental to get on one, or actively seeking to put an end to it all.

Then the brewery, that lovely sweet smell of… what is it? Molasses? Hops? I really don’t know but find it quite a homely smell – I’m not sure why as I’ve never lived in or near enough to a brewery to smell it, maybe it’s my penchant for beer coming through…

And then the taxi debacle. Being a wise old traveler I asked three people how much I should pay from the bus terminal to the hostel, so as to try and avoid the almost inevitable gringo tax. But, apparently there was no need. For about ninepence the lovely girl at the taxi stand takes the address of where you wish to go, and gives you a print out of that address along with how much it costs to get there along with details of any night tariff or extras that you might need to pay. 3,600 pesos was to be my bill, a little over a pound. So I give this to the cabby and we eventually get there after going the wrong way a bunch of times. And he tries to charge me 8,000. What’s that all about? I show him the print out and I’m told that that is the minimum tariff. Oh great, good job that I’m stupid then. What the hell would be the point in giving you minimum tariff information to which the taxista could add at his leisure – that would negate the whole exercise of providing a service to ensure that you don’t get ripped off. He wasn’t really understanding this nor the fact that I wasn’t going to pay extra for him not knowing where he was taking me and driving all over the shop before getting here. With Germanic efficiency, Gunther, the guy who runs Hostal Pelican Larrys got on the case, backing me up and then calling some local transit agency to sort out the driver. Thanks Gunther. I still ended up paying 4,500 which included a night tariff that according to the print out wasn’t needed. Whatever, quite the shambles but again I’m not surprised – with all its beauty, cheapness and freedom from oppressive anti-litigative ‘health and safety’ legislation there is a whole world of shambleism to behold here in Latin America. Clearly I don’t care whether I pay a pound or a pound and a half (so long a it’s not of my flesh), it does bother me though when people try to rip me off…

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