Friday, October 12, 2012

Popayan (Papa' john), Colombia - just like the pizza

After the coffee plantation we returned to the EcoHotel La Juanita. We talked to Rosario about where we should stop next.  We planned to stop in Cali, but she said, no, no, you will need to go on to Popayan.  All the buildings are white, it is a very good site. 
Rosario and her daughter who tried to translate for us.
We got up early the next morning and left for Popayan.  After a little rain and some winding roads, some straight and hot stretches we made to Popayan.  The diversity of driving terrains is something to mention.  High altitudes over 10,000 feet give way to lower, 2,000 and 3,000 foot valleys sometimes rising and falling two times a day.  Temperatures as low as 55F up to 98F and then back down again, with fog, rain and blistering sun.  It is hard to dress appropriately.

At Popayan we found that the roads are mostly one way and everyone seems to know which way, except of course us Gringo’s.  Eventually we found that there are signs on the buildings indicating which way to go and what the street names were. 

We continue to laugh that everytime we get a room it is the furthest away from the street where our bikes are.  This time was no different.  Usually this means three trips with our crap.  We have to carry the top case, the sides cases, the camping luggage and miscellaneous helmets, jackets, GPS, Spot, etc., up to the second floor and all the way to the back.  By the time I am done with this trip, I should look like Arnold Swarzenegger, back before he became the governator.

After getting settled in, we went out for a bite to eat, tamales South American style. They were very good along with the middle of the road cervaisa’s they have here.  We then found a little bar where the beers were really expensive, about $5 bucks.  They actually had more of selection so we had a couple and left.  On the way back to they hostal we ran into a marching band, playing only percussion, even though they had a brass section, marching the streets of Popayan.  It was some religious ceremony, since there were catholic priest and some image of a saint carried on a platform by eight young men.  The thing that struck me as we walked behind was the beat of the drums sounded just like those from the Fleetwood Mac tune “Tusk”.  I couldn’t help but hum the rhythm guitar part.

We planned to stay in Popayan an additional day.  But, after we got back from our tour of the town that night I sent an e-mail to a contact we got from Regula at the Hostal in Santa Marta.  The next morning we received a response that said that she actually had a cancellation for a five day Galapagos tour that would work if we hustled it down to Quito.  So that’s what we did.  Packed quickly, loaded the bikes, checked out and we were off.

Even though we had figured out “una via” and street names, we had not figured out who stopped for whom, and never did find any signs.  Not knowing who had the right of way and probably somewhat in the haste to leave town, led to a little incident where I dropped my bike.  I thought I had the right of way but didn’t.  The bike coming the other way honked and I slammed on the brakes.  Because of the rebound on the shocks, the bike came back up slightly at a list and I could not hold it up.  Bam, but people came from all around to help me pick it up (and probably to laugh at the stupido gringo!)

On to Igiales for the night.  Igiales is a town on the border of Ecuador.  Not much in the way of tourism but plenty if you are interested in a brothel hotel, cold porcelain toilet bowls, showers without shower heads and sinks that drain onto the floors.

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