Day 54 – Pasto, Colombia

Today we traveled from Popayan to Pasto.  The road started in a desert valley, following a river, and then went up through a spectacular canyon to Pasto, which is way up in the mountains.  The elevation change was so dramatic that the temperature changed from uncomfortably hot to uncomfortably cold in just a couple of hours.

The Colombian people continue to amaze us with their friendliness and hospitality.  Yesterday when we arrived in Popayan, we had made friends with a fellow motorcyclist before we had even stopped.  Camilo saw us looking lost in a traffic circle and we started chatting as we rode.  He led us a cheap safe hotel and a place to park our bikes.  After we had booked our room, he led us on a tour of Popayan, called the “White City” due to its colonial archetecture.  Apparently the region produces the most (and highest quality) cocaine in all of Columbia.

Camilo introduced us to his girlfriend, Maria Antionette, who spoke excellent English.  Maria is studying electrical engineering in Cali.  We parked the bikes, (Camilo made sure we took abosuletely everything into the hotel room) and the 4 of us went on a tour of Popayan in Maria’s car.  We ran out of gas, and Camilo had to go fill a bottle at a gas station.  Maria called him “terco” because she had told him that the tank was almost empty and he still didn’t fill up.  We try to learn at least one new Spanish word every day.  After a fantastic supper of a local favourite – plata de montanero – we hiked up a huge hill that had been built by the Indians.  We ended the night with a stop at a bar.

This morning we let Camilo ride our bikes.  He was excited like a kid before Christmas.  He has loved motorcycles his entire life, and likes to race.  He showed us that it’s possible to pop a wheelie on our bikes, luggage and all.  Ted and I have some practicing to do.  

Today, when we arrived in Pasto, we immediately made another friend.  A friendly guy riding a Honda 650 saw our motorcycles outside of a restaurant and came in to chat.  His brother is on a motorcycle trip from Argentina to Pasto, Colombia.  Who knows, maybe we’ll pass him somewhere in the Andes.  Our new friend wanted to know if we needed anything.  I said I needed new gloves.  In addition, we decided to spend the night in Pasto and wanted a cheap hotel.  While we ate, our friend went shopping for gloves, and found me a pair of leather guantlet style gloves for 33,000 pesos (about $16.50).

A girl, Angela, who works for a TV show that airs every Sunday saw us as well, and wanted to do a story about our trip.  She filmed our bikes, and even had the Honda rider take her as a passenger so she could film us riding.  Later, she came by our hotel room to interview us.  If you’re interested, we are going to be the feature this Sunday on a show called Sobre Ruesdas airing in Pasto, Columbia.

Tomorrow we plan to cross the border into Ecuador at Ipiales.  It will be hard to leave, because I have fallen in love with Columbia.  It is a stunningly beautiful country.  I would have loved it for it’s natural beauty alone.  But the warmth of its people is truly astounding.  I don’t understand how a country full of such hospitible and friendly people could have such a history of violence.  When Angela asked me to make a statement about our trip, I said that what has impacted me the most was how pleasantly surprised I was to find the people of Columbia so eager to help us.  Everywhere we stopped, people made us feel welcome.  It was so easy to make friends.  It is amazing that people are willing to give so much when they often have so little.

One thought on “Day 54 – Pasto, Colombia

  1. “Sobre Duesdas” eh? I’ll set up my digital recorder, but don’t think my service provider carries Columbian Televison…Damn.

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