The World Cup is really messing with my travel schedule! I arrived at the bus station at 2:30am to try and get a bus to Tunja where I could change for Villa de Leyva. Why would I do such a thing? So that I could arrive in Leyva in time to watch the England vs. Ecuador match of course! There wasn't a seat available on a bus until 4am so I spent the time studying Spanish, pretty impressive, eh? Villa de Leyva is a cute little white washed town where rich Colombians go to chill for the weekend and I could see why. The church is of course the center point for the town and out in front is a huge open cobble stoned courtyard where people meet and chat and just generally hang about. I found a small place on the square to watch the game (which was fantastic, yay Beckham) before heading out on walkabout.
I caught a bus at the station to Raquira which is a small colorful nearby town lined with shops selling all sorts of tourist nick knacks. I was wandered around for a bit before spotting and hopping on a small minibus to Candelaria to see the nearby monastery. Everything was so white and bright you couldn't help but feel serene. Also, I know it's strange but the color of the sky here is a blue more beautiful than any I've ever seen. It's very windy and there is a lot of cloud cover but when you see a bit of blue sky peeking out you can't help but be mesmerized. I didn't want to sit around waiting for a bus back so I walked on the road for about an hour before one caught up with me. It was going in my general direction but luckily there was a woman on he bus trying to get back to Villa de Leyva as well. We had to change to another bus and then a shared taxi before we were safely back in town.
I thought Sunday night and Monday was going to be more quiet but this is the second holiday weekend in a series of 3 for Colombians. I went to bed quite early but the rest of the town was up late drinking in small bars and hanging out in and around the bonfire in the middle of the square. The morning was eaten up by yet another football match before I headed out on a one hour hike to see an astronomical music site. Still not sure what it was all about. It kind of looked like a bunch of big stone penises stuck in the ground but who am I to judge. From there I headed southwest to see the fossil of a kronosaurus which was pretty cool. I then had to hike home about an hour trying to go as quickly as possible so I could make it back in time to see the second half of yet another game. Do you see how this is becoming a real problem?
Back in Leyva the mass exodus was well underway. I had a late dinner and called it a night. The next morning I of course had to watch the Brazil game but left early as I couldn't really watch Ghana being brutalized like that. I hopped on a minibus to Tunja and then on a whim decided that I couldn't possible miss the France vs. Spain game so I hung around the bus station watching it with everyone else. As soon as the game was over I headed out to find a bus to Bogota and found one leaving immediately and they even wanted to give me a ticket at a discount. Great I thought. Not great. The bus was full and my seat was a cushion propped on a small ledge in the back in front of the bathrooms. Be careful what you wish for I suppose. I got off the bus at Portal Norte, the noth end of Bogota, to transfer to a Transmileno bus which are supposed to be super clean, efficient and fast. Super complicated is more like it. Each bus changes number depending on which direction its going and different numbers are used at different times of the day. While all buses are navigating the same routes, each bus only stops at a small selection of stops and two buses who might both stop at your stop have to be caught at different places on the platform. I stood there staring at the schedule wondering why I didn't just play the $4 for the taxi.
I picked a bus stopping one station passed where I wanted to go and hoped for the best. From there I found a taxi to take me to my hostel. He couldn't find it and I finally just got fed up and told him to let me out and I would walk. Well, thankfully he let me out only a few meters from a building where four gringos had just walked out of. I knew that had to be it but as I looked at the gringos I just kept thinking, 'it can't be'. I called out 'Ian' and one of the guys turned around. It was a fellow Canadian I'd hung out with all though Bolivia. We spent the rest of the night catching up and chatting with others in the hostel. This is a total gringo hangout which is a nice change. Ian's leaving for Canada tomorrow and he seems really ready to just go home. I hope I'm ready when the time comes.