Borderlands, La Frontera

Trip Start Nov 24, 2007
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18
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Trip End May 15, 2008


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Where I stayed
Koala Inn

Flag of Colombia  ,
Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Here I am in Colombia. Land of cocaine, cartels, kidnappings, cumbia, emeralds, some damn good music and so far, also a land sensational scenery and very warm and open people. After a long and windy bus ride I left Ecuador behind, walked across the borderland bridge and for the first time set foot on Colombian soil. My only problem entering Colombia was trying to convince the two Colombian immigration officers behind the counter that I indeed did not want to sell them one of my two, $2 dollar bills (for way more than the face value) which I have been keeping in my passport in the event that I need some bribing power down here. In fact, its quite a funny story because Maya received both in Vilcabamaba from a nice Danish girl at a veggie restaurant and I then proceeded to buy them from her for five dollars. Look how it all comes around.....great investment on my part as I had no troubles gaining entrance, obtaining the maximum 60 days allowed (some tourists get slighted at 30) and was not even obligated to show proof of exit which many travelers have told horror stories of border complications and having to bribe officers with $15-20 dollars in order to save the hassle of obtaining one. Good olŽ Tommy Jefferson and the Declaration of Independence sure comes in handy sometimes... yay, yay ol US of A. :-) 

Obviously I am alive and well....

Continuing on past the border I stopped briefly in the ramshackled border town of Ipiales to visit the remarkable Las Lajas Sanctuary which was well worth the visit and which IŽll let the pictures to the talking. As history goes, sometime in the mid-18th century an image of the Virgin Mary appeared on a massive outcropping above the river and so a chapel and then later the church of today were both built. It was definitely candy for the eyes... Now I am in Pasto.

So far, I am impressed. First off, now that I have my bearings dialed in on how much certain things cost here I've realized that I wasn't ripped off once the first day - bus, taxi or food. That is quite impressive beings how it was a boarder crossing. I also must have been looking pretty grizzly (unshaven and hadn't showered) because two sweet old Colombian women bought me a brown paper bag full of cut up tri-tip steak, a plastic bag full of juice (yep that's how they do it here) and a guanabana jelly treat. What nice ladies...and a good first few days.
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