A Travellerspoint blog

A bit of Caribbean Flavour

and another tour disaster

sunny

We had to change buses at about 10:30pm in a place called Bucaramanga and from then on things weren't so comfortable. This wasn't due to the condition of the bus, it was all because of the a/c which was turned up so high our teeth were chattering. Obviously this didn't make for the best sleeping conditions and although the bus was so empty we could have two seats to ourselves, we still got hardly any sleep. I was very thankful when we arrived in Santa Marta and we could swap the Artic for the Caribbean.

It was early morning and with such little sleep we just wanted to crash for a while. With this in mind we got a taxi to take us in to town and ended up staying at the first place we looked at, our decision was made a little bit easier as it was dirt cheap. Unfortunately sleep did not come easily to either of us and we were both quite hungry so we decided to go out. First we walked down to the sea which was very close and with a certain image of the Caribbean in my head I must admit I was a little bit disappointed. The sea was not turquoise, the beach was not a blanket of white and there were not a trillion palm trees. To be honest Santa Marta beach is not very attractive, it is pretty small and nondescript with a port right next to it. We did get to see a massive cruise ship arriving though which was kind of cool and later on we saw the cruisers all milling about in an enclosed pen.
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After a little walk along the sea front we went to inspect the town which was alright but again nothing special. Some narrow streets lined with fruit and juice sellers, then a busier market area selling all sorts and a few churches dotted about. Santa Marta was a little bit rough which went against my images, its name seems to imply something slightly grander. When lunch time arrived we did find a really good restaurant; the food was extremely tasty and the price incredibly reasonable. There were even some parrots which helped us feel like we were somewhere exotic, they had they're winds clipped though which we thought was a bit of a shame. The rest of our time in Santa Marta was just spent mooching about the market and figuring out where to go next using the hostels Wifi.

Thanks to our research we made the decision to head fifteen minutes down the coast to El Rodedero which is where most Colombians head for their beach holidays. When we arrived there were plenty of people on the street trying to help us find accommodation, most of which was apartments. We checked a few out but they were generally in pretty bad condition and the prices were high, especially if you wanted a sea view. In the end we got a fairly good price on a ground floor one close to the beach, it was a little bit like a hovel with windows so high up you couldn't see out of them but it would do. That first day was spent getting our bearings and taking it easy, as we planned to take a boat trip to Playa Blanca (White Beach) the next morning. We were much happier with the El Rodedero beach, it was much bigger and was flanked by a palm tree lined walkway.
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The water was perhaps not as clear as we'd imagined or hoped but there was definitely a much better atmosphere. Again finding inexpensive food was an issue, we had been expecting there to be an abundance of cheap fish but this didn't seem to be the case. Instead that evening we ate kebabs and pizza cooked on little mobile stalls set up along the sea front and went to bed feeling a bit naughty.

It wasn't difficult to find about trips to Playa Blanca, as soon as we stepped on to the street we were being asked. During our research we'd found out what a ticket should cost and so we were a bit miffed when someone tried to sell us two tickets for the price of hiring an entire boat. Adam suggested that we walk down to the dock and wait to be approached again. The tactic worked and soon we were on a small boat with other holiday makers on our way to Playa Blanca.

Considering that neither Adam or I are exactly beach bums, i.e. we get bored of sunbathing quite quickly, we had a really good day. The sand wasn't white, but it was soft and a little bit gritty so it didn't go everywhere which I saw as a definite bonus.DSC00159

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We hired a couple of deck chairs under a little shelter and set up shop for the day. We'd brought a bit of food with us so we weren't tempted to eat in one of the pricey beach side restaurants, but we did buy a couple of prawn cocktails off a little man called Pedro who walked up and down the beach with a cooler box. Apart from sunbathing and consuming classic 1970's cuisine we lolled about in the warm water quite a bit and listened to music. Feeling a tad lazy before heading back to El Rodedero we decided to climb the steep hill behind the beach as apparently there were great views to Santa Marta from there. Well we couldn't really see Santa Marta, it was quite some distance away and was shrouded in cloud but it was nice to be up high nonetheless.
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Once back in El Rodedero we set about scouting out some new accommodation because the dingy apartment was making us feel depressed. We found a good hotel and although it was a bit more expensive, the room had big windows and a balcony so it seemed like a good option, we would make a decision in the morning.

