Bus ride from Manizales to Cali, some time in November.

Glimpse of town creeping up to top of green mountain. The only flat area in town, built from a shored up hillside, is a baseball field so high it is topped with mist. Players in white uniforms look like field of dreams.

Even at this altitude, the tops of the hills are dense with palm trees wherever there aren’t steep, criss-cross plowed farms. Some are so steep it makes me wonder how they manage to get a plow down row after row and then back up to the top again. Just like in the jungle, in these towns life covers every available surface.

In Bogot√° little plants even grow in the crevices of rooftop tiles.

Though most of the buildings only have rusted corrugated metal roofs, they are also painted bright, festive colors – oranges and greens, displaying tropical optimism even though we’re high enough for year-round sweater weather.

As soon as I start thinking the town smells a bit like burnt plastic, I see a few bushes of bright red flowers.

We pass above the city into farms again, and the almost mogul hills are covered in tortuous plowing, pastures carved to give the cows purchase, and trees planted in rows deformed by the contours like balloons.

I try to shoot some photos, but I can see much faster than my camera can, and anyway all the photos show is mist.

They don’t even pick up the distant mountains which, caught by the light so that their contour is accentuated, are the most beautiful part.

We must be past the farm land now, because all the trees are covered in pine needles. Unless those are planted, and the true wild patches are the bushes and ferns. It’s hard to tell.

I turn to see what Lisa’s smiling about and see she’s taking photos of a spectacular mountain, green and nearly unpopulated all the way down into the valley.

Let me reiterate something here: the people live in shacks, the farms are so unlevel that the cows probably only have three hooves at the same height when heading to the slaughterhouse, and this town cleared and shored up enough land to build a baseball field. Which was, of course, perfectly green and crowned with mists.

I see in immediate succession along the side of the road: a dog chained to a tree on a steep slope, a man walking a goat in what I can only describe as a sherpa’s outfit, a woman in sunglasses and what looks like an 80s ski outfit, and another woman and her kids, wearing short sleeves about like a t-shirt.

After stopping for a dinner that I skip, we begin descending, and there are no more towns, just breathtaking views as the mountains give way to valleys, all thick with short lush grass and mostly ridged with trees.

Our view is both obstructed and accented by the clouds getting in the way BELOW US.

“Skeletons” by the yeah yeah yeahs in my ears drowns out hour four of salsa music and I watch a single cow grazing alone with a backdrop of hill after lush green hill fading into the clouds.

The pink hint of sunset we saw over the mountaintops half an hour ago means that it’s getting dark, and soon all I’ll be able to see is the clouds still catching the light.

I’m happy now that we took the earlier, jankier bus, because it meant an extra hour of this stuff.

Just saw what looked to me like a six foot wide cloud in the road. I guess a lot of people would call that fog, but I thought it was cool.

A man walks up the road with a chainsaw over his shoulder. I had gotten so used to machetes.

I’ve been so exposed now that when I give in to the dark and close my eyes I see yet more green hills.

I open my eyes again and we’re high enough so that in the distance, somehow in the clouds the sun is still setting.

Hour 4.5 of salsa music drowns out the drop-beat techno in my headphones.

With poetic timing, I am wondering who the hell wants the music this loud when two drunks get on and sit between me and Lisa, one of whom alternates between sucking on a lollipop and belting out the lyrics seconds before the actual singer. Oh he’s synced up now, I’m glad time is functioning properly.


Posted on by Brandon Green in Best Of, Colombia, Long, Uncategorized

About Brandon Green

Brandon is a former investment banker who now travels the world full time. Brandon is on twitter @brandonbrucegreen and on Google +.