This is a travel blog for desktop travelers and other ramblers who want to know the world just a little bit better.

Right now I am living in Quetzaltenango, Guatemala where I'll be settled for a while. Thanks for reading!

Monday, February 7, 2011

On the Move to Ecuador Via Popayan

We are almost exactly in the center of Colombia. Our visas will end soon, and we have a directional decision to make: Do we head north or south? North leads to beautiful Cartagena and the Carribean, but then we will have to fly down the whole country going south to get to Ecuador and eventually Peru. So we decide to head south figuring that we will one day have to head north again to get to Los Estados Unidos, and we can visit the northern part of Colombia then.

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Our last few stops before visiting Colombia will be to visit the archaeology parks in San Augustin and Tierradentro and the indigenous market in the town of Silvia. To get to all these places it is almost necessary to pass through Popayan. The city itself does not have so much for the general traveler. It is usually just a one or two day stop on the way to/from Ecuador. Popayan ends up being one of these towns where Mika and I stay longer than most and end up doing a lot of not too much. It is probably a clear sign that we are getting road weary and need to find our place for a several month stay.

The historic center of Popayan is beautiful and easily seen in a day. The only thing I actually want to see here is a church that has two mummified monks. However, the policeman at the tourist office tells us there are not enough officers in town to manage the place.
I know mummies are in there somewhere.
Unlike other colonial towns in Colombia which are small and seem to be preserved mostly for tourism, Popayan is a thriving town where modern life continues within the walls of the old buildings. Churches and universities abound and almost the entire historical center is white, giving Popayan the nickname, "The White City."

Probably the biggest tourist draw to Popayan is the Tuesday market in Silvia, a town about 40 minutes away by bus. Every Tuesday hundreds of Guambino Indians (the indigenous community that has lived in the region for over 500 years) come from the surrounding villages to buy and sell goods and to socialize with friends and relatives. The Guambino are immediately recognizable by their traditional clothing and hats. The indoor market is actually not that large and does not take long to wander around it and the outlying streets. We buy some vegetables and fruit which end up being much cheaper than the supermarkets in Popayan.

Outside the market

An onion seller
Approximately 3,000 varieties of potatoes grow in the Andes.
Many of which are sold at this market. 

Chivas are colorful local buses going to small towns  
Vaya con Dios - the front of the bus
The back of the bus
From Popayan it is six to eight hours to the border with Ecuador. We mistakenly choose an eight hour bus so spend the night in Ipiales at the Colombian side of the border. Crossing the border into Ecuador the next morning, we are happy that we do not have to say adios to Colombia, but rather just hasta luego.


  1. South America is one of my favorite places. Thanks so much for this informative post.

  2. Thanks Margaret. Where have you been in S. America? Do you have a favorite place?