Although the hotel was really good we still kind of held out hope for a nice apartment, high up with sea views and so we allowed a boy to ferry us round to different buildings. Despite walking round for what seemed like forever we only saw one apartment which on first sight looked quite promising but when you looked closer it was horrible. The main problem was it just hadn't been taken care of, the kitchen was a state, the beds were all broken and crammed into small rooms. There was a large balcony and if you looked passed one high rise you could see the sea but Adam quickly established that it would be in the shade for most of the day. All in all it was not for us and in the end we checked in at the hotel.

For the rest of the day we just stayed in El Rodedero and did some more of our usual um-ing and ah-ing over what to do next. Parque Tayrona is a national park about 30 kms from Santa Marta and is supposedly beautiful. You can sleep in hammocks under shelters which are on, according to some, the best beaches in the world. All of this sounds lovely on the surface and we were tempted but there were a few other factors to consider. The best beaches could be reached by boat but then you have to hike for around an hour and a half to get out and by now my knee was as bad as it had been in Bolivia so this didn't really seem like an option. Also sleeping on the beach may be nice but there are mosquitoes and my seaside nemesis, sand. Mainly due to my knee being bad the following day we're were lured on to a tour. The one which was described to us including visiting three beaches, Playa Grande, Playa Cristal and another one I can't remember. This was a little pricey and so we walked away but were followed and told it was cheaper to go on this rustic, open sided bus. The price for this seemed more reasonable and on we got.
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It drove around El Rodedero for ages picking people up from various hotels and they really packed us in. Just before we were about to head off a guide of some sort got on and we all had to say our names and where we were from. We got the loudest cheer as we were the only ones from outside South America. As we headed off to Santa Marta where we picked yet more people up, we were given a very, very brief tour in Spanish and I felt a bit an unsure of what the day would hold. I couldn't quite put my finger on it, perhaps I was just a bit down about my knee but I had a feelings things wouldn't be as simple as they appeared to be.

We stopped at a small lookout on the road to Taganga which is a seaside village/town popular with backpackers.
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The sea did look a little more inviting here and I felt a small glimmer of hope that we might end up on a beautiful beach. In Taganga we climbed into the first speed boat and this is where things went downhill. We barely went any way along the coast before pulling into a tiny beach which was ironically named Playa Grande (Big Beach) and everyone filed off. Here we were directed into a large wooden shack, of which there were many, all of them restaurants and we sat at a wooden table. Then something was explained quickly in Spanish and a women came round with a couple of exorbitantly priced fish on a platter so we could choose which we wanted for our lunch. We just declined. We left the shack and looked at this tiny beach we were all packed on to and were incredibly disheartened. This is not where we wanted to spend the day. We sat on the beach for a few minutes and Adam perfectly described the sand which was like the grit you find at a building sit and pondered what to do. After a little bit of discussion I went up to one of the guides and asked when we would be going to Playa Cristal. He looked a little confused and then said, we weren't, 'solo Playa Blanca'. Great.

We came to the conclusion that we would rather sit on El Rodedero beach than here, so we quickly jumped in a boat going back to Taganga and were soon on a bus bound for Santa Marta. By now it was lunch time so we went back to the restaurant we'd visited on our first day and had the best almuerzo of our entire trip.
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I couldn't actually believe how lovely it all was and it only cost £2 for fish soup, a main of fish with lots of sides, a little desert and two glasses of juice each. Yum yum.
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Once we had eaten we stood waiting for a bus back to El Rodedero and I noticed that the one we got on also went to the airport. We had read about a beach near the airport which was meant to be much more laid back and really only visited by locals, so this is where we went. The other draw was the fact that planes are basically meant to come into land right over your head which Adam really wanted to experience. Playa de Aeropuerto was much, much quieter and a hundred times nicer than Playa Grande. We only stayed there for a short while because well, we got a bit bored and there didn't seem to be much going on at the airport, we could have waited a long time for a plane to take-off/land. It was nice to see it though.

