Heading North into Colombia: Gold, Rain, and Mud!

After our time in the Galapagos, it was time to trade in our boats for buses once again. We headed northwards towards the capital of Ecuador, Quito. Now Quito is one of the cooler places to visit in all of South America: you can cross the equator here, and the historic center of Quito is a UNESCO heritage site. Unfortunately for us, we only got to stay for 12 hours before having to depart for Colombia. Yes, due to a slight scheduling error, we had to hurry our tails up to Bogota, Colombia, before our friend Cody from Orlando arrived there.

At least the journey up to Colombia was pretty interesting. By now my Spanish has gotten good enough where I can hold actual conversations with people and bring up all sorts of fascinating bits of information to impress and wow the locals (at least I think so). So on this bus ride north from Quito I met a nice guy named Edwin who was a young lawyer from the town of Pasto, Colombia. Well that’s where we were hoping to get to by the end of our bus rides for the day, lucky us! The border crossing from Ecuador to Colombia is a little trickier than most: it involves one bus to the bus stop 20 km short of the border, a cab ride to the border, a walk across the border, cab for about 10 km to the Colombian bus stop, and after that two more buses to the town of Pasto. My new friend Edwin told me he was in Quito for a marathon, which he won. Sure enough, when we made our first transportation switch of the day, along with his backpack he lugs along a giant lottery-winner type check for $500. It was hilarious. He stayed with us through each transportation change, and was another example of the wonderful people you meet while traveling.

The fantastic Ecuador-Colombia border crossing

The next day we got ready for a short flight from Pasto to Colombia’s captial- Bogota. We were cautioned to fly this stretch because kidnappings from FARC rebels still can happen through this area, and we thought it would be better to exercise caution. After all, our friend Cody from Orlando was arriving the next day and we didn’t want to be absent for his arrival! The flight from the Pasto airport was another memorable one. Nestled in the northern extent of the Andes mountains, this would be one of our last opportunities to enjoy the low-hanging clouds that drifted between the valleys. The clouds surrounded the airport and made you feel like you were really in the middle of nowhere, and all of a sudden an airport appeared out of nowhere.

Our plane getting ready for our flight to Bogota

We arrived in Bogota and got ready to see our friend Cody. This was his first time travelling abroad and he was really excited to see us and experience some new things. The first thing we did was take a trip to Monserrate, a mountain in Bogota that has a Catholic church at the top. The cable car whisked us to the top and the views of the city were amazing.

The cable car to the top of Monserrate

Hanging out with Cody - only our second visitor of the entire trip!

The view of Bogota from Monserrate

Our next stop in Bogota was to check out the Museo de Oro – the Gold Museum. We heard from many people who have visited Bogota before us that we had to see it. If you happen to like gold, this is the place to visit. Everywhere you looked was gold – sculptures, jewelry, plates, clothing- you name it, they had it.

Unfortunately, Bogota has a big problem: the weather. Due to their elevation and proximity to the Equator, it is cool and rainy almost year round. So we decided to take a trip out to a little place outside the city that many locals visit for vacation, a town called Villa de Leyva. This charming place had a lot of nice shopping for Dana – the perfect excuse for Cody and I to go out and do some offroading through the hillsides and backcountry. As you can see from the pictures… we got a bit muddy.

The "before" picture

The "during" picture

The "after" picture

Unfortunately, the weather continued to not cooperate and much of the weekend in Villa de Leyva was spent dodging rainstorms. At least a few of the bars were open in town! We met a really nice family who spent time between Florida and Colombia who recommended a lot of places to visit. They were another shining example of all the wonderful people you can meet while travelling.

The main plaza of Villa de Leyva

Our photo with the Nieto family - very nice people!



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