My original idea was to go back from Cali to the North by plane, leaving a few things at Milton’s place, then come back and continue my trip down South. But the tickets proved to be quite expensive and I wasn’t really sure if the trip was well worth it. So, once again, I changed my plans and went directly in the direction of Ecuador, where I would find back Dorine for a few days. After that, I would fly to the Galapagos.
But first, I needed to go through the last portion of Colombia, making halts in the cities of Popayán and Ipiales, at the border with Ecuador.
This region happens to be the one where the guerilla is still active. Going through that road used to be risky, as the FARC could stop just any bus and kidnap whomever was travelling in it. The so called “miraculous fishing”. Their actions were not aimed at someone in particular. They just attacked and saw what they got out of it. Although the kidnappings stopped about ten years ago, the road is till not the safest one to travel through and it is recommended not to do it by night. Sometimes, there are still confrontations between the army and the guerilla. On these occasions, the road is just closed. And this is what my host thought had happened hours before my departure. Luckily, it was not the case and I was able to leave safely. The presence of military all along the road was obvious though and left a strong impression.
I only spent one night in both Popayán and Ipiales. My hotel in Popayán was run by a Jewish man, who corrected a belief I had on the signification of my name. I always thought “Sarah” meant “princess” in Hebrew. Although some Israelis I met seemed doubtful but couldn’t give me a more precise definition. So I preferred to stick to what I had been told. I got an upgrade a few months ago, when I was told “Sarah” means “princess of God”. But, according to the hotel keeper, it means “Queen”. In any case, I’m not just anybody. Please remember who you are dealing with next time we meet.
In the evening, it was kind of a funny sight to see and hear my host read out of what I imagined to be the Torah, while I was sitting next to him with my computer.
On the next morning, I took a very quick tour through this pretty colonial city, crossed a carnival parade, then left for Ipiales.
The main attraction in Ipiales is a church integrated in a rock. For a reason I can’t really recall, it is an important pilgrimage place in South America. After a quick visit, off I was to the border, then to make my way to Quito.
Adios Colombia. Hello my fourth country on the subcontinent: Ecuador!