Semana Santa in Popyan! It is considered done of the top places in the world to be for this holy week leading up to Easter. Almost every single Colombian has the week off so the whole country has become flooded with Colombian tourists!
I have started my journey venturing down to Ecuador with my friend from Washington State leadership camp, Steven. He will be joining me for three weeks and its my first time traveling with someone else.
Popayan has Cathedrals, statues, artwork, artisans, and friendly people. Did I mention the town loves Catholicism?
We were told from the guide book that you must have a reservation during this time of the year. It also said to expect that dorm rooms would be three times as they usually are. Steven and I arrived at 7:00 pm with no reservations, smart right?
We stumbled upon expensive places and finally settled into a backpacker hostel for a super cheap Price. Steven found a bed for $22,000 COP ($11.00 USD) and I ran into some friends of mine and was able to sleep on the floor for $10,000 COP ($5.00 USD). Nice Price right? Its actually cheaper than any other place I have stayed at. So much for what the guide book says!
Here comes another lesson that I have learned that I want to keep reiterating. People talk about all sorts of things in life. Some of it is true, and some of it is false. Take what people say with a grain of salt and consider where the information comes from. The only real way to truly experience or know anything about something is to go and figure it out for yourself. I cannot say how many times people told me not to do something because it is too scary, expensive, or not worth it. When I ended up doing, seeing or going to where they said not to, it was one of the most favorite parts of my trip. This is definitely a lesson I will bring back to me in the United States. Listening to yourself is most important!
Back to Popayan, the town was packed full of Colombians as they were all on their spring break. The streets were flooded with people were watching the procession of the Catholic idols. This ranged from Jesus to Mother Mary, to children carrying candles to the military carrying guns and saluting. This was a very serious sight to be seen as people travel from all over the world to see this!
We went out at night and enjoyed the locals and met some really lovely people. Its been quite lovely traveling with another person that I trust. I do not always have to make decisions on my own and its a nice change of pace.
To get to Popayan from Salento you have to take a bus from the center of Salento to a larger town nearby called Armenia. The bus ride is $3,600 COP ($1.30 USD) and takes about 45 minutes through the rolling luscious green hills.
From the Aremnia terminal we took another bus that was sold to us as ¨direct¨ to Popayan. We discovered it was not as direct as we thought and stopped in Cali, dropping off people in town and sitting an extra hour in traffic. The bus ride was $35,000 COP ($17.50 USD) and the whole bus ride was an easy 6.5 hours.