Colombia! First city; Pasto

2018/05/30

At 9:15am Albert and me met at the terminal and from there we went to where he lived together with 11 other venezolanos. He showed me the city together with 3 other venezolanos.  We mad a lot of stops, for copies of his papers, a place where they might need people and just places where other venezolanos where working. He was looking for a job and at the end it seemed he had found one in construction, he is a civil engineer.

We talked while walking about why they were here, that they wanted to return but that now this was not possible. One of the girls had a son back in Venezuela, but here family needs the money, so she had to leave him, of course she misses him a lot and wants to go back.

The people in Colombia are not always that friendly they told me. And indeed, in Peru and Ecuador I already had heard stories from locals saying that all Venezuelans are thief’s, I guess in Colombia some people say the same. It really sucks, they can’t really stay in Venezuela and in other countries they are not treated well either, it’s a bit like in Europa.

From this group they seemed all to have a higher education, Albert now got a job in his field, but the two girls worked in a disco for now, it’s a shame but they currently don’t have many options.

Later we returned to their house and they cooked lunch, very tasty fried chicken (first covered with a mix of silantro and cebollita, next with corn flower and then fried), rice and fried banana (platoon). They girls escorted me to my hostel and went off to work.

I went to the terminal to buy a ticket to Popayan, but the first bus would be at 17:30 and would arrive there at 23:30, I didn’t want to arrive that late and decided to stay one more night and leave very early in the morning.

Otavalo to national park El Angel to Colombia Pasto

2018/05/29|

First the bus to Ibarra and from there another bus to El Angel. In El Angel (12:30) I went walking together with a German in direction to the national park, about 18km from the town, hoping we would catch a ride. We got a ride from every car that passed, which still meant we mostly walked.

At the start we got a ride from two busses with school kids that were being brought home. The kids were very interested in us. They were climbing over the chairs, hanging from the bars on the ceiling. The bus drive didn’t care and let them play. At the last stop we got out and started hiking, we had about 13/14km to go.

Soon I continued alone to have at least a chance to make it there by foot and back. I didn’t make it to the lakes, but I saw at least the field with Frailejones, an unearthly plant with large hairy leaves on a thick stem.

On the way back, I managed to get a ride and actually was back in town just before the last bus to Tucan at 16:45 (till 6pm there would be shared taxi to the next town and from there busses to Tucan).

When I arrived, I asked what the best time was to cross the border, it turned out that currently the boarder was quiet, so I went directly. I had heard stories of people waiting for up to 14hours. The long waits have to do with the stream of people fleeing Venezuela because of the political situation there. I was however lucky and there was no one waiting before me on either side of the border.

At the Ecuadorian side I met a Venezuelan that had done a visa run and we shared a taxi to the bus terminal. From there we took a bus to Pasto where he was currently living with his sister and some other friends. He helped me finding a hotel and we would me tomorrow.

Otavalo – swim in a waterfall, a tree and a lake

2018/05/28

We went for a short hike to a waterfall, were we went for a swim trying to get as close to the waterfall as possible, the stream was strong and only by holding on to the rocks it was possible to get closer. Getting really completely under the waterfall was impossible because of the strength of the wind and the force of the water.

Next to a tree, and to a large lake. Afterwards lunch at the market and back to the hostel.

Otavalo – day hike Imbabura

2018/05/27

With the same group as yesterday, we went after breakfast (breakfast of banana pancakes and cake) we left by taxi to the start point for Imbabura. The path went up through the grass landscape, the higher the type of plants changed and the landscape with it. There were a lot of outer worldly plants, some with thick hairy leaves, some with curly leaves, a cactus with a fury kind of flower and many others.

When we got higher it became rockier and the path became a bit more difficult, as well because of the clouds which made it more difficult to follow the path.

We followed the edge of the crater going up and down, sometimes climbing and descending a little. Just like with most volcanos there are a lot of weird shaped rocks.

Me and Florian continued to the peak, we arrived there at 3pm hoping that the others already were on their way back. We started on the way back and after an hour we found the others still going up.

It had been raining, snowing, the wind was strong. They thought the way up was difficult, they had hoped they could go down on the other side and when we told them this was not an option they were miserable. I had borrowed my hat and my gloves to them, and although I was cold too, seeing them like this I didn’t dare to ask them back, they looked so miserable.

On the way down they started feeling batter after a while.

We found a very, very skinny dog. At first it looked like he couldn’t really see, he could barely walk, and he was stiffening like crazy. We gave him some bread and cookies and carried him most of the way down. After a while he seemed to get stronger and he walked a bit by himself, but sometimes he would fall, and we would carry him again farther down.

