Day 68 – Going in Circles (Popayan, Colombia)

The sound of rain woke us up in the morning, but by the time we got up and finished the breakfast, it turned into a drizzle and then stopped.  We had to take all side cases off the motorbikes to get out of the garage, since another car was blocking the exit.  By 9:30 am we were on the road out of Salento and half an hour later reached the main highway to Armenia.  The road was dry and the weather got warmer as we descended down into a valley.

A couple of hours later we made a quick stop by the road to buy some water and then continued flying fast until Palmira, where we decided to refuel and have lunch at a local bakery.  A man with a son approached us and started a conversation about the trip; we took some pictures together and he gave us directions to Popayan.  The directions and road signs were easy to follow, so we could safely ignore our GPS that persistently tried to direct us through Cali, a big city that we wanted to get around.

Three hours later we reached the outskirts of Popayan and continued following the signs to the center of the city.  It started drizzling as we slowly moved forward down the main street, stopping at a dozen of street lights, but then it started raining really hard.  We asked for directions to our hotel and soon reached the building, but decided to ride around the block and park right at the entrance.  This was a big mistake… as we spent another hour in drenching rain, going in circles on one-way streets.  To make the matters worse, the center of the city was closed to traffic due to some festival this weekend.  The cobblestone streets turned into little rivers and Vadim slipped and dropped his bike once on a steep slope.  We got separated from each other in traffic, but finally found the way to the hotel.  Vadim went straight through the main plaza, on a sidewalk, scaring off all pedestrians.  Gintaras found a local guy on a moped, who guided him through the street market out of old town (he almost turned over a couple of street stalls with fruits, while trying to squeeze between cars through the traffic) and then back to the hotel.

Room Window at Los Balcones Hotel

Vadim reached the destination first and then spent another half an hour haggling with parking guards at a place a block away from the hotel, who finally agreed to move few scooters around and make some room for our motorbikes.  Cold and wet, we were happy to be in a nice old hotel, in a big suite for honeymooners with two bedrooms and a small kitchenette.  The only inconvenience was that we had to wait for warm water in the shower for another hour and a half.  We spread out our wet gear all over the place, hoping it would dry out over the next couple of days.

The rain stopped in the evening and we went out to a nearby Italian restaurant on a cobblestone street surrounded by white buildings.  The food was good: hot tea with milk, chicken and mushroom soups, lasagna; only cannelloni with three cheeses was a little bit unusual.  A group of strange-looking Americans were sitting at a table next to us, and we were wondering what they were doing here, in Popayan.

We went for a short walk after the dinner.  Every building in the center of the town was painted white; it was truly a white city.  The central park was shining in lights of all colors, ready for the upcoming Christmas.  A lot of people were strolling around; it was a very pleasant evening.  We walked for about an hour and then went back to the hotel, stopping on the way at a local supermarket for some water, fruits and chocolate.

Routes taken: 29, 40, 25

Miles ridden: 213 miles (343 km)






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