Rather than go directly from Cali to Ecuador, I decided to break my trip up and spend a couple of nights at a point midway in the small town of Pasto. Unsure which bus company to take to get there, I settled on a minivan company that promised to arrive faster than the buses.
At first I was happy since I was in the front, and had all that extra legroom. But then another passenger got on next to me. He couldn’t sit with his legs forward because then he’d block the driver from the gearstick. So instead he had to sit at an angle and share my legroom under the glove compartment. I went from having the most comfortable seat in the van to the second least comfortable, my one consolation that at least I wasn’t the poor guy sitting next to me.
The drive itself was terrifying. It was all winding mountain roads, meaning you couldn’t see cars or trucks coming on the opposite side of the road until they were quite close. Despite this, our driver attempted a number of dangerous overtakes along these roads. Half the time he would realise he couldn’t make it, and then he would pull the van back into a tight space between two trucks, and we would then tailgate the truck in front until he decided to attempt another overtake. The journey lasted from 11:30am to 9pm, with a one hour dinner break. It didn’t save any time.
And when I arrived in Pasto, I realised that what I believed to be a small town was in fact a city. A city with a population of 500,000. I was glad to be able to stretch my legs, that we hadn’t crashed, and that I didn’t seem to have any signs of a blood clot from hours upon hours of keeping my legs stationary. I chose buses over minivans for the rest of my adventure, if I had the option.