I'm currently sitting at Hostel Caracol in Popayán typing this blog post drinking a cup of locally grown top quality Colombian coffee and eating chocolate cake. Life could be a lot worse as a digital nomad. I arrived here last night by way of economic collectivo. The driver was weaving in and out of traffic the whole time and I was sitting in the backseat with a pregnant woman and her adoring husband trying to sleep after an exhausting day wandering the streets of Cali for over 6 hours! It was a crazy whirlwind of an afternoon and I survived unscathed! Here's to the crazy ones! This is a photo of Popayán which is known for its whitewashed buildings. It's been raining most of the day.
I checked out of my hostel early in the morning after a 12 hours bus ride from Medellin. I walked over 3 miles to another hostel with better reviews. I passed through some pretty sketchy areas of Cali and considered taking a bus or taxi multiple times, but I wanted to explore the city by foot and take in the sights. This trip has taught me a lot about determination and the importance of asking for help. Sometimes the best policy is to walk with a strong purpose, avoid eye contact whenever possible, or simply offer up a good-natured smile. After walking for over an hour and getting lost a few times, I reached the location of my hostel and it was nowhere to be found. After asking for directions and failing to get a taxi downtown, I decided to continue walking the streets in search of a place to rest. Sometimes life would be easier with a travel companion who speaks Spanish. To quote The Rolling Stones, "You can't always get what you want."
The sun was beating down onto me, my back was hurting from the heavy hiking bag, and I desperately wanted to find a hotel to sleep. Upon reaching the downtown area I walked into the lobby of a fancy hotel called Intercontinental. I gave the man behind the desk my passport, figuring there was no way I could rationally afford staying here. Sure enough, their most modestly priced room was $273,000 pesos, or approximately 10 days at an average hostel in Colombia. Thanks, but no thanks, sir! I immediately walked outside to a nearby park and launched the drone from a safe spot next to a statue. I captured some incredible panoramic photos, landed the drone with minutes to spare, threw it in my bag, and caught a bus to somewhere else. As far as I was concerned, my job here was done. I had seen enough of this place to know that I didn't want to be here anymore. A nice college girl directed me to the nearest bus station and told me where to go. The bus was jammed full of people with barely enough room to move side to side. After roughly 15 minutes of claustrophobia, I escaped the bus and walked to another station. Glancing upward, I saw the familiar cable cars from Medellin floating through the sky. They attracted me upward as if by magnetic force. I eagerly hopped into the car and was quickly lifted high above Cali. It's crazy to see the deplorable living conditions of people in this country. The houses are built on top of each other with collapsing walls and little in the way of privacy. I used this as an opportunity to capture video with my iPad which I will include in my short personal documentary of Colombia! No drone necessary.
I was now back on the ground after floating around in the sky for about 15 minutes. Everything is more beautiful from above! Now it was time to continue my journey to find the south terminal station. I walked another mile, stopped into a McDonalds against my better judgment to get a quick bite to avoid passing out, and continued my search for a way out of this place. Do you ever wonder why we do all this searching, when all the answers we need are inside ourselves... When you're lost and lonely, sometimes the best thing you can do is ask for help. That's when I found a friend who helped me reach my destination. Jefferson only spoke Spanish so we used Google Translate to communicate back and forth. I bought him a beer as a thank you for his guidance and we parted ways. I get by with a little help from my friends.
My next destination is Quito, Ecuador! I've wanted to visit this place ever since I was a young child in school. I'm excited to finally achieve my dream. It's been an interesting journey traveling through Colombia for 10 days. I originally intended to spend more time in this country, but I must follow my magnetic compass drawing me closer to the equator!