I had my favorite cup of coffee yesterday; better than Starbucks, any independent cafe in the States, and even better than the men selling tinto on the streets here in Colombia. I got my cup at Juan Valdez and took it to the main plaza where i read The Fruit Palace
, a book about “The Great Cocaine Story.”
The bus ride to Popayan was interesting to say the least. I left on mothers day after walking around La Candelaria and the old center for a while. Everyone was outside walking, talking, and listening to live music.
But after a few hours i was ready to take my first long distance bus ride. I boarded a bus to Popayan. It took us 1 1/2 hours to leave Bogota as we circled the city tens of times picking up random passengers on the side of the road. Once on our way, I saw an overturned milk truck (bigger than one would imagine) blocking half of the entire two lane highway. Glad i wasn´t heading towards Bogota!
That’s another thing. Colombia is a mountainous country making it difficult to build roads. Instead of the 10 lane highways we are accustomed to in the States, Colombia’s highways consist of only 2 lanes that curve around mountains every 5 seconds of driving.
But unlike the U.S., buses here are great because you could be anywhere and a bus will stop to pick you up. For instance, at 3 am on the side of the highway in the middle of nowhere (not even in a small town) with nothing around, we passed a passenger. It was an accident actually as the bus backed up for a good 20 seconds to pick the person up. Yes, the bus drove backwards on the highway!
I also nearly had the opportunity to save the bus ride. The driver popped in the dvd I Am Legend but to everyone´s suprise it was all in english…including the dvd menu. That´s where I came in and told the bus attendent that i speak english and can point where to turn on the english subtitles. I felt so useful. That was until we tried turning on spanish subtitles 10 times and gave up since it clearly was not working. Instead we watched Life Is Beautiful, dubbed in Spanish. I also saw that it last August on another bus ride in Colombia.
After this little event, the passenger next to me, who we also picked up on the side of the highway, started talking at me really fast. I made her repeat herself 5-8 times until i understood. She was simply asking me what i am doing in Colombia but her accent was hard to understand. We got to talking about my travels, Colombia, her, etc. That´s when i got my first phone number in Colombia. She insisted we trade contact info and so now if i ever stop in Ibague i have a 49 year old woman..who i think says she works as a maid, to visit.
We stopped in Ibague for an hour for a break. After that, the ride was terrible. The roads felt like we were going down switchbacks full speed with all the curves. I really had to hang on to the armrest or i would have fallen out of my seat onto someone else. Subsequently, there was no way for me to fall asleep.
So after leaving Bogota at 3:30 pm we arrived in Popayan at 6:30 AM. I got a quick taxi to my hostel, rang on and off for 30 minutues with no answer, left, got a taxi to a new hostel, jumped into bed, and then feel asleep for the next 6 hours.
This is Popayan.
I explored the city for a while once i woke up. Its beautiful here. In the historical part of town, every building is painted white. Literally every building. After tiring myself from all of the walking, i grabbed my book and bought a Juan Valdez coffee to drink while i read in one of the plazas. It was so relaxing.
Later in the day i met a few people from my hostel and we got soup, rice, salad, and chicken all for $3000 pesos or about $1.75.
That brings me to today. I woke up early at 7 to get ready for a traditional market in Silvia. So four of us from the hostel took a 1 hour bus ride (curvy roads) until we reached Silvia.
We hiked up this small hill to one of the town’s many churches.
Crosses on hills are popular in South America.
Back in town, the action was just beginning. Pictured below is a chiva, an old artisan modified bus used in rural Colombia for publ
The market was traditional and not meant as a tourist attraction like many of the popular markets in South America…Otavalo, hippy market in Rio, etc. That also meant I did not find much to buy that interested me.
Here I am waiting near the bathroom for one of my buddies to finish.
Not only did they sell produce and clothing, but they also put on shows.
A church in town.
This poster can be found throughout small towns in Colombia. If you look closely, you will see some of them are crossed out.
But now i am back in Popayan where i plan to go to the hot springs nearby tomorrow morning and than catch a 3 hour bus ride to Cali.