Thursday, August 6, 2009

Another day, another run for another border.

Not our bus, thankfully.

With a day of doing nothing but researching where to go and how to cross the border, you’d have thought Adrian and I had a plan. But before our last sleep in Popyan we were still undecided. We could go to either Pastos or Ipiales on the Colombian side or if we were more adventurous we could head all the way into Ecuador. We decided to see how we felt when we got up the next morning.

The next morning we felt like going to Ipiales. Unlike Pastos it was right on the border and it also had the added attraction of a church that had been built out of rock in a canyon. Nick and Heather were headed towards the border too but they were already gone when we got up so we had no clue if we’d run into them in Ipiales or later on in Ecuador. So we had breakfast and then said our goodbyes to the lovely owners of the lovely hostel and their lovely dog too then headed to the bus station.

As soon as we entered, we were bombarded with shouts from bus company employees. Ignoring them we eventually found one that was leaving right then and sold us a ticket all the way to Ipiales rather than to just Pastos. It figures just as we were getting used to the chaos of Colombian transportation we were on our way out of the country. The bus got us to Pastos where most of the passengers got off. Adrian and I both went to use the bathroom and lost our seats on the bus while doing so. Rather than kick out the old couple now occupying our seats we grabbed our books and took the two remaining seats at the back. Of course these were also occupied and when the couple came back, the woman gave me a telling off and tried to move us. Luckily her partner, asked another man to change seats so they could sit together elsewhere. Let me tell you, no one tells you off like a Latina. I think my ears are still stinging from that one.

We got into Ipiales just after dark. We had a choice of two hotels: one was the fanciest place in town and the other just across the street was definitely fancy not but it was cheap. Our plan was to tell the taxi driver the name of the cheap one (so he wouldn’t over charge us) and then book into the expensive one. But I forgot this plan when we arrived at the cheap one. Although frayed and worn it was clean and less than half the price of across the street. The cheap one was good and cheap so we didn’t even bother checking out across the street. Ipiales didn’t look particularly happening at night and the restaurant at the fancy hotel looked closed so we settled for the Chinese food place downstairs. We were hoping to catch a break from rice but there was limited selection. While we waited for our chow mein and chicken balls, Adrian stepped outside for a cigarette. When he came back in, Nick and Heather were with him. They were across the street at the fancy hotel. They joined us for dinner but as vegetarians they had even less choice than us. When the food arrived it was a ridiculous amount, mostly due to the fact that our attempts to avoid rice were thwarted. Despite asking for something without rice, our chicken balls and chow mein were each accompanied by a plate piled high with fried rice. Gulp, I felt bad leaving so much food on the table but none of us were interested in the 5 pounds of fried rice.

Tomorrow Nick and Heather were also heading to Ipiales famous church and across the border. So we decided to meet up the next morning for breakfast, share a cab out to the church and then across the border. Hopefully, with four of us we can make it across safely, quickly and cheaply.

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