|Pineapples in this part of the world taste about ten times better from the ones I've tasted back home|
The next day after several photos of their novel decorations I hit the road for the last stretch to Popayan. It was a struggle and I was cycling even slower than my usual relaxed pace.
|The lovely family who invited me in and gave me a bed when I needed it, not to mention a great dinner.|
|Their novel wall decorations made up of lots and lots of cigarette packs|
|Beer bottle tops, a novel way to re-use them|
Thankfully I was less than 5 km along the road when I bumped into the incredibly friendly Alvaro who was out for a Saturday spin. I apologised for my slow pace explaining that I was a bit under the weather. He didn't seem to mind and even invited me back to his house for lunch. I ended up staying with Avaro and his lovely family; wife Rubia, daughter Manuela and their uncle for a week! I was in no position to cycle for a few day and as luck would have it I was after stumbling across one of the kindest families in Popayan, not only that but Rubiela was a nurse who worked in the local hospital. Herself and Alvaro brought me into the hospital for a quick check. I had been staying in a house during my last week in Cali with a girl who was recovering from dengue fever. Thankfully I didn't end up having dengue and just needed plenty of rest.
|Myself, Alvaro and some of Rubiela's family|
|Central Popayan with all of it's white buildings|
|Alvaro testing out my mattress. Alvaro was one of the biggest (actually smallest) messers that I've ever met and kept me well entertained!|
|Mountains getting bigger in southern Colombia|
A week later I hit the road fully recovered thanks to the tremendous hospitality of the Muñoz family. I was slightly apprehensive as to what lay ahead of me for my last few hundred kilometres to the Ecuador border. This was because I had to try and pass "los Paros" which were the strikes and roadblocks that had been taking place in numerous parts of Colombia for the previous fortnight. They were the main thing on the Colombian news stations. I had been warned by Nicolas (the Argentinian Pan American cyclist) that they were not the most pleasant. The strikes were taking place in various areas of the country for different reasons ranging from miners rights, the low price of coffee and other foods, students and free trade agreements.
|Not taking any chances with this police tank|
|Strong police presence on the road in southern Colombia|
|No way through|
|The interview before chaos insued|
|Pouring petrol on the police mens clothes and belongings|
|.. and then they were set alight|
|Miller, my escort through the police free striking town of Mujarras. As you can see vehicles could not pass. It was enough of a struggle with the two of us trying to lift my heavy bike over the tree!|
|Lots of various burnt out remains|
|A few beeps and thumbs up of encouragement from the passing convey from the red cross. Some of the very little traffic that passed.|
|First night wild camping in Colombia and the bugs ate me alive|
|Here a block, there a block|
|A deserted Pan American highway|
Normally I time my border crossings to be in the morning or early afternoon but with all the uncertainty of the previous days strikes I was keen to get into Ecuador. At about 5.30 in the evening I crossed the border into Ecuador during a World Cup qualifier between Colombia and Ecuador. While I was getting my passport stamped on the Colombian side they scored a goal and the entire staff including security guards ran into a tiny office to see the goal. Ah the World Cup!
|Ecuador line up for a penalty which they missed.|
|The fantastic extended Espana family where I stayed on my last night in Colombia in Pasto.|