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South America » Colombia » Cali
March 22nd 2014
Published: June 17th 2014
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The church on Salento's main square
Monday 17th March (Odyssey Day 129)







We didn’t leave until 0900 today so there was plenty of time for breakfast. Hannah, Joanna and Mike are staying on an extra day and will catch a bus to meet us in Popayan. The truck was only half full today, with only 13 passengers on board. It feels so odd, even though we know that 5 people are going to re-join us in the next few days.







We stopped in a town called Buga for lunch and had just enough time to visit the Basilica del Senor de los Milagros, which is the cathedral there. It is quite a grand looking building with a pinkish brick façade. The inside was also beautiful and a few of us actually took the time to have a good look within. Ellie and I had lunch at a chicken place and it was delicious, but big enough that I doubt I will need to eat tonight. We really only picked it because it looked to have fast service, essential since we had spent most of the lunch stop at the cathedral instead of actually
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Basilica del Senor de los Milagros
having some lunch. It was well worth the visit though, and we couldn't not take the opportunity when passing through.







We arrived in the city of Cali in the late afternoon. The hostel here is an interesting one. And by interesting I mean it’s not really up to scratch. The first room they put Ellie, Ann and I in was so small that we wouldn’t have been able to even get to the bathroom or the bunk beds if we put our bags down – they would have completely blocked the whole room regardless of where they were placed. So they moved us to a twin room and put a mattress on the floor for me to sleep on. Not great but at least there is more room in this one and we have space for our bags even if it is limited. One of the walls isn’t enclosed at the top though and parts of the room are open to the outside. Interesting indeed.







Kelly and Eamon re-joined the group here, though Kelly is planning on finding his own way to Quito from here, rather
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Inside the cathedral
than staying with the group. Too much driving over the next few days for his taste.











Tuesday 18th March (Odyssey Day 130)







The hostel doesn’t serve breakfast so I made use of my fruit and cereal biscuits. It’s fairly warm today and my back is killing me, so I made the decision to stay in for the day and relax a bit. The hostel doesn’t have air-conditioning and the wifi is temperamental at best, but its only two nights after all.







Cali is the second largest city in Colombia and is very hilly. A lot of the streets are quite steep and we were a very long walk from the historic centre of town which was down by the river. They did have some interesting street art around though, and the city area we were in was a bit cleaner than I thought it would be. As a whole though, the city didn’t make a great first impression.







At lunch time I took a walk with Ellie to
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Street Art
find a supermarket, but we couldn’t find one where google said it was. Oh well, we stopped at a bakery instead and the food from there was delicious, so I’m not too mad at google…











Wednesday 19th March (Odyssey Day 131)







We re-visited the bakery we went to yesterday to get some breakfast this morning and also got something for lunch. Yes, it was that good, and also much cheaper than buying on the way. We departed Cali on time this morning and I was back up the front again. Definitely still my favourite seat for a long drive. Kelly ended up coming with us as there were lots of protests and road blocks around Cali and he wasn’t sure he would make it to the airport in time for his flight to Quito. He didn’t want to chance being stuck in Cali, which wasn’t anyone’s favourite place, so he elected to come with us instead.







We arrived in Popayan while it was still light. We blocked traffic again unpacking our bags though really there
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The Salsa teacher shows Ellie and Triona some moves
was heaps of room to go around if they had bothered to actually try. I think they just like beeping their horns and yelling, no matter the reason. We are staying in the Hostel Trail again so at least we all know where we are in relation to everything in town.







I walked with Ellie to the big Exito shopping centre to buy water and snack food. It was about ten minutes away and simple to find despite the strange street layout. I didn’t bother with dinner as I wasn’t really hungry today. Too many delicious pastries for lunch! Joanna, Hannah and Mike re-joined the group here, having arrived a day before us from Salento.











Thursday 20th March (Odyssey Day 132)







Our day in Popayan was a free day for the group. Some chose to hike a volcano, others to get on a bike. My choice for today was to take a walk around the city to see what was missed on our all too brief last stop. When we were coming north into Colombia,
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AJ & Carlos, Salsa lessons
Popayan was just a place to break our travel days but now we had a day to properly look around. It is a nice place to walk, though the streets are still confusing. They are numbered instead of named, which ought to make them easy to navigate, but none of them are straight! This can cause quite a bit of confusion, but at least I didn’t get lost heading back to the hostel.







At 1400, nine of the group met up to have a salsa lesson at the hostel. It was a lot of fun, but completely exhausting. It was actually a lot like doing an aerobics workout, very hard work and it didn’t take long for us all to become red in the face and dripping with sweat. So that was how we spent a couple of hours this afternoon, learning to dance salsa and having a great time. Not too sure I’ll be doing too much tomorrow though – if I can even get out of bed after that!







For dinner a few of us went up the road to the Italian restaurant where
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AJ & Eamon try the turns... with eventual success
Joanna and I ate last time. The food there is divine and the wine quite good. We only have a couple of short days in Colombia left, so a good place to use up some of our Colombian money. The service was a little bit slow here, but this is Colombia after all and they work on ‘South American time’. It’s not like we were in any particular hurry anyway.











Friday 21st March (Odyssey Day 133)







Today was a travel day. We left at a reasonable time and headed south toward the border. We drove all day and arrived into Ipiales after dark. It is just a place to stop for the night and the only thing we did tonight was walk down to the square for food for dinner and snacks for lunch tomorrow.







Ellie and I did discover what we consider to be the tiniest hotel rooms ever though. There was so little space and the furniture was bizarrely placed within the room. Coming out of the bathroom, you had to be really
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Stunning views heading out of Popayan
careful not to hit your head on the cupboard attached to the wall beside it, something I managed to do in the dark anyway.











Saturday 22nd March (Odyssey Day 134)







We left at 0900 this morning as we are only a few minutes’ drive from the border. This gave some people the chance to go and see the Santuario de las Lajas, which is the city’s main attraction. Ellie and Hannah both went to visit and having seen their photographs afterwards, I do wish I had bothered to get out of bed a few hours earlier as well.







We crossed the border first thing this morning, heading into Ecuador once more. Unfortunately we didn’t get to stop at the equator. This really upset some of the group, who were annoyed that Emma didn’t tell us we were skipping it until after we went past as apparently they thought we were running behind time. As this is a pretty major attraction for a lot of people, it was a rather disgruntled group that arrived in Quito
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The butchers contrast
at around 1800.







Having settled into our rooms, we then met in the lobby at 1900 for info on everything about our Galapagos trip, such as our taxi, flights, return, etc. We packed for our few days away and then stored our big bags in the hotel store room before heading out to dinner. First Ellie and I headed to the main square to get out some much needed money, then we found a place to eat. We ended up at the same restaurant as others from the group but since the tables were rather small, we sat apart. The food was okay here, but the drinks were amazing. Not the cheapest place in the world though.


Additional photos below
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Heading further south
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Slow travel due to some interesting roadwork
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Our last day in wonderful Colombia
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Back into Ecuador
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A small landslide delays things a bit
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Some interesting roofing


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