In the morning, when it was time to journey on to San Agustin via Neiva, we simply walked to the corner of the square and took the next transport. We had seen several new European vans leaving and were pleased that it looked like a comfortable journey. Ha! Not to be. The next vehicle leaving was a small-sized king-cab pickup whose bed was set up for standing passengers. In the rain.
Among the first to book passage, the two of us and local elderly woman rushed for the rear seats. If we were asked to move, we had decided that we had the option of “not understanding Spanish,” that dumb look that succeeded from time to time. The truck filled up and we thought we were on our way along the dirt road, complete with king-sized potholes. Not so. The driver circled through the streets, picking up additional passengers, until the truck bed was full. Then we were off, those in the back covered with umbrellas and laughter coming from smiling faces.
En route, passsengers got on and off and the truck became even more packed. Half an hour into the trip¸ a man waved us over and negotiated with the driver to take his wife and small child. Uh, oh, surely we would now end up in the back… but no. The mother kissed her baby girl, handed her to the woman in the front seat, and hopped in the back. For the next hour, the baby smiled and giggled, surrounded by people she had met only a few minutes before!
Once in Neiva, passengers were dropped off wherever they called to get off. We were the very last to leave, deposited at the bus terminal where we were just in time to catch a quick lunch and catch the bus to San Agustin, our next destination.
And, speaking of lunch, we enjoyed an exceptionally good meal at a café in the far corner of the bus station. Away from the other cafes and next to the coffee stand, the big smile of the proprietor called us right in. John has a talent for finding good places to eat. Based on his many years in the restaurant business, he looks for cleanliness, cheerfulness, and the presence of local diners. It works very well.