We need to keep moving as we’ve still got some distance to cover yet and lots of things we want to see, so to get to Bogota we decided to hop there seeing as many places on the way as we could. First up was a 3 hour bus from Popayan to Cali (Colombia’s third largest city). We would have liked to have had time to explore Cali but there are other places that we want to go more so we headed straight out to Armenia a further 4 hours away.
Armenia’s setting is its biggest attraction as it sits between a valley and some of the highest mountains of the Cordillera Central mountain range. The town itself was pretty ugly (aka it was a shit hole) but we didn’t arrive until late afternoon so didn’t have much time to kill there. Once again the cheapest hotel listed in the Lonely Planet has increased its prices, so we walked 10 yards down the road and found another clean safe hotel for almost half the price. Ok so it was also a love motel (many budget hotels rent rooms by the hour, this is just the first time we realised that we were staying in one). Maybe all of the mirrors on the wall gave it away. We didn’t hear any strange noises in the night, although the doorbell rang a bit, and there wasn’t any porn on the TV.
There was more poverty in Armenia than we have seen for a while, a lot of homeless people on the streets and people with missing limbs, but we only got one persistent bugger that followed us down the street. Armenia used to be in the heart of guerrilla territory but now it’s only the number of homeless people that give it a slightly uncomfortable feel.
The next morning we took a 3 hour bus over the mountain range to Ibague over a high pass (3250m). It’s slow going because the road is really windy and being the main route between Cali and Bogota has a lot of trucks on it so traffic inevitably gets bunched into conveys. Ibague is a nice city, surrounded by mountains, it was just a bit hot and sunny for us. We didn’t do anything exciting just had a mooch around.
Next stop Bogota.
- On Colombian TV they run ‘Colombia says no to coca’ adverts
- We have seen several mobile shops – little pickups with a homemade roof full of every household item, like pans, you could ever need
- The vultures are really tame, you can walk right up to them
- No one knows where NZ is (they rarely did in Ecuador either) and if they think they do they think its in Europe