A small valley
Departing from Popayan
was not that difficult, after two days of the carnaval, everything was covered in flour dust, my clothes and backpack were a mess, and I was in need of a break. Since I needed to carry my small backpack on the bus, I didn´t have time to wash it so it was still covered in flour, making me stand out even more. It was late morning by the time I got to the bus station and around 11am I was able to get on a bus to Ipiales
, about seven hours from Popayan. We were only on the road for about an hour when the bus stopped at some roadside restaurant for lunch. After about 30 minutes we resumed our journey south and quickly started ascending numerous hills.
That´s the road that we passed on, the line in the middle of the mountain
The scenery was about as spectacular as any road I´ve been on, towering lush green mountains plunging steeply into gorges dropping into riverbeds hundreds of feet below the road, more or less straight down. We wound our way up and down switchbacks, and through a few tunnels along this amazing scenery. There were waterfalls in the distance and waterfalls up close. I tried to take about a hundred pictures but through the dirty, semi-tinted windows of the moving bus with loads of vegetation on the roadside this was almost impossible. I was able to get a few decent photos but the enormity of the landscape surely escaped them. At one point we were traversing the spine of a mountain and on either side of the road there were practically vertical cliffs descending probably about 1000 feet to raging rivers. The scenery was like this for most of the five hours to Pasto
, when we magically rounded a mountainside and there was this little village set in a valley.
A river flowing through
There were still a few floats from the carnaval parades lingering in the roads and we only stopped briefly before continuing the extra two hours to Ipiales.
When we arrived in Ipiales we headed off from the bus terminal to find the hotel from the guidebook. Along the way we walked with a Colombian family on their way to Ecuador. They were happy to show us where to go and we had to stop in the main plaza so that they could have their pictures taken with us. So far, everyone in South America has been amazed by blue eyes, apparently it is the rarest of rare traits. So to be tall and white, with blue eyes makes you something akin to a unicorn down here. It was maybe 7pm when we got to the main street less than two blocks from where our hotel was located. The woman said that the area wasn´t that safe so she sent her young daughter and son with us to the hotel to make sure we arrived there. I protested but was ignored as she continued to insist. The area was perfectly safe at that time of day and we arrived without incident, one step closer to Ecuador.