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Published: October 9th 2014
We caught a local bus from Quito to the border town which took an hour longer than expected. I think this was due to the route the bus took leaving Quito. I was using the gps on google maps to follow our progress and at one point I was a little worried we were on the wrong bus as we were heading in completely the opposite direction to the border. I'm not sure if this was the normal route or if the driver was just hoping they could pick up some more passengers to fill up the bus.
Once we arrived at the bus station we took a taxi to the Colombian border. It was late in the day and was pretty quiet so we got through quickly before taking a shared taxi to the bus station in Ipiales. We had heard about a cool little church near the border so we decided to try our luck and headed to Las Lajas for the night. We booked into a local hotel which was the cheapest private room with bathroom we have had all trip and it was reasonably comfortable too.
The next morning we were up early to visit
Santuario de las Lajas. The neogothic church is built on a stone bridge over a deep canyon and the river Guáitara in the village of la Lajas, it is believed the image of the Virgin Mary appeared on the rock wall in front of a mother and her daughter when they were caught in a storm sometime in the mid-18th century. Many pilgrams make the journey and often leave small plaques of thanksgiving which now line the paths down to the church.
After visiting the church we took a shared taxi back to the bus station in Ipiales for a bus to Popayan.
It was a very short overnight stop in Popayan before we caught another bus to Solento.
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