Chapter 6::Table of Contents::Chapter 8

Chapter 7
Popayan

Wed Oct 25:

Awoke after fitful sleep at 5:15 to catch the 6AM to Popayan. When we left it was raining and foggy.

After an 1 1/2 35P ride to Popayan we found our way to the Res. Gualcala as recommended by the French Folks in Tierradentro. The first order of business was to take a hot (luke-hot) shower which felt so good after the weeks of cold or cool.

We showered, shaved, and went next door to a restaurant for some real food. There next to us in the rest. was a fellow passed out from too much alcohol. A lady and another fellow finally woke him up enough to drag him out the door. Then at the table across the way a baby was screaming throughout half our meal until its older sister took it outside. [1]

From breakfast we went to the Tourist Office and got info about Puracé and Popayan. We mailed letters at the Office, came back, cross-checked restaurants, and headed off to the El Fiasán.

On our way over the bridge a fellow stopped us and asked for a match. Another of his friends came over and started talking to us - asking if we were from Ca. The third fellow who joined us (all Colombian) looked real spaced out with red eyes and a spooky gaze. It became clear after much talk about coke & pot that these guys were druggies of the 1st degree. But not police. During the course of our conversation they offered to buy us an oz. for 300P and then take us to a waterfall near town.

Came back to the res. to get some money, went across the street for a tinto, and then through the beautiful streets of Popayan to the first fellow’s residencia. The spooky guy parted company en route. Evidently he was studying engineering and one day he just changed. Now he’s spaced - his old friends don’t talk to him - but his family has “millions”.

Colombians #1 & #2 sat with us in the res. and proceeded to lay out 4 lines of coke. All accompanied by much Technical Talk about the refinement of coke. After tooting up a line each, Colo. #2 went off to buy the goods. N. & #1 talked much about drugs and life in Colo.

Later than sooner #2 came back with a good oz. of Grade AA #1 Prime. After 1 J [2] and time for it to settle, we rolled the goods into a notebook paper and stuffed it into N’s shoe. On the way out to the bus to the waterfall - #2 parted company.

While N went to our res. to stash the goods, #1 & I sat in the corner Rest. and drank a gaseosa. He told about coke smuggling - dumping coffee beans off boats into the water and then coming back with another boat, picking it up, and selling to the natives cheap. He also told about dynamiting fish.

After a goodly time had passed - N. had still not come back from the res. I was stoned and had visions of the police waiting for him back at the res. But not to worry - he was just waiting for the baño to clear for his use.

Then off to the bus stop. First Line #3, then Line #2, finally the one we wanted - #1 came along. Just as we were about to get onto the bus - N. felt faint. He held back - but then to my great dismay - he proceeded to faint. We helped him back into the safety island where he sat feeling woozey & ill. He was sweating and very pale yellow.

I hustled over to a local soda fount. and brought him back a glass of water. We sat on the dirt for about 15 min. Then crossed the st. to the shady grass. There N. laid down and tried to regain his sense of reality. It was probably just too much action, too much sun, too much drugs, and too much hunger all combined to flatten him right out. We sat in the grass for about 1/2 hr.

When he felt good enough to walk, we headed for the market to buy some fruit for quick energy. After we had purchased 3 apples, N. had another attack. We were standing in the sun getting ready to eat the apples when he put his head against the light post - said “Here we go again” and proceeded to slide down the pole. We helped him to the corner where he sat and felt bad for several minutes.

During his sitting - #1 Colo. was holding N’s middle finger - tweaking the end joint. Later N was to say that this touching, to a large degree, gave him something external to relate to, and brought him back to reality a 2nd time.

Once he was back on his feet we headed for the shade. The res. was only about 2 blocks away - but only 1/2 block from our destination - he had a 3rd attack, a bad gut cramp. Didn’t pass out or loose control, but he crouched & held onto an iron window cover for a couple. Then finally back at the res. he kicked back, took his shoes off, and regained most of his reality.

After realizing the cause of his weakness - he felt better. Our main concern then was to get some food into him. We walked down to the Mei Chi (or something) a Chinese rest. but it was closed. #1 Colo. parted company and we walked back to our original destination - El Fiasán. There we had a real meal with meat, not too much rice, and fried potats. After din. N felt “600%” better.