Once back in El Rodedero we sat on the beach for a while but it was really busy as it was a Saturday and so in the end we went back to the hotel. In the evening Adam popped out to buy a whole chicken and we munched that down in the room while watching cable tv. Then it was fairly early to bed as we were moving west to Cartagena in the morning.

More Soon,

Laura & Adam

Posted by LauHot10 06:34 Archived in Colombia Tagged round_the_world Comments (0)

A little stop on the way up North

this is where we saw the dinosaurs

sunny

Our little stop was in Villa de Leiva, a colonial town about 3 hours north of Bogota. On a Sunday (the day we left) Bogota transforms itself into activity central and many of the roads are closed to cars and are instead flooded with walker, bikers and rollerbladers. It is quite impressive and we saw a lot of people raising their blood pressure as we departed.

We arrived at Villa de Leiva in the late afternoon and walked through a large part of it in of search a room. The buildings are very similar to those we saw in Popayan, white and a lot of them single storey. Villa de Leiva's biggest claim to fame though is their plaza which apparently is one of the largest in the Americas and there was a giant inflatable space shuttle in it while we were there.
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This is just a weekend thing though, when the town comes alive as it is flooded with tourists and weekenders from Bogota. We just caught the tail end of this as it was Sunday afternoon but you could definitely feel that it was a tourist orientated place, which gave it a very different feel from Popayan. Also for this reason finding cheap accommodation was basically impossible and we ended up spending more than we have anywhere in Colombia. It was a nice room though.

We achieved very little for the rest of the day apart from feeding ourselves. I never thought that I would get sick of eating out but it really has happened and so we try to mix it up with going to the supermarket but when you have no cooking facilities your options are somewhat limited. I have to say though the tuna and mayonnaise sandwiches I gobbled down that night were like an amazing treat.

By morning we had already come to the decision that we would move on again in the afternoon. For this reason we got up quite early so we could have a proper look round the town which didn't take too long as it isn't very big.
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We saw a sheep tied to a fence and stopped to have a little chat, I of course had to touch it. Then we had to leave pretty quickly because it was baa-ing at us a lot and I was getting sad that it didn't have any friends.
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We briefly looked in a few of the artisan shops but decided it would all be overpriced. After our look round we went back to the hotel to collect our bags and went in search of a taxi as there was one other thing we wanted to see before leaving.

The valley to the west of Villa de Leiva is abound with fossils and in 1977 they found the fossil of a a dinosaur, a Kronosaurus. It now has a museum built around it and after some hard bargaining we got a taxi to take us there. I wasn't quite sure what to expect and was really impressed when I saw it, it's massive and really quite well preserved.
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We were the only ones there so we could get photos without other visitors which is nice and there were lots of other fossils to have a look at.
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They found another Kronosaurus fossil in 2000 which has also been placed in the museum, this one is a bit smaller though. They were strange looking things which lived in the sea when the whole valley was underwater, hard to believe anything like that ever existed.

After our little historical interlude the taxi took us back to the bus station and we made the 45 minute journey back to the town of Tunja which sits of the main highway north. Here we managed to secure a couple of seats on a pricey bus to Santa Marta which was leaving in an hour or so. Just enough time to eat a rather disappointing almuerzo and by some snacks for the trip. The sting from the price of the tickets was somewhat eased when we boarded the bus as it was very plush, certainly the nicest we'd been on in Colombia. We just hoped the next 16 hours went by quickly.

More Soon,

Laura & Adam

Posted by LauHot10 06:33 Archived in Colombia Tagged round_the_world Comments (0)

The Colombian Capital

can you tell we're running out of inspiration??

