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June 8, 2016

San Andres de Pisambala 5.6.16

The last two days have been a bit of a nightmare with the best laid plans going awry in a big way. After leaving the coffee area we headed south taking a detour to Lago Colima, a man made lake where a couple of days were spent relaxing. Then yesterday we headed back to the Panamericana highway that passed through the major city of Cali. Actually going through the city the Panamericana seem to become lost in a large market area where trucks were competing with Barrow Boys pushing their wears. But it was after leaving the city things went pear shaped, Not long after clearing the market area a car waved us down and this bloke came over saying something to us Which I could not understand completely. It wasn’t until arriving at the first toll that the woman informed us the highway to the next big city, Popayan, would be closed for at least 4 days. Normally it would have been a case of finding a nice place to stay and sitting it out but doing that would give us no leeway in getting the van ready for us to fly home. Thee only alternative was to retrace our steps up to the coffee area once more and take on that diabolical road across the mountains. Then retrace our steps further south until reaching a road that crossed back over the mountains to Popayan. A detour of over 800kms.
The mountain road was terrible. Trucks creeping up the gradient, the Nissan didn’t have a low enough gear and I was having to ride the clutch and rev the motor to make traction. Night fell and were still 60kms from an area we could pull off. Our golden rule is to never travel at night. There was no option but to carry on in this instance.
We made it at about 8pm.
Then today, coming off the mountain was easy and the roads south were good until starting to head west once more The asphalt road soon turn to a washed out dirt track. Our speed was so low even horses passed us. There is still 100kms to go to reach Popayan. Buses take 4 hours to cover that distance and they travel at speed. Will see how things turn out tomorrow.
In the meantime, where we are camped tonight is another archeological site similar to San Agustin but there are coffins here, not statues Will take in a quick sight see tomorrow before hitting the road.

6.6.16 Near a small lake 32kmms from La Plata.
If things were bad the last two days they have become even more so getting to a point we are questioning our abiity to make our flights back to AU. It seems the state of Cauca is having a strike for more money for the working class and all roads entering the state are blocked. That was the reason the road was out south of Cali. and today, after travelling a further 80kms over mainly shocking road we were stopped by a road block consisting of large rocks spread across the road. There were a few cars in line and they suddenly let a couple through but as I tried to closely follow the leader of the blockade stood in front of the bakkie while his supporters threw the rocks back in place. Things turned nasty when I tried to drive over the rocks. The leader grabbed a container of petrol and threatened to set our vehicle alight then when I went to take a photo of the situation he ran across the road, picked up a machete and came charging at me. Some of the others came between us and told me to back off. At that stage we weren’t aware what it was all about but when it was explained to us we were more understanding. One of the minicab drivers also waiting showed us images on his phone of vehicles alight at the blockade south of Cali. It appears this standoff could last for days and we had no choice to once more head back across this bad road and hope to head south. The next town on our route is on the state border. If we can get past that it should be OK. In the meantime, we are parked alongside this pleasant lake where a local is catching carp and the family running this fiesta ground have let us stay, no charge.
We have to be back in Ecuador Friday at the very latest. The way we are heading now is across that risky road we travelled with Horst and Karen. We are starting to wonder if we are ever getting out of Colombia

7.6.16 Casa del Rio, Mocoa.
The barricade at the state border town of La Plata did not eventuate meaning an open road south to where we are staying, Mocoa, before heading west tomorrow. A tiring 340 kms. Colombians have a fascination with speed humps, something that annoys me more than most things. Today, we didn’t count them. but I would say the bakkie would have crawled over more than 300
It has been a wearying four days for both of us and the road tomorrow that I faced with trepidation last time seems a easier this time.
This detour has put over 1000kms on the van and us. It’s raining so might make this next part more trickier.

  1. Sandrina permalink

    G & J

    Stay cool and hang loose (easy for us to say)

    Almost back in Ecuador

    D & S

  2. Ross permalink

    Take Care.
    Ross & Cathy

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