Quito Travel Blog

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Popayan, Colombia: My cabin in Atlantida
Ok, in one week, I think I’ve experienced the most diversified traveling experience and maybe the most frequent trips in the shortest amount of time. I left Cali a week ago Thursday and traveled to Atlantida near Popayan, which is about three hours away. From Popayan, I got off at El Cairo, just before Popayan and hopped on a motorcycle that took me and my luggage about ½ hour up the mountain to the ecovillage of Atlantida. On the back of the moto, with my backpack balanced on the front, traveling up a muddy dirt road up the mountain was a bit trippy.

Atlantida was awesome - a beautiful community of people and equally very beautiful land. I learned a lot. Edwardo toured me around and I spent one day with him bee-keeping. I was there for only four days while the plan was to be there for 1 ½ weeks.

Buena Ventura: Pericos Nature preserve.
After four days, I learned that Santiago was leaving the next day to Pericos … the nature preserve near Buena Ventura. Before leaving Cali, Margarita from Colombia en Hechos was in Cali and was heading to Ladrilleros and Juanchaco near BV to do some environmental projects. We spent two days together in Cali and split up. She invited me there, but I had already made plans to go to Atlantida.

From the discussion in Atlantida, very quickly the plans were made. I was going to travel with Jorge and Santiago to Pericos, leaving Atlantida the next morning. At 5:00 a.m. we met and headed to the main road and waited for the chiva to Popayan. That was awesome. Climbing in the back of what is like a collective bus, but open on all sides. The bus was full of campesinos on their way to work/market in the city from the mountains.

Ladrilleros, Colombia: View from beach home in Ladrilleros
In the street on the way to Popayan, we hopped a bus to Cali. Jorge got off in one spot, while Santiago and I continued on to his in-law’s place to pick some things and drop my large backpack. He told me that I should not travel with all my luggage. I quickly re-arranged my bags and took my small pack. We jumped a taxi and met back up with Jorge. From the street, we got a bus to BV. Just before BV, Jorge and I got off at the stop at the base of the mountain. Santiago continued on to BV and Jorge and I met with the lady who lives at the research/base in Pericos. We followed her up the mountain, trekking for about one hour. Thank god I didn’t take my large pack. It was extremely steep, hot and humid. With my small pack, I thought I was going to die. There would have been no way.
Home of Simon Bolivar
Jorge and I finally arrived, rested for a bit and did a bit of trekking through the forest. Never in my life I thought I would get a chance to see the Pacific rainforest. It was amazing beyond words. The first trek was to Mirador. The view was magnificent. Mountains all around, some still covered in clouds. There was constant moisture. Amazing plants and trees, alone with the earth, the smell of trees …a freshness and awe beyond words. We spent the night and got up the next morning to do one last trek before heading back down the mountain. Santiago came later that evening and left early the next morning as he was dealing with the issue of some lost biologist students and their guide. I later learned that all was ok. …. But, Jorge and I didn’t see much of him while we were there.
Morning after Shaman ceremony
So glad Jorge made the trip or I wouldn’t have trekked the mountain alone. Anyways, that next morning after finishing a trek up to the cascade, we returned to collect our things and head back down the mountain. We said our goodbyes • he left for Cali and I got a bus to BV. From BV, I walked to the boat peer. I made the mistake of taking the short cut that was heavily guarded. Don’t know what was there, but the was military everywhere and I had my bags checked so many times. I looked a mess and maybe a bit suspect. I was with my packs and still wearing my rubber boots as I didn’t change after the trek down the mountain. One police made a remark about the boots while delving deep in my bags.

I finally made it to the peer and took a boat to Juanchaco/Ladrilleros to meet Margarita. You can only get there by boat, which takes about one hour. Her and some friends met me at the dock. While she finished some work, I was toured round the village/beach by one of her friends. We then caught a moto up to where her house was • located on a cliff overlooking the ocean …. so amazing. I stayed there with her for two nights to get to know the environmental projects she is working on and the area. Traveling back and forth between her home and town, we had to call for a moto or walk down the mountain side to the beach and cross by beach …. which was quicker than walking the other way. The projects were very interesting and again …. learned a lot.

After two days, I took the boat back. It rained a lot and that morning, the ocean was extremely rough. I was again so glad that I didn’t take all my luggage. While trying to get on the boat, the waves began to separate the boat from the peer and I almost landed in the water, practically dislocated my arm trying to get on the boat. For a while, I was concerned I may have done damage to my arm, but all ok in the end. Journeyed back to BV by boat and walked from the peer back to the bus terminal and caught the next bus back to Cali. In Cali, I taxied back to Santiago’s in-laws and collected my luggage. I crashed there for one night, went salsa dancing with him and his father-in-law and left early the next morning for the terminal. Hopped the first bus to Ipiales, the border town near Ecuador, which was about 12 hours. There were border problems between Colombia and Ecuador, but again all was ok before I made my way to the border • thank god. I took a cheap hotel room for the night and left really early. Ipiales was extremely cold. The cold shower early in the morning was lethal. From Ipiales, a taxi to the border crossing. You have to exit on the Colombian side, walk across the bridge and enter on the Ecuadorian side. No problems. Caught a taxi to the border town of Tulcan in Ecuador and from there hopped a bus to Quito. I have to say that the Lonely Planet travel guides are a life-saver. That experience was freakin’ bizarre. There were four people grabbing my luggage and trying to carry my luggage to their buses that were leaving the terminal. It was a frenzy of trying to settle up with the taxi who was saying he didn’t have change, four people grabbing at my luggage, trying to negotiate bus fares with everyone, while trying to get my freakin’ change from the taxi and not lose my luggage. I was yelling at them to let my bags go. I finally managed to get a cheap bus fair to Quito.

That is something Colombians just wouldn’t do. Although you may be hassled a bit, but from what I’ve seen Colombians are much more refined to start grabbing and fighting over someone’s luggage.

The ride to Quito was again longer than I thought. I was a bit in a panic as I told this couple that I was going to stay with in Quito that I would be there in the afternoon. I wanted to be at their place in time to travel with them to a Shaman ceremony that night. I finally landed in Quito and grabbed a taxi to their place, arriving there around 3:00. Three hours later, we had gathered our things and were on our way to pick up some of their friends and head up the mountain to where the ceremony was going to take place.

Interestingly enough, the place happened to be one of the homes of Simon Bolivar. The home and the land was handed down to the lady who was hosting the ceremony. The ceremony lasted all night. Everyone takes Ayawaska, the medicinal plant and the Shaman guides you through the experience. That was one of the most amazing experiences of my life. So many things became clear. My journey throughout the night was something I would never have imagined. There was some serious spiritual battles going on, but I could feel myself being cared for and guided throughout the night. There is no way to go into detail about the ceremony.

One thing I do know is that my stay while here in Ecuador is going to continue me on a very spiritual journey. I look forward to what new things are to come and where the journey will take me next.

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Popayan, Colombia: My cabin in Atl…
Popayan, Colombia: My cabin in At…
Buena Ventura: Pericos Nature pres…
Buena Ventura: Pericos Nature pre…
Ladrilleros, Colombia: View from b…
Ladrilleros, Colombia: View from …
Home of Simon Bolivar
Home of Simon Bolivar
Morning after Shaman ceremony
Morning after Shaman ceremony
photo by: Bluetraveler