Birding Without Borders

Day 82: An 11-Hour Bus Ride

While crossing half of Colombia by bus, Noah learned quite a bit about the country.

March 23, 2015, Bogota, Colombia — Per yesterday’s change of plans, today was a repositioning day. I spent a couple of hours this morning birding around the yard at the Cerulean Warbler Reserve with Jim, Bruce, and Ryan (and saw three new birds, including a pair of endemic Turquoise Dacnis) before the 4x4 arrived to collect us. They dropped me at the bus stop in San Vicente before continuing on to El Paujil, and I caught a 3-hour bus to Bucaramanga, then an 11-hour bus to Bogota, then a taxi to my hostel for tonight, getting in at midnight.

Bus stations in Colombia are like airports in the US, with check-in offices, gates, and departure boards. It’s easy to navigate the system: Just show up and walk on the next bus. Without knowing the schedule, I only had to wait ten minutes to catch the first departure to Bucaramanga, then half an hour for the longer ride to Bogota. Because so many people don’t have cars, public transportation is much better here than in more developed countries!

I sat next to a 30-year-old business administration student named William for most of the afternoon and evening as we watched half of Colombia go by out the window. I offered him a piece of my chocolate bar when we sat down, and he spent the next 11 hours talking my ear off (in Spanish) about music, terrorism, soft drinks, Colombian women, movies, Bill Clinton, marijuana laws, the Grand Canyon, motorcycles, Venezuela, the World Wrestling Foundation, a roadside clown, and tropical fruit. I learned that military service is mandatory in Colombia, and that (at least according to William) Colombia’s army is the best in the world at hand-to-hand combat because it has had so much experience in the jungle. In between, I told him stories about birds. He was impressed with my big year project, but even more impressed by my picture of the Sword-billed Hummingbird.

New birds today: 3

Year list: 1778

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