We flew into Cali from Cartagena and after 2 nights we decided to head onwards to Popayán. We took a taxi for 4,000 pesos to the bus terminal and went upstairs to the Palmira bus desk to enquire about tickets to Popayán. As luck would have it they had a shuttle leaving in the next few minutes, so we bought our tickets for 15,000 each and followed the driver up another level to the shuttle.
What should have been an uneventful 3 hour ride to Popayán turned into quite an interesting journey when we passed the town of Santander. A female passenger and her teenage son asked to be dropped off at a particular point of the highway but the driver refused on the grounds that he could not stop on that part of the road.
This triggered off an argument to unprecedented proportions when the mother started to argue with the conductor and driver, as they claimed that they had been told they could get off at that point and were now being refused.
Instead of just getting off a little further along the road, the teenage son took out a knife and leaned over to the driver threatening him and arguing that he should be dropping them off where they had requested.
This sparked the driver to pull over, get out of his cab and try to enter the main area with a machete! The conductor blocked his path by standing in the doorway but it didn’t stop the driver trying to get at the son with his knife, all the while the mother carried on arguing with the conductor.
We were unsure as to what to do as we were sat on the second row and the passengers from the first row fled to the back. The argument escalated further and the driver shouted that the teenager should learn to respect authority while trying to jab at him through the door.
The conductor eventually seemed to manage to calm things down enough to let the mother and son off. However, rather than staying quiet they started to argue again with the conductor, but this time he got angry at what was being said and seemed to want to get into a punch up with the teenager. At this point the driver came running back waving his machete which prompted the teenager to run off with both the conductor and the armed driver after him.
This prompted screams from some of the female passengers whilst others talked about calling the police. Yet as quickly as it had started, it seemed to end. All of a sudden the conductor was back on board and the driver behind the wheel, with no sign of the teenager.
We later arrived at a police check-point, where I assume the driver explained what had happened as he had a long chat with the officer.
Luckily the rest of the journey continued without any problems and we arrived safely in Popayán for early afternoon, but we wont be forgetting the bus ride in a hurry!