Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Pasto to Palmira, March 29

The hostel in Pasto was right downtown on the main square.  Actually, there seems to be two main squares in Pasto, the traditional one opposite the grande iglesia physically square in configuration,  and a much larger rectangular one adjacent to some government buildings with modern sculpture and a vast expanse of interestingly sloped and terraced stone and concrete surface - we faced the latter of the two.
There was not much happening in Pasto on Sunday night, and we were lucky to find a restaurant open for dinner.  At LeMerced, we had a delicious Camarones Criolla - jumbo shrimp in a tomato and onion broth.
We're pushing hard to get to Bogota and arrange shipping to Panama for March 31st, so we were on the road by 7am.  Getting out of Pasto was easy, as the street beside the hostal actually linked directly into the Panamerica Norte.  The ride started with a mountain ascent in a slight drizzle, but by the time we descended the range we hd left the rain behind and the climate had changed from tropical to semi-arid desert and 38 degree C heat.
We got stopped by the Nacional Policia at a checkpoint around El Estrecho.  The guys weren't interested in official business, but they wanted to have their pictures taken with us and the bikes!
After  another mountain pass, we were back in the tropics again all the way past Cali to Palmira.

We stopped at a hostal in the countryside outside Palmira after almost 500km of riding.  It was  a "rustic" place; a swimming pool, but so murky you couldn't see the bottom, no shower heads in the bathrooms  etc. -  the property has only recently been acquired as a family operation, and although a considerable amount of renovation has been completed around the grounds, and much more is in progress, there is still alot to be done.

Petra went to grab a quick shower, and as soon as she turned on the water a pipe burst in the vanity, sending a geyser of dark brown water up to the ceiling.  Once we'd dried out a bit, we hit the sack for an early start tomorrow to try and get to Bogota - it's only 450km's away, but apparently a 10 to 12 hour ride!

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