Day 81 - San Andres - Boneshaking Bus ride

Trip Start Jun 13, 2009
Trip End Jan 26, 2010

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Flag of Colombia  , Cauca,
Tuesday, September 15, 2009

We rose around 7am, the sun shining through our window. Today was market day in Silvia.

We packed our bags and walked into town. The market was in an undercover area next to the main plaza. As yesterday, many people were dressed in the traditional style for this area. The market had several different sections, one area selling craft ware and modern clothes, one area selling grain, one area selling fruits and vegetables, one area selling breads and there was butchery with every part of the carcass hanging on a hook somewhere. As we passed a very enthusiastic vendor came towards us holding a fresh sheeps head. He must have had it in his mind that we were eager to buy, I don't know where he got that idea. We declined of course.

After an hour and a half we were satisfied and found a jeep that would take us to Toturu. At Totoru we were hoping to meet up with a Collectivo leaving Popayan at 10-30am on its way to San Andreas. The jeep driver told us that we would have to pay $4mil each and wait until the jeep was full, or we could hire the jeep for $35mil pesos. We chose the latter, we were saving at least $15mil by not having to return to Popayan to catch it anyway, and we would probably pay less from Totoru, so off we went. It was a bone shaking road that took about 40 minutes, we arrived in Totoru at 10-30am, so we had between 30minutes and an hour to wait. Totoru was completely uninteresting apart from a huge queue of people lined up outside the only bank in town, and two parrots that were jumping around outside one of the kiosks that Jody and Niamh went to investigate.

Sure enough at about 11-30am the Collectivo rolled in. We managed to get two seats, Christie and Niamh shared a seat in the front, Jody and I at the back. It was the worst road have ever had to endure. Shortly after Totoru the road changed from tarmac to rocks and this just battered us for 4 hours. Somehow Jody managed to play his Nintendo DS which at least kept him occupied but we were thrown around regularly. There were two short toilet stops on the way, and the scenery was magic. At around 3pm we rolled into a town called INZA, and 15 minutes later we turned left at a crossroads and on into San Andreas, about 4km from the cross roads.

As we arrived we looked quickly around for somewhere to stay. There was a nice looking place made out of bamboo called Las Portada. As we got off the bus we asked a man nearby if there was anywhere to stay, he pointed out Las Portada, it just so happened to be his place.

He showed us to our room, it was a large room with a double and two single beds. It was adequate and cost us $35mil pesos. The Tierradentro park consisted of a ,museum about 2km down the road we had just come up, and 5 separate sites that were supposed to take about 6 hours to visit. Our intention was to visit a couple today and hence reduce the time we needed to visit the rest tomorrow, so we could get back to Popayan. Of course, it never quite works out exactly the way you want it to. We discovered that the park was only open between 8am and 4pm, and for 3 of the sites someone from the park needs to open padlocked doors. It was now 5 past 4, so we missed our chance. We did find out, however, that one of the sites nearby, El Tambo, could be visited, so off we went. The trail was easy, just had to follow a road for about 20 minutes and the site was almost next to the road. We hoped that the other sites were as easy. El Tambon consisted of about half a dozen stone carved statues up to 2metres tall. They reminded me of the statues of Easter Island, but smaller of course.

We strolled back to San Andres village. It was quite a small village, an attractive church, a few shops. We didn’t see any other accommodation. Jody spotted a large soccer pitch next to where we were staying so we went back to our accommodation to get our soccer ball, returned and played until dusk. There were a few other kids playing at the other end of the pitch. Christie went to a nearby street to find a good pace to get a menu de dia and returned with a tale. Meanwhile the owner of our hotel joined us for a short kick around before it got too dark.

Christies tale was that she had asked, at one of the shops, if anyone did a menu de dia with the usual soup. Before she could object, the shop owner had picked up the phone and called someone in the village, to call in a favour. Someone was going to make it for us, we just needed to be at a place called Los Lagos at 7pm.

After a freezing cold shower we made our way to Los Lagos.

It was a family home, they had a new born baby, not more than 6 weeks old, a young boy about12 years old served us and brought our food whilst the mother cooked. We were the only visitors. It was a lovely meal but we felt we were intruding, so we demolished our offering, paid $20mil pesos and left satisfied. We returned to our hotel and took advantage of a hot chocolate each, for $1mil pesos before retiring.
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