Monday, 27 October 2014

0127 Popayan to a Mountain Pass

25th Oct

The hotel in Popayan was very nice, with a beautiful courtyard in the centre and all the rooms radiating out from the courtyard. They were doing some renovations at the time we were there, while the street outside was being paved and made into a pedestrian only access so that was a bit messy, but when it is all complete it will be very nice.  After we had got everything back to the car in the Parqueadero, we went off for an explore of the rather nice little town.

We first went to the Iglesia (Church) of San Francisco, outside which some pigeons were having fun with a statue.  Interesting church, and many of the individual statues were dressed in real clothes instead of carved wooden ones, which was interesting.  All quite gilt and ornate.  Then we went out into the town’s main plaza, the Parque Caldas, which was beautifully set out, with lots of shade and places to sit and enjoy the peace, and maybe an ice cream or some fresh pineapple or mango from one of the local vendors.  Plazas like this, where many people are just enjoying the benefits, make you realise what an important role they play in the life of a city.  From there we went into the Catedral which was right beside the central plaza, and that had an amazing sculpture behind the altar, and some very nice stained windows.

Back out in the square, we bought some delicious freshly sliced pineapple to enjoy as we wandered slowly round the main part of town, and then back to the Iglesia San Domingo next to our hotel where there was a wedding underway, before collecting the car from the parqueadero and heading south out of town.  Some interesting roundabout statues on the way out, and then it was off into the mountains. The road south looks pretty straight on the map, but as usual, it isn’t !  We were hoping to get to a camp site in Ipiales tonight, on the Ecuadorian border, but this hope soon faded. The first part was through some twisty stuff with the normal road works causing delays – Some of them very narrow and muddy side tracks with steep drop offs down the mountain where the road has given way and they are trying to put pilings in to support the edge of the road more permanently. Looking out of the driver’s side window sometimes was not for the faint-hearted – Kind of getting into practice for THAT road in Bolivia !  Luckily Janet is safe in the passenger side on the inside of the road, so she didn’t see some of the drop offs or have to worry about them !!

The twisty roads, roadworks, and heavy traffic continued – But so did the spectacular views.  We were just mesmerized by the never ending, jaw dropping views over the mountains, that just went on and on and on.  During the day we probably only travelled 150 kms as the crow flies, but it took us about 12 hours to do it – Unfortunately I didn’t measure the actual distance we
travelled !   But by about 5 pm, as it started to get dark, we hadn’t even reached Pasto, only just more than half way to the border !!   At the top of one mountain pass, as about 2200 metres, we came across a petrol station with a restaurant and a big parking area.  They also had a kind of hotel from truckers there, so we went in the restaurant, asked if they could serve us supper, and if we could park outside for the night.  The answer to both was Yes, and so we set up the van (which just entails popping up the roof and moving a few things out of the back onto the front seats so we can make up the beds), and spent the evening in the restaurant having a few beers, working on blogs and email (unfortunately no wifi !!), shared a hearty and tasty meal of soup, then chicken, rice, potatoes, plantain and a salad.  All for the stately some of 12,000 pesos, or about $6 !!  And that included the camping !    It was a bit noisy early on with trucks coming in and parking for the night, but it soon settled down and we got a good night’s sleep in the cool mountain air.   

Pics are here :-

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