Popayan

Trip Start Jan 01, 2001
1
111
447
Trip End Dec 28, 2010


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Saturday, January 3, 2009

Moving on again, this time to the town of Popayen, the old capitol of the state of Cauca. Once again the road was adequate, this time we were more on a back road but only had 2 places that were difficult. The first a tree had fallen across the road and we only just managed to squeeze past. In the second the bridge over a river had collapsed and they had built a temporary road alongside which was very rough and steep. Once again on arrival we found a parquedaro (N 2.27.00.71 W 76.36.28.96) where we are able to stay for 4 nights this time. It is almost opposite a large supermarket so the first stop was to do some shopping.
4th - This morning it was off on the moped to ride around the town itself. Recognized as one of the gems in Colombia, it is a working town that was founded in 1537. It soon attracted the y Spanish sugar owners as it is a much nicer climate than the area of the haciendas/ In turn these quickly built several imposing churches and monasteries in the 17th and 18th centuries. Unfortunately a lot of the buildings were seriously damaged in an earthquake just before the famous Maundy Thursday parade in 1983. All of the buildings have been restored today and it is once more a vast collection of whitewashed buildings in a maze of similar streets. We could only get into the church of Saint Francis, supposed to be the best with its main alter and 18 side alters. We will go back tomorrow to go into a couple of old houses that are now museums and also to look into some of the houses that have vast patios inside.
5th - All the best plans change, we went in and found the museums shut and on querying we found out that today and tomorrow is the Fiesta of the Black and White.
One of the ways we found this out was that we were stopped by the police, not the only ones I would add. After a lot of Spanglish and signs we found out that motor bikes and mopeds where not allowed into the city today. This is to cut down the risk of accidents caused by missiles. It is mainly celebrated in the town of Pasto but also happens here, the roots go back to the 16th Century when the Spanish would allow the slaves to have the day off and paint their faces white. This is followed the next day when the Spanish would paint their faces black. Nowadays as we found out it is an excuse to throw mainly water bombs at everyone, although there was also a lot of flour and spray foam going around as well. You get lots of pickups filled with mainly teenagers who drive around and aim for everyone indiscriminately. The end result was that we escaped in the main from the water, although Mike was brought to his knees when a water bomb smacked him on his head and I was not too happy when I got hit in the tummy, which soaked me all the way through down to my socks; and still were not able to see the museums.
6th- We set of this morning in a local bus to drive to the town of Silvia, about 63 kms away up in the hills. They have a big market every Tuesday to which lots and lots of indigenous people attend dressed in their traditional clothing. The trip was surprisingly smooth as the road was classed as a dirt road; in actual fact it was paved all the way and no problem apart from several old landslides. Once again one had taken away half of the road. On arrival we spent a while walking round the town and the market, both of which were average, the one big difference was the dress of the locals. This consisted of bright, almost royal blue blankets, edged with red and green stitching around the hems. These were worn as capes by the women and skirts by the men. The footwear for both consisted of thick woollen socks rolled down to the ankle with either brown or black heavy boots. The women also wore the same black skirt although with different coloured hems. To top it all off both males and females wore a black, felt bowler hat. Laurel and Hardy did not get a look in. No need to be conscious of fashion here. After buying a few things it was back on a bus to Kirsty. Once again in the town they were going daft with flour and water and so we did not venture too far.
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