Great news! Linus let me sleep until 7:45!!! It was glorious. While I was snoozing, he took a walk to get a view of the city and take some photos. He didn’t seem that impressed, though. Popayan is a city of white buildings and museums in old houses and churches and a LOT of traffic. The hostel we stayed in was really nice and quiet. We enjoyed a simple breakfast in the cafe at the front of the hostel. I think Colombians are really small or Linus is really tall…
After breakfast we packed up and headed down the road towards the city of Pasto, our last stop before crossing into Ecuador. We picked our way through the crazy traffic of Popayan and eventually headed up and out of the crazy little city.
The road beyond Papayon was really pretty but, unfortunately, we encountered the same traffic that Linus spoke of yesterday. It took us about two hours to drive just 30 miles! Linus witnessed someone on a small motor bike have a near death experience while trying to pass a truck. Pure insanity! As much as Colombia has been my favorite country so far, it has also had the most insane drivers so far. Driving here has been incredibly intense and exhausting! Luckily, the road leveled out as it moved into the river bottoms of a large valley. We were able to drive at a much faster tempo and pass the trucks much more easily. At about the 100 mile mark for the day we stopped at a small road side place to eat some lunch. Comida tipica for super cheap.
We only had an hour or two more to drive before reaching our stopping place for the day. And those two hours were AMAZING. The scenery completely changed! All of the sudden we were driving along insanely deep gorges, the roads just pinned to the side of these huge mountains! I have to keep reminding myself that I am in the Andes.
I really enjoyed the change in climate today. We are now at about 6,000 feet above sea level and the climate feels more arid and dry. It is still incredibly green, but the foliage is much thinner and there are more cacti and yucca. I really like it, it’s nice to be out of the rainy and wet cloud forests. And the mountains just go on and on and on!
Linus found a nice hostel in a small mountain town called Chachagui, just north of Pasto, which is nice because that means we can drive around Pasto in the morning and avoid the chaos of driving through it. The hostel is a beautiful little sanctuary with nice gardens, a little pool, and a kitchen! When we drove inside the gates we met another KLR that is a lot dirtier than ours. The hostel owner said it belongs to a guy who stayed here about a year ago on his way south, and now he’s headed north! It has Washington plates. It’s getting late as I write, though, and we haven’t met the guy yet. He may just be left to our imaginations.
Tomorrow is border crossing day and Linus and I both agree that as much as we love Colombia, we are eager to move on and experience a new place. To sum it up, though, if you are looking for an awesome two week adventure, pack your backpack and head to Colombia! It’s beautiful, you have the Caribbean in the north, the Andes as you head south, the people are amazing, and we did not once feel unsafe.