The road to Colombia

[Above] Sitting on the back of a bus in Popayan with my hosts.

I finally made it to Colombia - my last stop before Central America. Though the journey wasn't easy.

First I had to wake up at 3.45am to get a taxi to the bus station for the 5a.m. bus leaving Quito. It was a 6-hour journey to Tulcan - the border town on the Ecuadorian side of the border - from where I rode in the back of a pick-up truck to Rumichaca (the border). From Rumichaca it was a mini-van to Ipiales - the border town on the Colombian side - where I took another bus to Popayan, my first destination in Colombia. Unfortunately the bus broke down 3 hours from Popayan and I had to wait for another to arrive.

After about half an hour the bus driver flagged down a shared taxi to take me and a few others the rest of the way. Once in Popayan I took another taxi to meet my host in town, and then another to go to her house.

So the tally is:
4 taxis
2 buses
1 mini-van
1 pick-up truck

Started the journey at 4a.m.
Finished the Journey at 10p.m.
Total time: 18 hours

[Above] I became friends with some of the passengers on the very first bus. When we disembarked at Tulcan we all realised that we were going the same way and so we travelled as a group of 12 thereafter. It was pretty great... they organised everything for me. I just sat around and enjoyed the ride. They even negotiated the bus fare for me and checked my bills when I exchanged money on the border - to ensure they weren't fake. It really felt like a big family and we had a lot of laughs together.

[Above] This is Jimmy. He's Colombian but he has been living and working in Buenos Aires. To save money he travels back to Colombia by bus rather than flying. He said it costs about US$250 one-way and takes 9 days of continuous travel. NINE!!! I don't think I'll ever complain about a long, bus ride again.

[Above and below] Some scenes from Popayan. It's very hot during the day but it usually rains in the afternoons, hence the cloudy, grey skies.

[Below] My very first Colombian coffee. Yes, it was delicious. Don't I look happy?

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