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The journey to Bogota was long and windy as we had to go over the Andes once more and it was dark by the time we reached the capital. At the bus station we popped into the tourist office to get a map and the man working there took us down to put us in a taxi. Taxis from the bus stations in Bogota are very good as you give the address to kind of dispatcher who types it into a computer and then hands you a receipt with the fare printed on it. We were heading to La Candelaria which is in the historic centre of the city. It was a long ride and we had our first introduction to Bogota traffic which is a nightmare. Finally we arrived at a hostel that Lily had given us a card for but as soon as we entered we knew it wasn't for us, a bit too backpackery. As it turned out it was full apart from a couple of beds in a 4 person dorm and they wanted £6.50 for each of them. We declined but one of the guys behind the desk, both of which were Aussie said he would ring round for us to see who had some space as it was getting late, which was kind of him. While he was doing that the other guy asked us where we were from and when we said 'England,' he replied with 'Oh I feel sorry for you.' When we asked him, slightly dumbstruck as to why he felt this way, he simply said 'Well I'm from Australia' as if that explained everything. Now I wouldn't say either Adam or I was massively patriotic but this kind of got our backs up and reconfirmed why we really didn't want to be staying at the Cranky Croc Hostel.

We ended up with a rather expensive room at Platypus Hostel, another guidebook favourite but it was only for the night. Walking around Bogota when we popped out to get some dinner we were really taken aback by how many Westerners we saw. In Ecuador and the south of Colombia we had hardly seen any so this was a bit out of the blue. After quickly locating a little takeaway we made our way back to the hostel with food in hand and called it a night. In the morning we got up as early as we could muster and set about finding alternative accommodation. It took a little while but in the end we stumbled across Hotel Internacional. It didn't look like too much from the outside but we were pleasantly surprised with how clean and fresh it looked inside, as if it had been recently renovated. We secured a room and went back to collect our stuff.

Our first couple of days in Bogota were really spent getting to grips with the city and also trying to track down various things. It is a very big place with lots and lots of different districts catering to different needs. Both Adam and I wanted to try and get a leather jacket made and Adam also wanted another tailored suit. Our first attempts at finding the leather district and separate material district were unsuccessful. The guidebook lied about the location of the leather shops and information about material shops and tailors was sparse. Conscious that taxi would mount up we tried to make use of the award winning Transmileno bus system which runs throughout the capital. Unfortunately it all seemed very confusing with no definitive map and a lot of letters and numbers which didn't make sense. As my knee was getting more and more swollen we ended up falling back on to taxis which actually turned out to be quite fairly priced and all run on a meter.

By chance we passed through the leather district which was a bit of bonus and soon enough we were faced with the daunting task of trying to explain in Spanish what we wanted. This was a little easier for me because the first jacket I tried on was almost exactly what I wanted it was just a bit small. For Adam though it was a little trickier. In the end with the use of the English to Spanish dictionary, some pointing and our basic grasp of the language we got there. Thankfully we were ordering it from a lovely lady called Leonora who seemed genuinely interested in helping us get what we wanted and we both left with a fairly confident feeling.

Finding suit material and a tailor was even more tricky. We asked a couple of taxi drivers, one of which spoke really good English as he had lived in America for a few years and we were pretty sure we were on to a winner. However once out of the taxi we discovered most of the shops sold curtain material. In the end we it was a couple of streets we'd walked down numerous times that seemed to have more shops than anywhere else in fact when we looked a little closer we discovered there were more than we'd realised. One shop we looked in took us to a nearby tailor so we could establish how much material would be needed. The tailor was quite a young man and he seemed to understand what Adam was looking for. With the tailor found all that was needed was the material and Adam bought it from a very jolly fellow who seemed to like the fact that we were trying to speak Spanish and took quite an interest in our dictionary. We negotiated a bit of a discount and he gave us a sweet when we left, a pleasant shopping experience.

On our various excursions throughout the city I came to quite like Bogota. The Candelaria or Centro area of the city is the most picturesque as it is full of old buildings, narrow streets and big avenues but the whole place has a vibrant feel about it, there are certainly a lot of people. Unfortunately the homeless population is really quite high, I don't think in any other place we've visited I've seen more people on the street. It is always hard to know who to give your money to, as you don't want to be feeding someone's addiction. We've eaten at the same chicken place a few times and there tends to be the same old chap outside it, we like to give him a bit, he's always very grateful.

