We definitely fell in love with Colombia but it was time to get moving to our next destination: Ecuador!
The journey over the border began with a flight from Santa Marta to Pasto (place closest to the border that had an airport). We landed on a spectacular tiny runway on a mountain top and quickly made our way onto a bus heading for Ipiales. This should’ve been a straight forward bus but the driver tried to take a tactical shortcut which involved a narrow dirt path in pitch black with lots of other trucks and cars having the same idea but coming in the opposite direction!
Once we arrived we found a cheap hotel called Imperio, not as awful as it sounds. Being out of a dorm and in our own space was just what we needed. We crossed the road to find some food, it was our grimmest point of our trip so far…sitting freezing cold exhausted eating sausages and chips. We were missing the sunshine from the Colombian coast!
The border crossing could not have been more straight forward, stamp out of Colombia crossed the bridge then a stamp into Ecuador (And a change of currency into dollars). A quick colectivo to the border town Tulcan then another bus to Quito. Apparently this bus was to take 4/5 hours…it took about 7!
The scenery was spectacular but it stopped to let every Tom Dick & Harry & their chicken on. It took so long and hot like a green house with the sunshine. A brief moment of relief getting an ice cream at one of our many stops.
Late at night we arrived at Secret Garden Hostel in the San Blas area of Quito. The rooftop bar on the 4th floor has a wonderful view of the city! Unfortunately due to our very long bus we missed dinner and happy hour so we nipped down the road for pizza/pasta and beer. Ecuadorian Pilsner being our new beer of choice!
Excited for another free walking tour, our excellent guide Consuelo told us great stories about her own experiences with different Ecuadorian cultures…guinea pigs (called cooi cooi because that’s the sound they make), the traditional, spiritual medicine (aka hallucinogenic drug) Ayahuasca, and the head shrinking tribe tradition (creepy!) etc etc.
The two of us, plus our friends Liz and Harry ran up and down streets looking for the group for a while before we sat in the grand plaza. It was a beautiful square full of locals and a man trying to catch flying pigeons…
We eventually decided to go back to the hostel to find out where the tour had gone so we could catch the end of it which was an interesting and tasty chocolate demonstration. It also meant we could get the bus that was going to the equator line/middle of the world. We’d been told it’s a bit of a fools gold moment but we loved it!
The museum was small but the feisty tour guide lady whizzed us round, told us lots of fun facts, freightened us slightly, and showed us cool tricks on and off the equator line. The whole thing was a laugh a minute, highly recommend paying the $4 AND…take your passport you can get a stamp!