Popayan -> Pasto
Wake up sans alarm at 6:35AM. I hit snooze on my brain. Once again at 7:30. Snooze. 8:35AM. Fine, I am up! I felt refreshed. Emma was heading out. I handed off my book, Female Nomad and Friends and she was also excited about the recipes, too. Chick moment!
I ate a leisurely breakfast: mango, granola, yogurt with a few cups of coffee. Maybe I should have gotten up early because I missed the opportunity to jump into the limited showers available. Time to wait. Packing my bag again. I commented how huge my pack was. Emma laughed and pointed at hers that was double the size of mine and had plenty of room for the book I gave her. I was excited to finish up a tube of moisturizer. Ah, the simple things in life that make me happy.
Walking to the Bus Terminal was a much more pleasant experience without an aching calf thanks to the yoga yesterday. I crossed the street, on the other side, a group of secondary students were shouting and waving hello to me making me once again feel like a movie star! Passing un Estacion de Bombaderos, primary school students were enjoying a field trip while having a field day jumping through the spray from the fire hose.
The ride from Popayan to Pasto was roughly 5-6 hours. I passed an areparia and got a fresh arepa con queso y mantequilla for the bus. This stretch of Colombia is still in a remote and sketchy area. It is fine to travel during the day but legend has it night buses tend to be stopped by bandits and robbed. Looking at the scenery, I wondered who in their right mind would take a night but anyway? As the road weaved through the 2 of the Andean mountain ranges: Corderilla Central y Occidental, I engaged my abs for a workout as the bus shifted from side to side as though I was sitting on a stability ball: plant feet, engage abs, engage glutes all while taking in the scenery.
The bus passed coffee plantations, I saw a modest supply of coffee beans drying alongside the road. The bus slowed for construction. Concrete barrier walls were constructed roadside which was a step up from wooden posts with barbed wire. This reminded me of the road to Madekeri.
The bus stopped for lunch in a small town. Since I was sitting all day, I was not in the mood for a large almuerzo. I walked up and down the street to stretch my legs before coming back to get a lulo con leche. A Colombian man who was a soldier at the beginning of his training currently on leave joined me at my table.He shared his perspective of the Colombian conflict with me likening the problem to the American-Vietnamese War. The enemy is hard to find.
As the bus drove slowly through town, it acquired more passengers. Having a vacant seat next to me, several men attempted to sit next to me although there were SEVERAL empty seats behind me and used my eyes to indicate as such. Per protocol, at least in my mind based on experience in India, men are not supposed to sit next to a single lady unless there are no other options. A voluptuous Colombian female sat down next to me. Ugh, she smelled really bad. I should have let one of the men sit next to me, both were well-dressed and appeared to have showered recently coupled with the rain keeping me from opening the window for 20 minutes did not help.
Gasp. Rain stopped. Fresh air. Soon lady got off. The bus continued up above the valley, elevation getting higher. Now in the mist and clouds. Beautiful. Closer to Pasto the landscape retained its beauty but industry started to creep into view and saw what appeared to be a poultry processing plant and a Postobon distribution center.
Getting closer into town. The area looked familiar with a striking resemblance to 19th Avenue in the Sunset neighborhood in San Francisco with boxy townhouses lined up next to each other along this busy thoroughfare. I could have been riding the 29 Muni to visit my Cousin Jen, Aunt Sharon and crazy little cousins: Cynthia & Allison.
At the bus station, no familiar faces welcomed me other than the eager faces of taxis drivers looking for a fare. My taxi driver could easily transfer to New York City and convert to Judaism because he went on and on about the horrible traffic as he deftly weaved through it. Oye! He dropped me off a block from Koala Inn since he did not want to have to deal with the one-way traffic and going around the block but I did not blame him for not wanting to drive through the gridlock.
The Koala Inn was an older hotel with a colonial style with a large courtyard and 3 levels of balconies overlooking it. I got a private room with wooden floors, comfy bed and cable TV. I dropped my belongings and went out in search of food.
At a crosswalk, a lady warned me about thieves and to watch my bag which is second nature to me but thanked her anyway. I had heard several reports this town was not extremely safe at night. I took care of my business swiftly before taking advantage of a comfy bed and cable TV. Two of my favorite shows were on and in Spanish: Grey’s Anatomy and House.