Rambling Robert's Travels

This blog chronicals the travels of myself, Rambling Robert, on my next adventure to South America.

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I am a world traveller. I do not work as such. I have been homeless and unemployed since 1October 2003. I worked as a chef for 30 years in America.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Greetings from Popayan Colombia

Hi Everyone,
I am in colombia in a nice city called Popayan near the Ecuador border. I arrived here last night on October 17 2005 I wound up staying in Villcabamba Ecuador for 4 weeks at the most wonderful Rumi Wilco EcoLodge. Very cool place. I stayed with Angela until the 15th of Octobver and we said our tearful good-byes at the bus station in the rain. A heavy moment for the travelling man. Stephen Hawkins says you can either know the location of an object or its velocity but you cant know both. You cant stay in one place and keep moving. I decided to keep moving.
Ecuador was great. I loved the people and food and scenery and climate. My first impressions of Colombia are also wonderful.
The scenery from the Ecuador Border to Popayan was breathtaking! Absolutely beautiful. The bus went through many high mountain passes with dramatic drops and beautiful jungle and farm land everywhere. I travelled in busses all day from Quito to Popayan left at 8 in the morning and got here at 10 at night. I got to my hotel which was reccommended in Footprints guide, uugghh what a dump! The guy who let me in and showed me around stunk of rum. He shows me the room which looked pretty old and tired, no windows, no furniture, but a cable TV (I hate TV). In the bathroom across the hall there was a cockroach the size of my thumb on his back with his little legs kicking and the doorman smiles at it and says ¿Ya Aqui? (your still here?) Well now let me just say that I have stayed in $5.00 per night hotels all ñovere the world and I know when I am in a nice one and when I am in a dive. I aint expecting the Chicago Hilton but this was funky even by my standards. I watched the morning Lies on CNN and left to find another room. I found a nice place across the town for the same price 10,000 pesos per night at about 2,300 pesos to the doollar that would make the room about $4.00. The new room has no TV.I came to Popayan mainly because it is close to San Augustin and there was no direct route to San Augustin from Ecuador except ot go through Popayan. It is also a nice climate city at about 1700 meters above Sea Level,so I think I will stay a day or two and get adjusted to Colombia and then take the 6 1\2 hour bus trip to San Augustin.
San Augustine is famous for being an archeological site. There are over 1000 huge stone statues in situ of men gods and animals. These works were begun about 3300BC and continued until the very early 1500s culminating with the European invasion and the terrible plagues spread to the local people by the invading barbarians. No one knows who cut the statues or why.It is in a valley that is near Ecuador (200km from the border) and it is supposed to be exquisitely beautiful and tranquil...Ahhem
Well, uhh, not exactly real tranquil in the technical sense. Colombia haws been in a civil war for some 30 years. the FARC (Armed Forces of Colombian Revolution)or (Colombian Revolutionary Armed Forces) have been fighting the "legitimate" government in the south and east of Colombia for all this time. In the North west near Panama is the EFN another guerilla army but I am not planning to go to their territory, I am already in FARC territory!! The war is a low intensity struggle wtih all the armies carefully avoiding one another. However there is some violence and it can be...uuhhh ...interesting. There were soldiers on the road every 10 km or so they frequently stopped the bus and asked to see everyones papers. In Ecuador near the border I (my bus)was stopped twice from the Anti-Drug Police. Glad I burned my last reefer in Quito! SShhaahhhh Who BRINGS marijuana to Colombia? So anyway, I went to see the tourism police here in Popayan because the only reliable information is local and it changes all the time.
After being searched at the entrance to the Police station I asked the nice cops about San Augustine. They report to me that:
The road is open and not damaged.
It is safe for Tourists but not for Americans. "Where are you from?" they ask. "New Zealand I say" "oh no problem then" Okay well I guess you can see how ñmy plan is developing. To a person from Colombia an American accent and a Kiwi accent sound the same!!! Glad I have my "All Blacks" baseball cap with the silver fern on the front to wear!
I asked why it is safe for everyone except Americans and they said it is because my government is waging a big campain against the Guerillas. So they think the guerillas may take out their anger and frustration at GWB on ordinary Americans. I asked if there have been any recent incidents against American or other tourists and they said the last one was more than 2 years ago. I will go to San Augustine either tomorrow or the 20th and stay for 2 or 3 days and then head north to Cali. I will update you all when I get to Cali...
I had an important day in Villcabamba on October 1,2005 I entered my 25th month of being unemployed and homeless. I am now in my third year of travelling and no end in sight.

Ciao for Now
Robert here is an interesting closing thought from about 45 years ago...
"Every time we (the USA) buy a new weapon
we effectivly decide not to feed a hungry person somewhere in the world"-
Dwight D Eisenhower 5 star General and President of the United States


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