Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Las Lajas to the border post

Colombia's border post with Ecuador was a busy place.  First stop: Colombian immigration; got exit stamps in the passports.  Then walked to the Ecuadorian immigration. Though many people were crossing that border in cars, there were a few crossing on foot.  The four of us were the only backpackers crossing into Ecuador; other backpackers were going the other way, from Ecuador to Colombia.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Las Lajas

Another view of the church and residential quarters at Las Lajas, against the backdrop of a mountain.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Friday, September 26, 2014

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Ipiales to Las Lajas

Reaching Ipiales we realized we had enough time to visit the renowned Las Lajas Sanctuary outside Ipiales, before crossing the border into Ecuador.  We started negotiating with a taxi.  The driver asked 8K for frontera and 7K for Las Lajas.  For both?  He said it would be 30K because he would have to wait for us at Las Lajas; settled on 25K with him.  On our way to Las Lajas we found many BBQ places roasting whole guinea pigs--it is a delicacy of that region; watching our interest in the BBQ the taxi driver suggested we pack a few guinea pigs for the road. 
We spent almost an hour at Santuario de Las Lajas.

Photo shows interior of the church at Las Lajas

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Pasto to Ipiales

Pasto to Ipiales
We traveled in the mountains; the weather was pleasant and clouds hugged the sky.  Just when we reached Ipiales there was a light drizzle;  and just then Colombia made its first goal against Costa Rica  It was time to celebrate; people hugged each other.

Photo shows Las Lajas and beyond

Friday, September 19, 2014

Las Lajas

What's so special about Santuario de Las Lajas?  Its architecture tailored for its setting.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Pasto to Ipiales

While we were putting our backpacks in the rear a young man came and sat on the back seat,   The driver told the young man 'completo', but he kept sitting there.  By that time we were done putting our luggage; we asked the young man to go to another seat as our small bags were already there, and the four of us wanted to sit together in the back.  He agreed and moved to a seat in front.

Photo shows Las Lajas.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Pasto to Ipiales

A short taxi ride to the terminal.  Man behind the counter for vans going to Ipiales looked at the four of us and quickly wrote 32K on a bill.  "Why 32K?", we asked.  We had two children with us and we should be paying for three people--don't two children count as one adult?  The man behind the counter did not argue and asked for viente-cuatro, without changing the amount on the bill.

Photo shows plaques at Las Lajas.

Sunday, September 14, 2014


In the morning we had breakfast in a restaurant downstairs.  TV showed preparations for Colombia vs Costa Rica soccer match; Colombian coach arrived at the stadium--a camera moved with him. Two people entered the restaurant--I thought they were from an African country.  On TV people with faces painted black danced wildly--must have been a dance that a popular Colombian soccer player of African descent dances; the two men in the restaurant laughed loudly at this imitation.

Photo shows plaques bearing names of businesses and people, at Las Lajas.

Saturday, September 13, 2014


Having traveled all day, wanted to eat at a good place in Pasto. Got recommendation for a 'La Merced Restaurant', on the Internet.  It did not appear too far.  Set up the address on mobile phone's GPS, and started walking.  Save for the smoke from the cars and trucks, the walk up and down on hilly streets was quite pleasant.  Went all the way on Carrera 22B, but did not find La Merced at the listed address.  Turned back and ate in Exito's cafeteria: tamale de pollo, corn roll with queso, and lasagna.

Photo shows Santuario de Las Lajas.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Popayan to Pasto

The afternoon was pretty warm, but it became quite pleasant once the sun set.  At night, Popoyan boasted a lively market scene around the main square.  Street vendors sold mouth-watering food served on plant leaves. We ate in a more established place--in a restaurant very close the main square.  Musicians came and entertained the restaurant customers--two young men, one woman; the woman played on a glass bottle and kept her gaze low.  Though singing in Spanish, they did not look local.  I wondered if they were Argentinians: backpackers trying to make some money along the way.
Left the restaurant and walked around to find the dessert we had seen people eating; we did not find it.  Took a peek inside a college being operated in an old building with a large courtyard.  Walking towards the church on the hill, we saw students learning computer skills in a cramped classroom.  Suddenly it started looking very deserted.  We turned back towards our hotel.  By then the small hotel looked more occupied.  Back in the room, we ate bananas bought earlier and now mostly squished, granadillas, papaya, and mango; transferred water from bolsa to a five liter bottle.

There was a lot of noise in the morning, and that woke me up.  Our room window opened in the courtyard and other guests were up early.  In the dining room a middle-aged woman in high heals moved fast and served us breakfast: cafe con leche, pan, margarine, marmalade, jugo de naranja.

There was not much to do in Popayan so we left for Pasto.  At the terminal bought 20K ticket to our next destination.  We were told it would take five hours to reach Pasto.  Only five hours?  Then why stay in Pasto, why not go all the way to Ipiales?  But we had already made a hotel reservation in Pasto. The bus left at 10:20 and traveled on a long curvy road.  It got very hot in the bus--must have been in the upper 80s.  We went over a plateau, and then came hills again. Now the temperature started dropping. By the time we reached Pasto, it was reasonably cold, probably in the mid 60s.

Photo shows Las Lajas in Ipiales.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Who are these nice people from Popayan?

We were lost in Popayan.  These two angels came to our rescue.  They walked with us for several kilometers, to take us to our hotel.  I should have asked their names and contact information, but I did not.  Wish there was someway to contact them and write them a big thank-you note.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Cali to Popayan

We rode this van to Popayan; Popayan is roughly 4 hours south of Cali.

Cali to Popayan

Inside Cali bus terminal.
After buying the ticket I wondered why I accepted the price offered to me, why didn't I negotiate.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Cali city tour

Starting from Iglesia La Ermita most points of tourist attraction of Cali, Colombia are at walking distance and can be covered in a day.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Teatro Municipal de Cali

Wikipedia tells me Cali's Municipal theater is now officially called El Teatro Municipal Enrique Buenaventura.  Enrique Buenaventura, famous actor and Cali's proud son, is allegedly buried on the premises of Teatro Municipal.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Cali's foundation

This is the place where Cali was founded as a city.  Like most South American cities Cali has a specific date it was founded on; that's normally the date a consquistador decided to start a settlement at that particular place.  Such a start-date obviously does not take into account the existence of native people who might be living in that area for many centuries.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Inside Iglesia Ermita

Iglesia Ermita may have a long history, but the building you see today is only seventy years old.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Iglesia La Ermita, Cali

We reached Cali at night and did not do much before going to the bed.  Next day we walked from Torre de Cali to the City Center.  Our first stop was Iglesia la Ermita.