When we left Bogota after three full days we made a reservation to stay in the same hotel for when we returned. We were planning to give ourselves about 5 days before our flight to pick up the jackets, the suit and buy various bits and bobs. Neither of us was very excited about the thought of a 20 hour journey up to the northern Caribbean coast and back but we were longing to see some lovely, pristine beaches and clear blue water. We were just going to make a little stop on the way to break things up.

More Soon,

Laura & Adam

Posted by LauHot10 06:30 Archived in Colombia Tagged round_the_world Comments (0)

Getting high in Colombia

the caffeine way

sunny

Coffee is obviously one of the things Colombia is most famous for and our next stop was within the Zona Cafetera (the coffee growing area). We first caught a bus to Armenia and then from here caught a local bus to Salento a small town in the hills. Which was the perfect remedy to humid, busy, unattractive Cali. Salento is made up of a plaza and little cobbled streets lined with brightly painting buildings.
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There is a hill overlooking the town and its surroundings which you can climb, the views are lovely but perhaps not the 'best in Colombia' as our guide book claimed. You can also take a jeep from here to the Corcora Valley where 80ft palm trees grow.

However our first objective as always was to find a room and we were initially disheartened when the first place we asked wanted 3.5 times what we'd paid in Cali. Luckily for us though someone pointed us towards Lily's Hostel which he said was 'mas economical' and it was, although still higher than Cali but it did come with Lily which made a difference. Once we'd dropped our bags we were given a cup of coffee each and we sat in the hostel's small garden with the owner Lily and she began to chat to us in Spanish. As per usual we could understand more than we could say but we have definitely improved and we communicated pretty effectively. Lily was a very vibrant person, laid back in a kind of hippy/alternative way but obviously intelligent and very kind. After our chat, Adam and I went off for some food and tried something new. In Colombia they eat a lot of Arepa which is a very small, round, kind of pancake made of corn. It is pretty tasteless and generally I can't see the appeal but in this case it was much bigger and full of a yummy chicken mixture.
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We woofed these down while standing on a small bridge looking at the scenery, Adam also devoured a bbq-ed banana.

After lunch we had a little look round the numerous craft and coffee shops. Salento is definitely touristy but thankfully not over run, atleast not while we were there. Things were generally a little expensive for us and we were going to try to not buy things until closer to the end of the trip so we didn't have to carry them. Nevertheless it was nice to look and maybe get ideas for later, you do tend to see the same things everywhere you go. When we had had our fill of browsing we decided to climb the 200 steps to reach the top of the hill.
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At the top there was a small playground set and a couple of guys doing chin ups on them. We walked over to a lone set of swings and ignoring the screeches they made in protest had a bit of childlike moment. I don't think I've ever swung in such lovely surroundings before though.
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Just as we'd come to a stop a string of kids doing cross country passed by, their progress gradually slowly with each child until the ones at the back were walking, I could identify with them. We walked a little higher up to see things from a different perspective before heading back down to the hostel.
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We were a little slow the following morning but were soon energised by a cup of Lily's seriously strong coffee. So much so that I was left with a headache and then shakes, even Adam felt the affects. Due to our lazy start we were a little bit stuck when it came to visiting Corcora Valley as we'd missed all of the morning jeeps. Still not sure what to do we went to get some lunch and were surprised by how nice the almuerzo (or Menu del Dia as they call in it in Colombia) we were served was. It even included mashed potato, which I then realised I had really missed. After lunch we came to the decision that we would start walking towards the valley and see how far we got.
The valley was 7 miles away and the walk was along a country road with steep hills covered in farmland and palm trees on either side.
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We kept up a reasonable pace because if we did make it all the way then the last jeep back was at 5pm and we left Salento at 2pm. For about the first 4 miles it was pretty easy going, there was a general upwards gradient but nothing too strenuous and the scenery was lovely. As we'd now gone this far we thought we may as well go all the way. Things seemed to get tougher after we'd made this decision, the road began to rise ahead of us and soon enough it had gone from tarmac to rubble which my knees did not appreciate. Whereas the first few miles had gone quickly the last two seemed to go on forever, around every bend we presumed we must be there but were instead confronted with more road. A car that had passed on their way to the valley hooted their horn on the way back.

