The road to Colombia
Trip Start Aug 26, 2009
76Trip End Jun 24, 2010
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We left early and headed for the north bus terminal in Quito to try and get to the border town of Tulcan. The north bus terminal is less efficient than the south, there were huge queues of people everywhere that seemed to be queuing for nothing in particular. After an hour of random queuing we got a bus to Tulcan.
After the bus it was a taxi to the border and straight to immigration trying to dodge all the money changers and taxi drivers on the way. Turns out before you enter Colombia you have to exit Ecuador by getting a stamp. So it was back across the border in the rain to get a stamp and then back to Colombia to get another stamp, joy! We changed some money with a random guy and managed to foil his ´false calculator´scam
So we were finally in Ipiales in a very large but icy cold room. It was Halloween so all the kids were dressed up, everyone looked amazing and the roads were full of street performers and stalls. We were told Ipiales was rather crap but we were lucky and had quite a good time. We ate a weird combination of chopped up savaloy and chips in a restaurant by pointing at some locals and trying to muster up the spanish for ´we will have what they are having´. we are still not sure what the right words are but we seemed to get the right food.
Next day we visited the Santuario Las Lajas which is an amazing gothic church built into a huge gorge, right into the cliff face. Apparently Virgin Mary was sighted on the rocks and that´s why a church was built. It is also said to be a place where miracles come true. It was really beautiful and we lit a candle for Gigi there too
Then it was time for the bus to Popayan. We were used to the hot and humid Ecuadorian buses so we were surprised to find the uis icy cold, much like our hotel room, and I sat wrapped in t-shirt, two hoodies, waterproof jacket and scarf plus tims jackets round my legs. However the stunning mountain scenery for the entire eight hour journey vastly overshadowed the cold. It was incredible!
Sod´s law we arrived in Popayan during some sort of holiday so everything was closed. It is a quiet town with nice colonial architecture and some pretty churches and plazas. We spent most of our time there relaxing and doing fun things like washing. We were a little surprised to find a giant-sized smurf erected by the river. Strange. However we nearly got stuck there due to the horrendous queue at the cash point that kept running out of money!
On our way to the coast we stopped over night in Cali to break up the trip. The weather changes again and it is absolutely boiling. We have just enough time for some nice tapas and spanish practice before taking off the next day for Medellin.
We had heard rave reviews about Medellin so we were pretty excited and keen to see our first big Colombian city. We got off to a bit of a bad start when our taxi could not find our hostel anywhere and we had to drive around asking random strangers for what felt like hours. Eventually we got there and were amazed to discover a mini backpacker city inside. Medellin was a cool place but mainly somewhere people go to party
We went exploring and there is a nice vibe in the city centre. Although we were a little worried when we met a Colombian guy who was warning us about certain metro lines that people sometimes liked to shoot at. That said we changed our plans and stayed away from those places! Other than that we felt really safe in Medellin. There are loads of cool Bronce statues of fat people in the main square. Pretty random.
We also discovered a cool bar that played 80s and 90s rock so, as you can imagine, we were pretty happy (Bon Jovi!)