On the Road in Colombia
Location: I have no recollection!
As many readers probably fear traveling to Colombia for obvious safety concerns, I am tempting fate here by posting some of my observations in regards to my safety while in transit.
Leaving a copy of my passport at work was a good start, should something unsightly happen to me and I become a compañero of certain groups in the countryside as a result of straying too far from my bus, or a prisionero of others, depending mainly on the mood of whomever is doing the catching and who ends up doing the talking to get money that is nonexistent from my family back home. But then, just as the pursuit of material goods in the USA is driven in part by the importance of appearances, so is the importance of appearances crucial in not making yourself a target of those that make a buck from tourist blunders as much as those that just need the money.
No matter what you may hear from a Bus company that their company has paid a vacuna to X, Y, or Z group to avoid incidents on the road, you should still play the part of a low key traveler while traversing long distances while in Colombia. It is only common sense that is needed. Pick routes that are less prone to having problems—there are several websites nowadays that monitor the frequency of incidents in almost real time, but they will not be part of the comments here. At some points it is even more intelligent to travel at night! Some of the bad guys just don’t want to work their shifts past certain times…
The bad stuff out of the way, road travel in Colombia can be visually scintillating. From vast canyons to curves, and curves, and curves, green everywhere, high altitude roads, seaside stops, to “rest” stops (usually at the discretion of Mr. Bus driver) that include food with mountain backdrops. In earnest, my favorite part is the ubiquitous vendedor that is picked up near the beginning of your trip, sells you empanadas (de huevo at the Caribbean coast, de carne or pollo inland) and refreshments, and gets off several kilometers down the road. That is literally eating on the go. This food is quite tasty, with no adverse health effects. Just do not overdo it, as the lavatories onboard most buses are not really worthy of doing #2 and they most certainly do not carry toilet paper, so if you have IBS or any sensibilities in your stomach, do not eat onboard or just keep it to a minimum. Or hold it, but then again, you do not know when the driver will stop… or carry a stash of TP for yourself and some extra to cover the “seat.”