Finally though after about two and a half hours of walking we made it to the valley and saw the distant hills which were littered with giant palms, the national tree of Colombia.
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We had little energy to walk anywhere else so we just bought a well deserved drink and gazed about us from a bench. Then just before 5pm we jumped into the back of the jeep and watched our afternoons walk flash by in reverse, all of it over in about 20 minutes. We bought a few snacks on the way back to Lilly's were we collapsed and didn't really move for the rest of the evening.

The following morning after another cup of caffeine we waved a fond farewell to Lily and returned to Armenia where we quickly jumped on a bus to Bogota.
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More Soon,

Laura & Adam

Posted by LauHot10 06:28 Archived in Colombia Tagged round_the_world Comments (0)

The Southern Cities

one better than the rest

sunny

Getting to the Ecuador/Colombia border was fairly quick and pain free however when we reached Ecuadorian immigration things almost ground to a complete halt. There was a massive queue which stretched out of the building, mostly made up of Herbalife volunteers, which had been the company with the function at the equator in Quito. When we finally got inside we clocked that there were only two officials on the desk and one of them kept leaving. At one point a guy came up to us and asked if we spoke English, when we replied yes he asked how long we'd been waiting. By now it had been over an hour and we sighed our response to him. He looked annoyed and said he'd just asked an immigration officer if there was a system and he had replied almost with pride that there was no system whatsoever. People arriving and departing were all herded in together. Lovely.

Thankfully when we reached Colombia the queue had magically disappeared and we got through very quickly.
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On the bus we'd been discussing the possibility of trying to change our flight home to somewhere closer than Mexico, perhaps even from Colombia. We were running out of time to make it all the way through Central America and the flights were ridiculously expensive. For this reason we asked if we could have 60 days in Colombia instead of the usual 30, which we were granted with no fuss or questions. With border formalities negotiated we hopped into a taxi to the bus terminal in the Colombian border town of Ipiales. Neither of us had the energy to sit on a bus for hours and it was getting quite late in the day so we decided to go about two hours north to the town of Pasto.

In Pasto we took a taxi to a hotel in the guidebook and were given a fairly large room. Unfortunately the mattress was suffering from a condition we have encountered numerous times, concavity and as is the case with most beds in Colombia the bottom sheet never stayed on throughout the night. However on the upside Adam did locate an unsecured wireless network when he propped the laptop on an unusually high window sill. We would spend a fair amount of time over the next couple of days kneeling on a table in order to make use of it. We went out to find some food which we quickly established can be very expensive in Colombia. A whole pizza was £10-15, significantly more than we'd be paying anywhere else. So we settled for a couple of sausages on sticks instead.

We spent two full days in Pasto and I have to say saw nothing of it really apart from the immediate area outside our hotel when we went in search of food. From what we did see it seemed like an active little town, but slightly grey and not exactly picturesque. That said we didn't really explore it so I'm not really in a position to judge. Our time was instead taken up with sorting out how we were going to get home. We had reached crunch time, neither of us were going to be able to relax and enjoy the rest of our trip unless we knew what we were doing. So in the end when we had spoken to various different people; our travel agency, British Airways and finally numerous employees at Quantas we managed to change our flight back from Mexico to Miami. With this task complete we booked the cheap flight Adam had found from Bogota to Miami and all that was left to do was apply on the Visa Waiver website so we could enter the US. Hard to believe it took two days but once it was done we were incredibly relieved and were ready to move on the next day.

