Posted by: Colin | June 7, 2010

Monsters and Trouble at the Border

 We arrived at the hostel. Managed to get a twin room for the price of a dorm. Was rather disconcerting as everyone was warning us how dangerous the area was and how dangerous the buses can be. Hunger as we were we went to a Mexican restaurant. Amazingly a bloke, Chris, sat down who was from Edinburgh. We welcomed his poor pronunciation of Spanish words. He wouldn´t have been out of place saying “I hate Colombia.” At the end he invited us to his DJ set in the Cowgate on Saturday nights.

The next morning we hit the zoo. The lonely planet didn´t lie when it said “you get close to the animals.” The aviary and butterfly cage meant you could touch the animals if you were brave enough. The speed and proxcimity to the birds was slight disconcerting as some were massive. The big cats seemed to be right next the path until you were at the fence and you could see a small trench. All in all better than Edinburgh Zoo and the animals seemed happier and livelier.

That evening we got the bus to Ipiales on the Ecuadorian border. It was a night bus which has been robbed several times over last year. Undoubtedly we were a bit apprehensive about being kidnapped or robber. When we sat down the conductor came around with a video camera to take photos of all the passengers. We could only hypothesis that this was to document that was on the bus incase anything happened. A scare thought to say the least. Jamie decided to hide his passport between the frame of the seat and the mattress. The bus left and I fell asleep.

We arrived in Ipiales the next morning around 8am and decided to head into the centre to get cash and food. When we reached the ATM Jamie remembered he had left his passport on the bus. Panic ensued! We hailed and taxi and sped off to the bus terminal. We found the bus operator and explained to situation in our terrible Spanish. Thankfully the bus wasn´t scheduled to leave until 3pm. The operator said he would have a look. 1.5 hrs later he returned with no passport. Jamie then convinced the driver to let him look personally. Hallelujah he returned with it.

We then hopped into a taxi got some food and sped off to a Cathedral at the bottom of a Jorge. It was amazing. The climb back to the top was hard with the altitude and our massive back packs. We crossed the border with no problems and got on another 8hr journey to Quito. Although long the journey on the pan American express though high Andes passes was breath taking.



  1. The feeling of loosing your passport, truly is sickening! Thank goodness he found it. Looking forward to a picture fest at some point here on the net!

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