Sunday, November 8, 2009

Adventure to Columbia!

So i never got around to writing about this but my favorite adventure day so far was about two weeks ago. one of pauls friends, Amy, from NY came with her son Andy who is 23 for about ten days. Andy was a lot of fun and quite refreshing to be around after being her for a month and a half. I had not realized how much I missed talking about normal things like tv, music, stories about friends and just the mundane American life until andy came. It was refreshing to have American conversation.

Anyway we both decided we wanted to go to Columbia, mostly just to say that we had gone. We had a very vague idea of how to get there and no idea of what to do once we arrived. We left early, at about 8 am and got a bus headed north to tulcan. From there we did not know what to do. Once in the tulcan terminal we found a taxi and asked them to take us to the Columbian border. The border was filled with chaos and confusion. We exchanged our money and the girl who changed the money for us explained that we needed to first go to the Ecuador side and get our passports stamped, then to the Columbia side to get out passports stamped, then come back and get a taxi. I did not know which side I was even on! So we found our way to the Ecuador side and then found our way to the Columbian side, waited in numerous lines, got our stamps and headed for a taxi. The taxi driver obviously wanted to know where to go and my response was Columbia? Haha. I feared his response because I knew what it would be. “where?” I had no idea. I asked him to take us to the closest town. He took us to Impiales.

Andy and I walked around and noted how clearly different Columbia was. You could just tell there was more money in the country. The clothes was nicer, there were more stores, it was cleaner, the people were still friendly but walked a bit faster and with more purpose. You could sense that this country put a higher value on education. It was just more progressed than even an hour south into Ecuador. It was refreshing.

After walking for a bit we sat down in a nice little café and ordered lunch. I had a chicken wrap with WHITE MEAT! Oh it was fabulous. Andy had a hamburger which I was still not quite adventurous enough to try in this country. I sat contentedly with my tasty little sandwitch and enjoyed talking with my new friend. We talked about relationships, family, jobs, travel and laughed, a lot, over ridiculous college stories. After lunch we paid for our food and then looked at each other as if for the first time we both realized we had no idea what to do.

We brainstormed over possible adventures but none seemed to thrilling, and andy and I were both looking for a GOOD adventure. Columbian Coffee was the only must on my to do list and other than that I felt lost. Then, wikitravel poped into my head. I quickly found impiales on the internet on my phone in wikitravel and all it really said was there was some church that attracted lots of people near by called las lajas. It didn’t sound exciting but I figured we could give it a try seeing as we had nothing else to do. We flagged down a taxi and headed to las lajas.

Andy and I did not have any idea what we were in for. We got out of the taxi and the driver pointed us down this long path and said the church was at the bottom. We walked for about ten minutes and then finally the church broke into view. I stoped dead in my tracks. It was breathtaking. I had little to no expectations of what I would find and this was far beyond anything I could have imagined. There were doves flying everywhere. There were waterfalls. There was a beautiful river and there was this incredible cathedral that was built into the side of a mountain. When you went inside the back wall WAS the mountain. I could not believe it. Andy and I were ecstatic with our find! We kept talking about how amazing it was that we found this and how we were such good adventurers. After a few hours of walking around in awe and taking pictures we walked back up to get a taxi.

The day had been beautiful. Perfect weather really. No more than 30 seconds after we got into the taxi it started to rain. I should not say rain really, torrents of water cascaded from the heavens and pummeled the little yellow taxi. I have never seen it rain so hard since I have been here. We got out of our taxi and ran a few feet to an overhang of a store and stood under it soaking wet. Andy had to meet his mother for an appointment later so we were feeling pressed for time but I was intent on getting my coffee before we left. We ran into a little store and asked for coffee. I asked if we could get it to go. The girl said, oh yes, we have to go containers. We waited for our coffe and I was quite surprised when the girl handed me two plastic disposable cups, a baggy full of sugar and a tupperwear container that resembled a small garbage can filled with coffee all in a little black bag to go. Andy and I tried to suppress the laughter until after we paid. My giggling immediately broke into laugheter once out of the store. WHAT WAS THIS? Coffe in a mini trashcan to go haha. It clearly only added to our experience. As we got our taxi to the border I told andy this day couldn’t really get much better. But I was wrong.
Once at the border we were walking towards a taxi when two young boys, about our age, asked if we needed a taxi. I said yes and asked what it would be to the bus terminal in Tulcan. They have a reasonable price so we climbed into the back of the taxi. Now many taxis here are peoples personal cars or trucks and the outside of this car looked seemingly innocent enough. Once inside I just about died. The seats were race car seats. Everyting was bright blue. There were 5 huge pioneer speakers in the trunk, two on each of the doors, cans of Nos on the sides of the car in the front, 3 tvs that played music videos and the driver BLASTED American rap or reggetton for the whole 15 minute ride to the terminal. I have never laughed to hard. This was one pimped out taxi. So I did the only thing that is appropriate to do in situations like this. I had myself a fun little dance party haha. once in the terminal our driver insisted on opening the trunk to show us the speaker system. We thanked him, paid him, and laughed for quite a while in disbelief.

We finally got on our buss back to pimampiro, sat down still soaking wet from the rain, and opened the lid of the mini garbage can and poured ourselves some nice warm Columbian coffee. It may have been some of the best coffee I ever had. It was the perfect ending to a perfect day.

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