When we were back at the grassy area we were above the clouds and the rain had stopped, the view was great. When we got back at the road it started to get dark and we were all happy when we saw a couple people with a car. For in total 10 dollars they would bring us to the bus terminal and they said they as well could take care of the dog. We all got very attached to the dog, I hope he will be alright.

 

Photo’s are made by Lara and the Chinese girls

Otavalo – Animal market, Lagunas Mojandes and birthday

2018/05/26

At 6am me and to other tourists went together to the animal market. At the market they sell all kind of animals, from cows to quinoa pigs and from pigs to chickens.

After breakfast me and 5 others left together to lagunas Mojandes. Here we started walking up to the highest mountain there, I went a little faster and took a different route but met them later again. On the way down again, I went a bit different and faster and continued walking to another lake. Later when I came back to the start point I missed the rest of the group. It turned out they had been sitting next to the road and I must have walked straight past them. I hitchhiked back to the town and went to have a look at the Saturday market.

The market was huge, a lot of the streets in the center were closed for traffic and again they were selling all kinds of things. After a while I continued to the regular food market for lunch and returned to the hostel.

In the evening we cooked together, the Chinese made Chinese food as the main, the French made French craps for desert and I made soup and guacamole as starter. The Chinese girls had bought some cake as well to celebrate my birthday.

Cayambe to Otavalo

2018/05/25

I left early, again pumpkin bread for breakfast, to Otavalo. In Otavalo I checked in the hostel and went directly by bus to Laguna Cuicocha, a large crater lake. Pretty much from the moment I arrived it was raining, in the morning it had looked so nice…

In the bus to the lake I had met 2 other tourists and we shared the $5 fair for the last part by taxi to the lake. From there we first hiked together, but with the rain I didn’t want to wait for them. After about 45min a group, including one of the rangers of the park, came from the opposite direction. The ranger told me I had to go back, that the path was one way only. Our taxi driver had actually told us we could go either way round and had dropped us in front of the path we had taken, also there were no signs anywhere with arrows, or at the start of the path to indicate we had gone the wrong way. I argued, I didn’t want to go back, and he was going to radio the control post. After arguing for a couple minutes more in the rain he finally let continue anyway. I hope the other that I had shared the cap with managed as well to continue the same way.

After completing the loop in about 2.5/3hours (according to the signs it should be 5hours for the 14km round trip), I hitchhiked back with two cars up to town.

Back to the hostel, shower, lunch and reading in the park.

Cayambe – day hike to volcano Cayambe

2018/05/24

At 4:30 am I walked towards the supposed bus stop for el Nevado for the start of the hike to mt Cayambe. I waited from 4:45 till 5:30, the bus should have arrived at 5am according to the tourist office. Later after I had gone to bed again and had started hiking towards mt Cayambe from town all the while trying to hitchhike, I found out the bus probably had passed at 4:30am.

I got a ride (with a family that had sold some of the food they grow them self and bought some things they couldn’t in the city), another ride (with a guy of 18 that did drive normally tourists up to Cayambe and that I later on my way back saw driving with his car full of tourists), and another ride.

With the last ride I was sitting in the back of the pickup. The road was muddy and after the car had slipped, they decided to park and walk the last bit.

I first walked with them, it turned out they were colleagues and had installed a security system at a plant in Cayambe, today was there day off and tomorrow they would return 8hours driving back to their home town at the coast.

I walked alone farther up to the refuge, the weather was harsh, wind, rain, hail and later snow. At the refuge from time to time you could see the glacier, but I didn’t want to continue. After waiting in the refuge 3 of the 7 colleagues arrived. I talked with them and we left the hut together.

I passed the car where the others were waiting for the other 3 to return. They offered me a ride back, I continued walking down and they would pick me up when they were going down.

After arriving back in Cayambe, the town, I went to el mitad del Mundo, by bus. Pretty much nothing to see. I hitchhiked back.

When back in town there was a parade. One of the schools exists 63years and they had a big party, dancing, costumes and music.

In the hostel, there was no kitchen, but I gave some green platano to the owner and she prepared them for me, yesterday she had boiled some eggs for me and with pumpkin bread and a salat of tomato and ricotta cheese (brand name: Holanda), still a pretty good meal.

Misahualli to Papallacta

2018/05/20

Big breakfast with pancakes, fried banana, eggs and coffee. Now typing the blog and waiting for the rain to reduce and the wash of Max before we go to another town.

We arrived in Papallacta and after checking about 5 hostels/hotels we found a place with an acceptable price. We dropped or stuff and went to one of the many hot springs. It was nice to relax in the hot springs for a couple hours.

We went back and made dinner in the kitchen, a large fried egg with cheese. We stayed in a guesthouse, and the kitchen was not really part of the hotel, but we were allowed to use it any way and we talked for a while with the couple that we stayed with.

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