Thursday 18th October – San Agustín- Popayán
It was about 5 hours on the bus from San Augustín to the city known as the White City – Popayan. It was a nice drive too through a lovely national park most of the way on a pretty rough road. Actually getting to the bus stop was the most fun, a guy picked me up on his motorbike and me and my backpack rode with him about 10kms out of town for the bus stop to Popayan. This guy was super friendly and chatty but I was a little bit worried because it didn´t seem that he was watching the road too well! I liked the vibe of the town straight away. It was small but not too small. Lots of students around attending the good universities in the town. The white buildings in the historical center were lovely, as was the park in the central square. My hostel was right next to the central park and shared a wall with the huge church next door. From the rooftop terrace I was able to see the stained glass windows and roof of the church.
Friday 19th October – Popayán
Slept in this morning and ate breakfast in the hostel – possibly the worst free breakfast I have had in all my travels! Papaya, sweet bread and a tiny bit of scrambled egg and finally a weird porridge that seemed to have coffee all through it! Yuck! Although the sound of the choir practising in the church on the other side of the wall kind of made up for it! After, I set out for a stroll around lovely Popayán. I found a lovely little tea shop where I had a nice tea and a sweet treat. After brunch I headed up to the top of the little hill – El Morro de Tulcan that was built over an ancient pyramid for some views out over the town. I visited the famous Puente Humilladero – the humiliation bridge. This bridge was used by priests to visit the sick poor people on the other side of the river. At 4pm, I joined a walking tour – our guide was called Victor and he took us on a loop of the town. We visited the church and toured the inside which was lovely. The church has been reconstructed after a number of earthquakes – the most recent in 1983 which happened during holy week at easter and killed over 100 people inside the church. We also visited a museum which showed some of the floats used in the very famous easter parades in Popayán. Victor told us that the city of Popayan was painted white because of an outbreak of some kind of bug in the 1500s which infested itself in the skin of local people. They even built scratch bricks in the corners of some of the buildngs so that the people wouldn´t spread the infection to their hands. Sounded disgusting. We finished the tour at a local restaurant just in time for dinner. I had a delicious Granada juice with some Guananaba – like jack fruit and some mini empañadas. Yum!