Con Mucho Gusto...Colombia!

Trip Start Nov 15, 2006
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Flag of Colombia  ,
Thursday, September 27, 2007

A warning note for those leaving Ecuador. Ensure you have your entry slip from Ecuadorian customs as they charge a big fine if you've lost it!

The border crossing is low hassle - we don't even have to fill in any paperwork. We take a public bus to Ipiales, a small town and interim step towards the colonial town of Popayán. A quick side-trip to Las Lajas, location of a Sanctuario Católico where apparently someone once saw the Virgin Mary. It is a place of natural beauty with a river running through a narrow gorge, crossed by a vaulted stone bridge on which is built a gothic-style cathedral. The paved path that climbs down to the cathedral along the side of the gorge is lined with plaque-covered walls that speak of personal prayers answered and miracles of healing. There are thousands of them.

The bus trip north to Popayán is moderately terrorising. I say moderately because the road is paved and generally in good shape, although the bus sometimes veers blindly to the opposite side of the road to avoid washouts. What the road provides safety-wise, is countered in bucket-loads by the sheer doggedness of the driver to overtake every northbound lorry on every obscured corner or hairpin bend.

In Popayán a short walk off the main drag takes us to a great hotel with less than half the pricetag of the other cheap hotels. We also dine at a noteworthy out-of-the-way gourmet pizza café that makes its own semi-dried tomatoes.

Both places listed here for fellow travellers:
Hotel Ciudad Blanca, Cra. 11, No 6-51 Conmutador, Popayán, ph: 8214047
La Pizzarra, Cra. 13, No 6-17 B Valencia

Our first impression of Colombia is that it is noticeably more friendly than Ecuador. There is a warmth to the people that makes you feel very welcome. Popayán is a pleasant colonial city, agreeable climate, with virtually no tourists and feels safe. Definitely a good launch-pad to explore the surrounding region.
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