Rain pounds down in the Ecuadorian border town of Tulcan, and other than a visit to the cemetery to marvel at the cool topiaries, there’s not much to do. With errands run and a couple of cups of instant coffee downed, I settle in to figuring out my route through Colombia.
Everyone I've met heading south has their own tale of Colombian hospitality and warmth as the locals yearn to put some dark years behind them and show off a country with a lot more to offer than powdery noses for the western world.
With a fresh stamp in the passport, I make my way through gritty Ipiales for Cumbal and head up through old FARC territory to the Laguna.
Laguna Cumbal has, well, seen better days...
After a brief bit winding north along quiet dirt roads, it's on with the helmet to Tuquerres and up to Laguna Verde where clouds part momentarily to reveal the lake in all its glory.
I lost count of the blue laguna verdes in Chile. Ripe with sulfuric content, this one is as green as they come. Stunning.
Not long out of Tuquerres, I sniff out a bit of lesser traveled road and dirt over towards Ancuya.
Recycling or drinking problem? Either or the favorite here is Poker - one of Colombia's "finest."
A wincher up the other side of the valley from Ancuya deposits me into Sandora where I weave in amongst the afternoon mix of pedestrians, cars, and motorcycles mushing together and doing laps around the main square.
My luck riding between rain showers runs out the following day and it's a wet one to Pasto.
A day in Pasto brings requisite graffiti wanderings.
Navidad is in the air. A few of the parks are covered in white foam with ten-meter high angels. The locals smile at my smile, sensing I probably know what the real stuff is all about.
Old school brass type. Solid.
A cloudy morning breaks over Laguna de la Cocha as I head into the Sibundoy Valley.
The thin ribbon of dirt twisting its way over the sub tropical range separating San Francisco from Mocoa is known as EL Trampolin de la Muerte, which translates loosely as "a pretty nice dirt road with some yellow caution tape here and there."
The site of multiple yearly accidents, rank definitely has its privilege along El Trampolin.
Thumbs-ups were not in short supply from those who make the daily grind. Gracias, Amigos.
The Temple of Brave Face.
Even when I pass military checkpoints on my way to San Agustin, the guys decked out with semi-automatics always flash a thumbs-up and big Colombian smile.
San Agustin and nearby Isnos are home to three separate parks (San Agustin Archaeological Park, Alto de los Idolos and Alto de Las Piedras) housing the largest collection of pre-Columbian megalithic funerary monuments, statuary, an burial mounds in South America. A short walk out of town, San Agustin's Archaeological Park is beautiful with beautiful stone carvings scattered amongst three main burial sites.
The grounds themselves are spectacular with Zen like paths connecting the three main mesitas and offering moments to simple listen to the sub tropical hum of the surrounding jungle.
Tulcan – Cumbal – Tuquerres - Guaitarilla – Ancuya – Sandora - Pasto - Sibundoy - Mocoa - San Juan - San Agustin GPX TRACK HERE