Parental warning: explicit lyrics, rated PG-13
[7:17 PM, 9/13/2022] Derrick 🇨🇴 🇵🇦🇳🇮🇨🇷: It’s been another difficult travel day.
I want to preface this story by saying that I love travel. It makes me feel alive like nothing else. It can be trying on your patience when buses are consistently late and it feels like everyone is trying to rob you. But you just have to play the game the best you can and learn from all the experiences. Six months into my current journey, things are no less smooth, but I’ve come to expect complications and try to roll with them without losing that temper I am famous for. Face losing confrontations get you nowhere, neither in latin America nor Asia. Please don’t look at this post like I’m complaining. I love Colombia more than any country I’ve been to. I’m considering moving to Cabo de la Vela next year after I make this slow journey south to Machu Picchu. Please consider this a comedy of errors. I am fine and nobody got seriously hurt. Enough of the preambles, let’s get to it.
I am riding on a bus from Cartagena to Tolú, which was supposed to be a two hour ride.
I wasted several hours this morning trying to reserve a bus seat online, but the Brasilia website wouldn’t let me pay the 40,000 pesos ($9.07), a problem I also encountered last week when traveling from Santa Marta to Cartagena.
I wasted over an hour chatting with Brasilia Bus Company’s customer diss service (see what I did there?) on WhatsApp. They wanted to charge me an extra 10,000 pesos for paying on Whatsapp. I politely told them to go fuck themselves in Spanish for wasting my morning and ordered an inDriver car to take me to the bus terminal.
We passed by the same Motel Indiana I saw on my first day heading into Cartagena. I took better photos this time because I knew I would pass it this time. I think it’s one of those places you can go to secretly cheat on your spouse.
I arrived at Cartagena terminal around 1 pm and bought a ticket for 2 pm. After the bus didn’t arrive on time, an employee said there was “una problema con el autobus” and we wouldn’t leave until 3:45. So now I had two hours to kill at the boring ass bus station and wouldn’t get to Tolú until after dark., which one should try to avoid whilst traveling.
This is the time that Jenny, owner of the Canada House home stay in Tolú where I have a reservation, decided to contact me last minute like she does with all her “guests” (I will call us victims from now on). She said the room I reserved had a problem with the bathroom and I would have to pay 60,000 pesos for another room for two nights instead of the 30,000 I had agreed to on Booking.com.
Because I wasted so much time talking to the bus company that morning, I didn’t have time to vet the Canada House properly. I just saw it was the cheapest option in Tolú. If I had done even nominal research, I would have seen that she pulls this scam on everyone that stays there. I was the only victim in the house for the two days I could put up with it. I will talk more about this below.
We started boarding the bus around 3:50 and didn’t leave until after 4, now over two hours late. Cartagena traffic was heavy so it was slow going for a while.
Half way to Tolú the bus stopped at a police check point. An officer came on board and started talking to everyone in Spanish. I couldn’t understand what he was saying but I saw people in front of me getting out their IDs and handing them to the officer who was keeping them.
I handed him my driver’s license. He gave it a quick look and handed it back to me. I guess they weren’t looking for a tall, blue eyed gringo. He continued collecting everyone else’s IDs and took them off the bus to some other officers. I presume they went through all of them and did not find El Chapo.
After my experience crossing the Costa Rican border into Panama, I was afraid they were going to do another rectal exam to the spare tire, take out everyone’s bags and sic the dogs on their asses. Luckily this didn’t happen, but it put us another 30 minutes behind.
During the ID situation, I asked the driver if I could get off the bus and smoke. He used a lot of unfamiliar words that apparently meant yes. Right after that a French guy followed me and smoked too. I haven’t seen a lot of Colombians smoke. I’ve been trying to quit since I was in Minca a month ago, but it’s so difficult and I’m so weak. I didn’t smoke from 2019 until 2022, so I know I can resist if I can just get over the painful withdrawal symptoms.
While I was slowly killing myself with tobacco, I could see three officers standing by a police car with all the ID’s and some phones on the hood, presumably looking for Pablito Escobar, who they didn’t catch this time, so we got back on the road, losing about 30 minutes.
Now we have stopped in San Onofre where about a dozen people got off the bus. It’s taking a long time for them to get their bags from under the bus. We are still 34 km from Tolú. It feels like we will never get there.
About 7pm, three hours late, the bus dropped me off at the main highway, a 15 minute walk through the Tolú ghetto to Canada House. I had read that in some places walking around with your phone is a bad idea because motorcycle drivers will snatch it out of your hand and take off. But I was in a new town after dark with no idea where I was. I needed my GPS. It didn’t seem dangerous out. Kids were running around. It just looked poor on the outskirts of town. Situational awareness is key.
When I got to the address Booking.com gave me, there was no Canada House. I am not traveling with a data plan, part of the thrift philosophy I have adopted, so I had to find wifi.
There was a guest house nearby with a nice lady who let me use her wifi. She talked to Jenny, the sociopathic pig lady owner of Canada House, over the phone. I was only a few blocks away, so Jenny sent Pablo, the guy that would stalk me at the beach and assault me two mornings later, on his moto to come pick me up. They like to seem like they are decent human beings at first, but Canada Summer House is like Mos Eisley spaceport. You will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy.
Pablo the serial assaulter, see their reviews on Google and Booking.com, brought me to Canada House where I met Pig Woman, who was so congenial and two-faced. I agreed to pay double the amount because it was still super cheap, it was late and I didn’t feel haggling over pennies. This is the position they consistently victims through. Let me be clear, this is not about money. It’s about principle.
I hate sociopaths with a passion and I have considered myself a sociopath hunter since I lost a job in 2006 when a sociopath was staying at a hostel in Nashville that I was managing and scammed us big time.
Of course Jenny doesn’t take credit card or have change, so another lady walked me to the nearest bodega and broke a large bill so I could pay, yet another pain in the ass.
I was hungry by now and walked around for a few hours to explore the town and see the Caribbean which was only three blocks away.
After eating and exploring I went back to Canada House. I had to ring the doorbell because they don’t provide keys. Someone on the third floor puts their head out the window and sees you, then walks all the way down to the first floor to let you in the front door. They also unlock your room because you don’t get a key to that either.
I don’t remember what I did after that, but it was probably work on this website a little, which was the main reason for stopping in “tranquilo” Tolú before going to bustling Medellin, before passing out in exhaustion.
I’ve heard of Friday the 13th being bad luck in the US. Is Tuesday the 13th bad luck in Colombia? ¡,Ay, Dios mio!
To be continued…
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