After our brief sojourn at the lake we then headed north to Popayan. The bus trip was pretty uneventful other than it being a very windy road and we had the smelliest Colombian sitting behind us. So much so that I had to spend the majority of the 6 hour trip with my hoodie over my nose. It wasn’t very pleasant…….
On arrival to Popayan and fresh air, we were treated to another beautiful colonial white washed city. Apparently it is Colombia’s second biggest colonial old town after Cartagena. It was really pretty with all the buildings being a crisp whiter than white. The central square has palms and shay trees lining it where everyone chills. We were meeting Bill and Emma for dinner and we found a really nice steak house. Apparently Popayan is Colombia’s culinary capital and our steaks were delicious!
The next day was spent cruising around the streets soaking in the atmosphere. We managed to treat ourselves to a wonderful coffee as well which was a godsend. I must admit that although the buzz of the place was contagious, we have seen so many stunning churches and buildings that Popayan fell a little short. But we still enjoyed strolling around and taking it easy for the day. On every street corner there are fruit vendors selling all manor of fruit, with some selling cups of fruit salad for 1000 pesos which is the equivalent of 30 cents! Needless to say I am loving this. The centre of Popayan is a grid with Calles going one way and Cerraras the other. There are no traffic lights but heaps of traffic, so this created quite a spectacle. We think we figured out that cerraras had right of way over calles. Though it was more that if there was a stream of traffic going they just wouldn’t stop. It also made crossing the road quite difficult!
Since crossing the border everything has definitely gotten a lot cheaper. Pretty close to Bolivian prices which is a bonus! Our hostel here which is more a hotel and really nice is costing us $26 a night. Ah the luxury.
We then utilized the afternoon to work out a basic timeline for the rest of our trip and realized that our original Colombian plan was about a week too long. We were supposed to be going back south to San Augustin to see some archeological sights with Bill and Emma and then into the desert but that plan was soon scrapped. We have decided to head north into the coffee plantations so unfortunately we think we have said goodbye to Bill and Emma for the foreseeable future.
We managed to stumble across a very funky little salsa bar during the night. Although it was quiet, the atmosphere was great and the place had lots of eclectic furniture and trinkets. The owner’s collection of vinyl was impressive and the salsa tunes where contagious.
A few things that I have noticed straight away about Colombia. Everyone talks a lot faster than the rest of South America and they have trouble understanding our pigeon Spanish. We have had one or two food fails here with things being lost in translation. Queuing is not really done here. We were lulled into a false sense of security on this front in Ecuador. I got caught in a little market stall for a good 10 minutes with ladies half my size just yelling orders behind me. I have since realized that rather than waiting to be served you just have to start yelling your order. Also no hesitation can be made either or someone else will be served. Colombians as a nation are a very friendly and helpful people. People stop us in the street and ask where we are from and at places like the bus station people come over to us and ask us where we want to go and take us to the correct counter.
Colombia so far has been a wonderful assault on all the senses. Except for the smelly man. He wasn’t so wonderful. S
The central square.
One of the churches
I thought I was ordering a fruit salad. Turns out it was the ice cream fruit salad with marshmallows and cheese. Yes grated cheese. Not my favourite breakfast.
We stumbled across this and thought it was very cool. Unsure if it was meant for the strays in the city or the pets of the city but either way I am sure they all utilised it.
The salsa bar.