Just before leaving for dinner we met another Gringo couple from Canada who told us there were also 2 French guys staying here. Our friends from Tierradentro!

After dinner we stopped across the st. for a jugo de mora, and some little bagel-like things. Bought some bread and dulces, came back to the res and munched out. By this time it was time to settle a meal.

First to clean the POT. In the midst of cleaning - a knock on the door. Who could it be but the Frenchies? They told N. some fellow was waiting outside but couldn’t come in because of something about a disagreement with the mgr. So out went N. to talk to #1 Colo. who had said he would come back.

I talked to the French. for a while and then they left me to record the day’s events.

After recording the above, I went to pay the man for the night. He told me that either #1 or #2 (who it turns out, came to the door) I couldn’t tell which, would sell to you and then soon, The Police would show up - asking for bribes or haul you to jail. When N. returned we experienced a fresh wave of paranoia. Couldn’t decide if we should follow our instincts which said that the fellows were all right - or if we should listen to the old guy and get rid of the stuff. We compromised by stashing it all in a safe place. Our paranoia was not lessened. We shall see what we shall see. If there’s that knock in the middle of the night - we’ll deny everything and let ’em search.

Today has been a real roller coaster ride. Started up in Silvia then down into Pop (both alt. and rain). Then up for showers & gringos, then a little down when we met the #s 1, 2, 3 because of paranoia, then up with the coke & stuff, then down with N. falling apart for a while, then up during and after dinner watching the beautiful sunset and enjoying the picturesque colonial atmosphere, then down with our fresh wave of paranoia. Too much too fast. A day to remember.

Thurs Oct 26:

Awoke to only slightly less paranoia. We hadn’t been carried off during the nite so we presumed our situation to be less than critical.

#1 was to meet us at 9:AM. The first thing we did was cash $100 in cheques. Then next door to meet #1 and have breakfast. Just as were finishing up - #1 & #2 showed up. They went off to the market to eat and we stopped back at the res. to get cameras. Then off to the market to meet 1&2.

We bought some bananas and tried again to get to the waterfall. This time we made it. It was about a 10 min ride and 15 min walk to a beautiful site with waterfall & many faceted rocks . After burning one - we sat around and bemoaned the fact that we had only 1 roll of film. After shooting almost all the roll - we perceived that these fellows were not likely to turn us over to the fuzz. In fact - N even asked them why the res. fellow thought that buying from them meant a quick trip to the slammer. They merely said that some folks are prejudiced against smokers and that this fellow was one. Being set somewhat at ease - we finished the roll and walked back to town. About a 1/2-hr to 45 min stroll. We parted company with friendship.

Before they left - they took us to a little food stand at the market where we had a good bowl of soup with avocados on the side. On the way back to the res. we bought some apples, a liter of Colombiana and some dulce de guayava. Back at the res. we polished off the food and wrote post cards.

The couple from Canada and the 2 French guys left today. But we talked for a while with another Canadian couple (Beautiful lady!) and I wound up selling them 2 rolls of film (1 each) for $5 per roll including processing. We also met 2 other Canadians, both girls.

After talking for a while - N & I strolled around the streets looking at all the beautiful girls and photographing the architecture . We walked up to the hill outside of town & enjoyed the view.

Then back to drop off the cameras. Back at the res. we talked more to the 4 Canadians. The girls have 2 mos. and are going straight to Peru. The couple have 6 weeks and are also moving fast. We’re glad we’re traveling slow. Then another lady (Australian) with BIG tits and red hair came in with 3 other Swedish folks (2 guys - 1 girl) and all of us sat in the courtyard exchanging experiences & plans.

N showered, and it was off to the Mey Chow - good food at not too high prices. $2.00 got us a plate of Arroz a la Valenciana, chicken smothered with rice & shrimp & broccoli & beans & all good. Back at the res. to relax and debate whether or not to settle the meal.

Popayan is a nice town. It’s a good change to come from all the camping and cold into a city with parks and pretty streets almost like Oaxaca and San Francisco & Cart. combined. The folks are not too friendly - but for any city it’s all right. The climate is pleasant and I’d recommend the city to anyone seeking a break from the country. It’s definitely along the “Gringo Trail”. There are more gringos here combined than all we’ve seen since San Andres Island.

