Colombia 2014 Posting 8 – Feb 21-23, 2014
(Deni) Our time in Popayan has been divided into two pieces. We spent a whole day here before heading out to San Agustin and Tierradentro. We returned on 2/20 and are leaving tomorrow for Cartagena.
Popayan is also known as the White City – for obvious reasons. The buildings are indeed white, although many are defaced with sploches of red and blue paint. Political? We have no idea.
The major buildings are either banks, administrative offices, or part of the University of Cauca.We went to several museums – the most interesting was the Natural History Museum. It has a wonderful exhibit of stuffed birds (the harpy eagle was my favorite), a fabulous butterfly collection, and interesting fossils. As with the Gold Museum in Bogata, we got in free because we’re old. We have one more museum we want to see, but it wasn’t open this morning as it was supposed to be. That’s something we’ve experienced several times in Colombia. Things that are supposed to be open between 8 and noon, aren’t. They finally open sometime after lunch (around 2 p.m.), if they open at all.
Popayan has a huge fruit, vegetable, and meat market by the bus terminal. I took lots of pictures and was happy that the items were labeled becasue many of the fruits are totally unknown to us.
We’ve seen some of the indigenous Guambiano people in town. Apparently, they are considered one of the most traditional groups in Colombia. They speak their own language, dress traditionally, use rudimentary farming techniques, and are known for their weaving skills. Men wear blue skirts with pink fringe and bowler hats. Women wear hand-woven garments and, sometimes, flat hats made of some sort of woven plant material.
On Friday we took an hour bus ride north into the hills to a thermal pool that is apparently very popular on the weekends. I’m not really sure why. The water smelled like sulfur and some of the bigger pools were green and scummy. I guess we chose a good day to go, because it was raining and not a good day to wander around town. The last part of the trip to the pools was in a jeep up a very steep, very muddy hill. The jeep guy was supposed to come back and get us in the afternoon, but he didn’t, so we started to walk down. A jeep came by and picked us up after we’d been walking for about a half hour. We appreciated the ride back down, although it was scary. I guess the jeep had no brakes, so the driver had to shift into a lower gear to slow for some of the slippery corners. Only problem was that the shifter didn’t work so great either. It made for an interesting ride.
Later today we’re going to stop by the cafe that the Scot I mentioned before manages. He told us another story I thought was pretty funny. We were talking about Scottish clans and names. He said that the Chinese family that runs the local Chinese restaurant is named McCall. When they immigrated, the person processing them didn’t think much of their Chinese name, so he renamed them McCall. Now thay have a daughter named Maria McCall. It’s a funny world.
We really like the hostel here in Popayan. There is a kitchen for the guests, so we have a place to keep all our fruit and yogurt refrigerated. We had our laundry done for next to nothing. And they were very helpful in the whole camera battery charger saga. Coop mentioned that he left the charger in Medellin. The guesthouse folks there couldn’t find it, so he ordered a new one from New York. It arrived at the hostel while we were in archeological villages. They paid the extra postage and held it for us until our return. Very helpful.
We haven’t paid much attention to the Olympics while in Colombia. But this morning while we were getting ready for the day, I heard a passionate rendition of “Oh, Canada” from the TV room. Canada had just won gold in hockey and the three Canadians staying here were celebrating.
(Bob) We’re including some pictures so you can get a taste of Popayan. Tomorrow we fly to Cartagena for some beach time on the Caribbean coast. It’s been in the upper 60s (20C) here in the highlands most days. It will be quite a bit warmer on the coast which will be a nice finale for our trip. Cartagena is a big cruise ship destination. So hopefully it isn’t totally overrun with tourist shops selling trinkets made in China. We’ll see. We’ll let you know.
Bob and Deni