Our next stop in Colombia was the small colonial town of Popayan which is really very beautiful. All the streets in the centre are lined with rows of bright white, terraced buildings with dark wood detailing. The roads were a little confusing and as with almost all towns/cities in Colombia they are numbered rather than named. Generally those running north to south are called Carreras which tend to be the main streets and then they are divided up into blocks, east to west by Calles, I suppose it is a bit like New York but only numbers are used. Buildings are then numbered in blocks, starting from one again when a new block commences. It's a little confusing to begin with but it does make quite good sense. Once we had navigated our way through the confusion we found a small one storey hotel which was quite clean and modern. A little more expensive than we'd have liked but she did give us a bit of discount. By the time we'd settled in there wasn't much left of the day so we just popped out for a quick walk around the dark streets. There was a little light display going on in the main plaza as different coloured lights transformed the white buildings.
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We stood and watched for a little while and I was struck by how much more modern and wealthy Colombia already felt in comparison to most of what we'd seen in Ecuador. On the way back to the room we bought our dinner of meat kebabs that were being cooked on little bbqs set out along the pavements.

The next day we spent the morning exploring Popayan on foot. It really was very pretty and although clearly a stop on the tourist trail it just felt like a normal place unlike another colonial town we were yet to visit.
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Unfortunately for me though my knee was beginning to play up again and so I couldn't do too much walking around. We decided to take a break at a coffee shop so Adam could sample some proper Colombian coffee, the first one he'd had in Pasto had been more than disappointing. Juan Valdez Cafe is Colombia's answer to Starbucks or Costa and they had a prime location in Popayan.
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The shop was inside a really old building with an outside seating area within an inner courtyard and to top it off there were a few palm trees looming over head providing shade. The coffee was much more to Adam's liking and we relaxed there for quite a while.

When we made it back onto the main plaza there was a massive riot van parked in one corner which seemed very out of place in these tranquil surroundings.
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We went over to have a look and managed to discretely snap a picture, we weren't sure whether the army men would have liked that too much. Then we began to notice that lots of streets were cornered off and there were officials all over the place. Finally it all made sense when we saw a massive procession of motorbike taxis, hundreds of them slowly making their way through the streets. It was obviously some kind of protest as they were doing a bit of chanting but it seemed fairly peaceful and well under control. After the protest we walked round some more and popped into the supermarket to buy some lunch. Then we went back to the hostel where we relaxed in our room and tried to help get their internet/wifi working for them with little success. When evening arrived and it was time for dinner we popped back to the supermarket and bought from the street stalls, eating cheaply in Colombia was going to be a bit tricky.

The next morning we moved further north to the town of Cali which in hindsight was the wrong decision, we should have gone to San Augustin which was to the north but on a different road. Arriving in Cali we were immediately hit by how much the temperature had increased which was not unpleasant. We found a really cheap room which we were happy about although it was very dark with no outside window and the top of the toilet had been converted into the sink so you had to fill the tank up yourself. Interesting idea. The area in which we were staying was clearly where all the bars were and we'd read that Cali was Salsa city. From what we could see though it just looked a little like a low budget Broad Street. We located a mall and attempted to go to the cinema but it was closed so we ate lunch and went back to the room. Neither of us could muster up much enthusiasm and we decided to explore further the next day. At night when we went out for dinner the atmosphere had definitely picked up but it all seemed fairly unappealing to us. There were greasy looking men trying to entice people in to the bars which were generally pretty empty. I think it kicked off later though because we could hear the pounding music from our room.

In the morning we got up reasonably early and went to have breakfast at a bakery. It was Sunday so we were wondering how much would be open but there seemed to be a few things. Then we walked over the river and into the centre. Here there was quite an impressive lilac church with intricately carved designs, we stopped to look for a little while before continuing on.
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We'd read in the guidebook that there was meant to be a pretty old quarter but we never really found it. There were a few old buildings but they were interspersed with newer constructions. A little disappointed we walked back the way we'd come and tried to find something attractive about Cali, there wasn't a lot. The park by the river was quite sweet and there seemed to be a number of families about enjoying the Sunday sun. In the end we decided to see if the cinema was open today which it was and we went to see The Wolfman which was seriously disappointing. The story was nothing new and the ending was very anti climatic. I kind of expected a little better from Mr Hopkins and Mr Torro. When the film had finished it was early evening so we just had a bite to eat before heading back to the hostel. We would be moving on again tomorrow.

More Soon,

Laura & Adam

Posted by LauHot10 06:24 Archived in Colombia Tagged round_the_world Comments (0)

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