After the courtyard scene quieted down and the alarm clock was lent out to 2 different sites (Lady with BIG tits and mouth to match. She said good by to the Swedes “See you in Quito on Tuesday”. And the Canadian couple) we decided finally to settle the meal. Whew! This is 2 & 1 stuff: 2 now, 1 later. Then proceeded to write to Hector in our semi-lucid state.

Fri Oct 27:

Y’r basic day of relaxation. Awoke late (8:30) to large amounts of zacklies & thin mental proficiency.

We joined the 2 Canadian girls (Maggie & Loraine) for breakfast at the place we tried the first day here but was closed. After a leisurely meal we grabbed cameras (all 4 of us) and headed into town to mail the letter to Hector and stroll about taking pictures . Stopped and bought some good whole-wheat bread and took pics ’til it started to sprinkle. Pulled into an ice-cream parlour for jugos and then back to the res.

We compiled our shopping list and went to the market. Bought bananas, potatoes, green beans, red peppers, chicken bullion, dulcé de guayava, queso campesino, onion, and some Colombiana. N. also got some kind plant he claims can be made into tea.

Back at the res. we waited for the girls to get back. When they arrived we all feasted on whole wheat bread, cheese, dulcé, Colombiana, and papaya that they supplied. After lunch they left to change money and we washed out sox & shirts. Talked with a fellow from Australia who is also going south and also met another fellow from Norway.

The guy that runs the place told us last nite to watch out for the fellows we met (#1 & #2) because they’re likely to scope out your stuff and then get somebody to rip you off. We took his warnings with a grain of salt.

They paint the rooms here with a roller like a roll-stamp die. The same pattern on walls, woodwork, and ceiling. Sometimes straight, sometimes not. The one here is of a swan swimming among reeds and flowers.

After napping for a while I awoke to find it raining on my clothes. We arranged a makeshift line from the drainpipe to the window under the eaves.

M & L came back with 4 loaves of whole wheat bread. N asked them if they’d like to get high. M said they do but had to go to a native folk music show.

About dinnertime the lights went out. There were English lessons, tongue twisters, Spanish lessons, foreign coins and even a 1922 5000 Mark Deutsch Bill. [3] The real prize was the coin from Japan with a hole in the middle. All this shown by the daughter.

There’s the guy who runs the place, a fat, nappy, well dressed with hat type successful Colombian with a wife who washes clothes, cooks, and generally runs the place; and daughter, a jolly, pudgy, typical Colo. teenage girl from the city, who likes to talk to tourists staying at her home. She’s collected coins from all over the world. South African Kroner to Belicé 1c. There’s another little girl who hangs around and may also be a relative or something who likes dirty looks and will step on your toes. Then there’s the young boy who sweeps and mops the floors and helps out.

After the language and culture exchange we went next door for a typical meal by candle light and were joined by the Norwegian named Andreas. When we arrived the Aussie was already there eating. We ate together and talked about making a living as a photographer and traveling around the world.

We’re on the trail here. The gringos go through here like corpuscles in a blood stream. Going South is the prevailing direction.

We had dinner back at the room and the 4 of us sat around and talked politics to peanuts. As the eve dragged on I got to like the folks more & more. People like ourselves - travelers. The Aussie claims to have “seen most of the world by now, I reckon.” A. had been to Japan. We’re just beginners. N & I asked A. to join us in a nite cap. He accepted. Soo we pulled the pot out after great turmoil and proceeded with 2 for the road. On his way out A. stopped by the door and said “There’s a Policeman standing outside the hotel”. Paranoia strikes again.

Tomorrow, Grid willing, we’ll go to the Park Puracé and have a look at this volcano.


[1] Before leaving the res. for the second time to go to the Tourist O. we met two folks (a couple) from Canada. We talked for 45 min. giving them info about Tierradentro, San Augustin, and Silvia. We listened to their experiences of driving their sta. wag. through Mex,& Guat. They sold the car between borders going into El Salvador.

[2] used Pielroja sin filtro package paper for rolling

[3] all under candle light

Chapter 6::Table of Contents::Chapter 8