First, in case you're curious, my wanderings around all the towns I am visiting are visible on my Strava profile. There's a link to it in the column to the right, or if you're on a phone or small tablet it's probably below these blog entries. So far, the towns are Buga, Popayán, Pitalito, and Mocoa. In each of those town I walked between 20 - 25 kilometers (12 - 15 miles) exploring them.
This morning I left Ipiales and headed for the border of Ecuador. I walked as it was only about 3 kilometers. On the way, there are people, mostly taxis, parked alongside the road wherever a bit of water flowed down from the hillside, and they used to wash their cars. I thought that was interesting, I've seen that before. But, apparently, it's something normal for them. I reached Rumichaka, the border crossing, and I must say it was with a little bit of trepadation—my entry stamp was long ago expired. At the immigration center I told the guy that I wanted to self-deport, we talked a bit, and he said we needed to meet again at 2 pm (it was a couple of minutes before 12) when he would be back from his lunch break. Yeah, lunch breaks here are 2 hours, that's the norm for Colombia (I don't yet know about the other South American countries). So, during his break he and I talked a lot about many things, he's a really nice guy and very helpful. He said the process for me to get a legal exit stamp would take 3 days, but with the weekend, that meant staying until next Wednesday. I suggested passing a little extra under the table to get the stamp today, and he agreed. He talked to another guy and the two of them got me a legal exit stamp with no deporting problems. I just had to pay the fine for the expired entry stamp plus a little extra for the two of them. And now, all is well.
In Ecuador, in the town of Tulcan, I had only a couple of hours before the bus for Ibarra would leave, so I explored the famous Tulan cemetery. You have to see the pics, the place has the most incredible sculptured shrubs I've ever seen. I also have a few pics of the downtown area.
I caught a bus for the 3-hour trip to Ibarra, arriving at about 8 pm. There are pics of a couple of churches and a park where a large group of teens was celebrating a birthday and shooting some fireworks, check out the pics in the photo album. I met a man from France, Adrien, here at the hostal and we talked quite a lot, then the next morning he left to explore the town, and a while I left to explore, also. When I was at the top of a hill with a view of the entire city he was also there. We talked and took pics and shared contact info. Almost every day on my journey I have met at least one other English-speaking person.
Ibarra is colder than I expected so I won't be here for more than two nights. I'm anxious to get to a warmer climate, but first I have two nights already reserved in a hostal in Atuntaqui. Then I want to see some of Quito (which is quite cold because of its high elevation). But, once I'm finished there, I'll head into warmer climes.