Saturday, 19 November 2011

Cali to Popayan

Thur 17th to Fri 18th November

All packed, booted and spurred we try to leave the hotel only to be told cars and motorcycles are banned from the streets of Cali today (a clean air day). Police were everywhere including right outside of our hotel. Negotiation was attempted by the hostel receptionist and radio messages went to the police control but all to no avail. So here we are, stuck in Cali for another day as the curfew doesn’t get lifted until 7pm. This apparently happens once a month!

Friday and we manage it this time. First stop was a photo shoot outside of Euro Casco, a motorcycle clothing store owned and run by a Brit, Ashley Rhodes. He wants to pen a few words about us for his local newsletter. Ashley's been very helpful, he sourced a new waterproof bag for Bob (the old one was dragged along the road for a while. Don’t worry John it was the Lidl one not the Ortlieb) and a new helmet so he’s not allowed to fall off any more.

How many people does it take to solve a wobble. Terry’s bike is behaving a little oddly since having the new tyres fitted. We also picked up a stray Kiwi, Roger Arnold. Roger appeared at Casa Blanca Hostel yesterday and is heading in the same direction as us. He started his trip at the top of Alaska but wrecked his ankle and knee in an accident in Guatamala last year. Twelve months later, still hobbling, he is back to finish the journey: www.

Up into the hills heading for Popayan.

We rode into Popayan and parked in the 'Historic Centre'. Terry and I left Bob and Roger looking after the bikes whilst we went hotel hunting. We had to force our way through the crowd when we got back. Four foreign bikes and riders who couldn't speak the lingo (Roger is as bad as us) caused so much interest and amusement to the locals that the local paper was going to come out to take a photo.

Popayan, nicknamed the white city, is a university town with some great colonial architecture. All the buildings in the old centre are painted white, hence its nickname.

The main plaza.

Being a university town there are a lot of students about and we seem to have arrived in the middle of 'freshers week'. There were parades, dancing and plenty of tomfoolery but interestingly we didn't see any drinking on the street like you would at home........

...... dancing on the street.

The local Beauty Queen enjoying herself.

This is a wealthy, vibrant city with an educated university population but like everywhere else some less fortunate people eek out an existence on the street.

Street fruit stall.

We spotted a hill within walking distance that we thought would provide some good views. As we left the 'historic centre' a couple of police officers stopped and insisted on accompanying us. By the time we finished we gained an escort of around eight friendly policeman.

View from the hill.

Dinner was at Tequila's a Mexican restaurant that served good food at a very reasonable price (just over £2 for a main course). We could easily stay here another day but having been motionless for most of the last month we are moving on to Ipiales near the Ecuador border tomorrow.

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