Wednesday, December 12, 2007


Another long bus ride took us to Popayan, which the guidebook interestingly describes as a safe place centred in a hive of guerrilla activity. Night busses are a no-no around here, as they often get hijacked and the occupants liberated of all their earthly possessions (the ones they carry on the bus, anyway).

After nine-months of getting into taxis, and occasionally being ripped off by the driver, I turned the tables on this, our halfway point, and ripped myself off. Here's how: The Colombian peso is an outrageously large currency- every Australian dollar is worth 1800 pesos (and falling)- so it's a little tricky to deal with all the massive numbers that get thrown your way. Compounding the problem is the fact that the 1000 peso note is the same colour scheme as the 10 000 peso note, so of course in all the darkeness of arriving at night and confusion of huge numbers and similar looking bills, I inadvertently substituted a 10 000 note for a 1000 note and ended up paying 12 000 pesos for a 3000 peso ride (a price which was already a bit steep anyway).

Christmas-themed illumination is a serious business in Colombia- at this time of year, every town decks out their plaza with thousands of watts of coloured lights and, in the case of Popayan, large glowing fruits. If I were brave or stupid enough to take out the tripod I'm sure there'd be some spectacular shots of beautifully decorated town squares, but Iíd like to keep a hold of my gear for a little longer.

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