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Heading North 1.5.17

May 5, 2017

Popayan, Colombia. 1.5.17

Popayan. The city we didn’t quite make last trip when the province was closed off by campaneros seeking better conditions, things they were promised four years earlier. The road here up the Pan Americana was spectacular with high mountains dropping in one foul swoop to the deepest of canyons.
The road was winding for all the 8 hours travelled today. Only just over 300kms but it was very draining: mad traffic passing on blind bends, hundreds of slips from the recent rains, drizzling rain hiding the infrequent pot holes. It was a relief arriving at this campsite on the edge of Popayan.
The bakkie went well with its new tyres and mended chassis etc. It has always been underpowered and going up mountains and back down mountains for many hours tested it to its limit.
The nibble of buying the vehicle has dried up which is no big annoyance. We were always of two minds and I told the bloke once we crossed out of Ecuador it was then a case of no sale.
Border crossings are always fraught with some uncertainty especially when the bakkie was in Ecuador illegally. Due to strict regulations about not having a vehicle in the country longer than 3 months, when we brought it back in from Colombia last year we didn’t go to the customs office. Just had our passports stamped then quietly walked back to the van and took off. As far as the authorities were concerned the van had left Ecuador when we went to Colombia but hadn’t returned. This time around the passports were stamped at the Ecuadorian immigration then a quick drive across the river border and we were out of reach of the authorities. I am not a good law breaker and felt quite stressed by the whole incident.
Last night saw us free camping in a delightful spot up a short drive onto a flat area only 50 metres off the Pan Americana but somewhat insulated from the traffic noise by thick bush that also hid us from prying eyes. The valley dropped precipitously on both sides. At night the lights of houses on the far side of the valley made it difficult discerning where the lights finished and the stars began. It was an ideal way to spend the first night back on the road.

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