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In Colombia, boys at the completion of school are required to either enter the military,
or the police force.
Thus, Columbia is filled with young men, training to be policemen.
And this means they seem like they are in packs - everywhere.
So as we leave Paipa, we then go through toll gates - there are police.
We also have 3 road blocks - and more police.
We step off the bus (unknowingly having to catch yet another bus from the North to the old town), and there are two police.
They insist on helping. It is nice, but we now have "police fear".
So they take our bags up and over the overpass.
They wait whilst we buy tickets.
They enter the secure ticketed area with our bags and wait until our bus comes.
Then, we get back to our hostel, and each day the team of police come in to check the guest register.
By now, I just have fear of police.
We stay in town several days, but it doesn't pass.
We plan to head out to the coffee region, but then on the news we hear about the fuel strike in the south, and the coffee growers are having riots in the south - both Cali and Medellin.
We then hear the buses are not running south.
The talks are that the riots will increase.
So we look into the possibility of going to Venezuela, but Chavez, the President just died last week, and there is political unrest.
Not a good place to be right now.
So I decide to book airline tickets and leave.
We can only get an evening flight the next day, so we prepare to go.
My son has a Spanish lesson whilst I pack.
We take our last walks around the old city.
We found a lovely old train carriage that was a cafe, and sat and enjoyed coffee and cake.
Later we had lunch, and we found the custom of all the business people wearing disposable gloves to eat their greasy food quite funny. But hey, it works.
The weather is cool. "Coooolumbia" about sums it up here.
Nice in the mornings and rainy in the afternoons.
We have a new larger room (so I can spread out and pack).
and it had a great view of the Virgin at the top of the hill.
To me it felt more like waking up and seeing Jesus with his arms outstretched -
like wanting us to come and hide in his robe.
This gave me peace.
The last part of the day goes so slowly.
I am uptight.
We son should have had more exercise, and less sugar.
He is hyped, and now he has to sit on a plane.
And behave at customs.
His efforts in the taxi, and in the airport are not flash.
He probably is uptight too?
He does get excited when he sees he has we have to catch a bus to the aeroplane.
He is incredibly excited and jumps up and down as he sees the steps to the plane.
Just like a movie!
We have to wait about half an hour past our scheduled departure, as the queue for planes to use the runway is extensive.
We meet some fellow Aussies on our flight and chat away.
We talk about the fact they had to book a flight for the same reason we do.
They say folks won't get through on the buses to Ecuador.
Our flight is pretty good.
COPA Airlines offers a HUGE allowance on luggage.
The food and drinks are good.
We land in Quito.
There are no toilets anywhere on the walk from the plane to customs.
Even after customs I can't see a toilet.
We wait to get our bags.
For over 1 hour the conveyor belts break down.
We finally get one bag, but the other is missing.
My son is just stuffed.
I can't leave him and the bags and I have to go to the bathroom so badly.
He won't listen and keeps playing on the conveyor belt.
He is so uptight, he gives it a kick.
I find his behaviour so frustrating. Yet I know he is overtired.
We wait, and wait and then get told the conveyor belt has changed to the centre one.
Now 6 flights are waiting for bags - it is out of control.
It has been nearly 2 hours and I have had enough.
I finally decide not to believe the man that our last bag is going to appear on this conveyor belt.
So we seek to report it.
I finally find our last bag.
It is in lost property.
It is FILTHY & covered in black gunk.
Where the heck has it been????
Somehow it had never even come down the chute.
I wonder how long it has sat there.
The whole time, my son wants to help and go to the conveyor belts and search fro the bags.
He won't listen to me.
I feel so uptight.
We drag the bags to the Xray area.
We get through and discover my son has dropped his jacket.
We can't go back through the Xray area.
I have to leave the bags with the attendant and wander back through for the jacket.
By now my bladder, and emotions are about to pop.
We can't find the jacket.
We head back and finally find a bathroom.
By now my temper pops when my son answers me back one last time.
I don't win Mother of the Year award for my yelling or response.
By now it is 1 a.m.
I worry we won't even get into our accommodation when finally get there.
We grab a cab, but it has no meter.
He drives at 90 k.m.h. for well over one and a quarter hours.
I fear he could drive us off to the never-never and we are lost in Ecuador forever.
But whilst my son sleeps, I pray.
We get to a toll.
I try to scream at the lady to help, but she ignores us :(
Where the heck is this driver taking us?
But, at the end of the road, there is our Inn.
He charges us $30 (more than what we are told to pay).
I get my son out and get him to buzz the door.
A man appears down the steps and next thing our bags head up.
I send my son up and pay (the man says to just pay and not quibble, so I do).
We buy water and finally go up about 100 steps to our room.
It is clean and private, and there is a view of twinkling lights of Quito.
We have finally arrived!
I cannot wait for sleep :)