We meet up with my brother, Niels, in Quito. We have been travelling for almost 5 months and we are really happy to see a familiar face. A is positively beaming with happiness. She has been looking forward to seeing her uncle for a long time!
My brother brought sunshine to Quito and we enjoy a couple of sunny days there, a welcomed change to the rainy days we have been experiencing since we arrived.
Actually, we have spent quite a long time in Ecuador. We travelled up the coast from Peru to Montañita, Puerto Lopez, Canoa, and then Mompiche, where we stayed for a month, which I will elaborate on later, and then we went to Quito.
In Quito we meet Jan from Germany. We spend some really good days with him, going to Otavalo and Mindo, which are both towns near to Quito. Jan is delightful company and A really enjoys spending time with him. We go around town pretending to have super powers and fighting against evil forces who want to control the earth. It is a lot of fun. We also meet up with Olga and Magdalena, two girls from Poland that we know from Mompiche, and we are really happy to see them again.
We have had some good adventures, met amazing people, and enjoyed life a lot in Ecuador. But we are ready to move on. To Colombia. I am SO excited to see this country. Virtually everyone we have met have told us that Colombia is AMAZING!
The border crossing from Ecuador to Colombia is the quickest and easiest we have made on our travels so far. The part that took the longest was getting stamped out of Ecuador and that was only because the line was the same one as people entering the country were in. On the Colombian side we just breeze through and then we get a taxi to Ipiales where we spend our first night.
The next morning we take an 8 hour bus ride to Popayan. The scenery on the ride is stunning. A counts 8 waterfalls. We ride on the mountain sides and look down steep hills into valleys with rivers. Everything is green and lush. It is a big change to the southern coasts we have left behind.
Popayan is known in Colombia as la ciudad blanca, the white city, and one of the most well-kept colonial cities in Colombia. The historical center is full of old, white buildings. It is warmer here and we enjoy walking along the streets in el centro historico. We eat street food; arroz con frijoles and arepas con queso. It is easy to find assumably vegetarian food but we have to make it absolutely clear that we don’t want ANY kind of meat. Unfortunately we are unlucky enough to be served alegedly vegetarian dishes with meat in them on several occasions; yuck! This is not unique for Colombia though; it happens all over South America all the time. It is more a question of cultural differences than anything else, I think. The aspect of not eating any animal products is simply unthinkable here. And surely fish or poultry is not meat? As well as minced meat or broth cooked on meat is not meat. But it is!!
We walk around town and climb a hill with a statue on it that gives a great view over Popayan.
Our first impressions of Colombia are great. People are incredibly friendly and welcoming. People in the street stop us to ask where we’re from or just to bid us hello and welcome. A lot of people ask us to pose with them in pictures; they are especially fond of A’s blond hair and blue eyes. A agrees to pose once in a while, but she also knows when she’s had enough and declines if she feels too overwhelmed.
We stay three nights in Popayan before moving on to Cali, Colombia’s most famous salsa town. And Cali is AMAZING – Niels and I love it from the moment we arrive. A is reluctant because she is hungry and tired. But once we have eaten some bandeja she feels better. And Cali captures her heart as well.