The next few days running were in the Caucus Valley and except for the heat were pretty easy. On the way to Buga I met a French cyclist called Bruno who works for the French embassy in Lima, Peru.
He was on his way to Bogota, the Colombian capital to meet his wife for a short break.
Bruno told me he took a bus from Pasto to Cali as he heard it was too dangerous due to FARC guerilla activities on the road. FARC details > HERE
I guess he was travelling on a diplomatic passport, I think I would be worried too if I was travelling through FARC territory with such a passport!
I arrived after dark in Buga and took an instant dislike to it. Motorbikes whizzing around every corner, one needs to have eyes in the back of ones head to avoid being run over, many don’t even have lights. And then there are the bicycles and taxis, none having any regard for pedestrians. They just honk and laugh as they run you off the road. It was no fun finishing here in the dark, but a good 55km day never the less.
THE NICEST THING ABOUT BUGA, WELL THIS WAS ON THE ROAD OUT OF TOWN.
The street system is very well designed. Just like the American system of squares, here streets that run from east to west are called Calles. The other connecting streets are called Carreras which run from south to north with the numbering increasing in this direction. The numbering of the Calles increases from east to west. Just like the American system a stranger can find ones way around with little effort. When leaving town I usually check a Google Map to see which Calle or Carreras leaves town towards the Pan American highway.
After yesterdays big effort I noticed that the bottom of my right foot was a bit tender when I got up next morning so feeling it was just one of those 24 hour issues I decided to take a rest day. Many minor injuries one can run through but I always feel it is unwise to ignore pain on the bottom of the foot, having had plantar facitis 10 years ago, which is my biggest nightmare for this run, I will never forget how sore that was.
YET MORE WONDERFUL COLOMBIANS!
Last week the Irish runner Paul Mahon that ran with me asked me why I don’t just send my pack ahead on buses, checking it as cargo in the bus terminal, sending it from bus terminal to bus terminal wherever they have an office. Believe it or not I had this idea in mind having read about how Karl Bushby on his walk through South America sent his cart ahead in Chile. For some unknown reason I just thought this would be problematic and unsafe and hesitated. So after Paul’s prompting I decided to try it and sent four of my six kilos on ahead from Buga to Palmeras. So now I am finally running the way I always dreamt of doing this run, running with just a small satchel and several pockets full of things like sawn off tooth brush and inch size comb!
INSTANT FRIEND ON A HOT DAY, TWO PLEASE!
After running the 49km I had only minor problems finding the Expresso Palmeras office, it worked a treat and I arrived well ahead of their 8pm closing. So no 100km return commute!
I am going to do this more often. This I will call my PLAN D. I found it far from problematic, in fact it couldn’t have been more simple. Everything is documented. I got a receipt and signed for my pack on my arrival. They even sealed the pack with tape. I just have to find out where the offices are and be careful not to send it to a town that does not have a terminal office as I have no cell phone to be contacted at, they didn’t seem interested in taking my email address. And just a few dollars!
There is a PLAN E by the way and that is advertising for someone that would like to cycle South America covering 40-50km per day. This person would cycle on ahead of me. I would not need him on the road perhaps to drop a couple of water bottles at km markers. Each day having decided on a location. I would just require the cyclist to bring my stuff ahead. Camping would also be an option. I would be willing to reimburse their fare, giving percentages back every month so as not to attract free-loaders. This would perhaps suit a retired or unemployed person who wanted to travel to South America, or even someone that wanted to be part of the expedition. I am not really sure if this would be a ‘goer’ but will park it out there and see.
I have had 20 plus years during my planning of the run to come up with these plans. I mentioned when I sent jogging stroller Nirvana on ahead from southern Mexico last September that I had several plans, well these are those plans.
PLAN E I just want to put out there and see if there is any interest but to be honest, I may continue for a while with PLAN D and the baggage dispatch.
On the way out of Buga I checked my pack ahead to the terminal in Popayn, about three days ahead. Not bad for $4 and what a lot of commuting I will save!
In fact this run took four days as I never got into a proper stride.
On the way to Palmeras I got stopped by two cops who asked me if I wanted some cola!
As I sat on a rock drinking it I noticed that they were manning a road checkpoint and busy searching a truck. They seemed to be taking a lot of interest in a side compartment of the truck. One of the officers came over for his camera and took some photos of the contents of the compartment. There has not been as many police and military checkpoints this last couple of weeks, maybe about two a day.
Friendly cops here. I remember the SIX checkpoints in the last 100km of Darien in Panama. They held me there for between 30-40 minutes while running my background check. At two of these points they greeted me with.
‘ look it’s the famous runner…Let’s take his photo! ‘
I felt like saying…Well if I am so famous why are you holding me up and hassling me and no I don’t want my photo taken, but then decided it was best to be diplomatic and went along with it.
Back here later a woman in a convenience store gave me four 250ml bags of drinking water for nothing. The Colombian people really are a kind race. There is hardly a day when I don’t get such hospitality.
BICYCLE WITH A MACHETE ATTACHED.
Many years ago Colombia was a very dangerous country to travel in mainly due to the FARC’S feud with the government. I remember when I was in Panama 10 years ago I decided not to get the ferry over here as there were tales of buses being stopped by criminals who had contacts in banks. The passengers at gunpoint entered their banking details into the criminals laptops which resulted in bank accounts been cleaned out. Many foreigners were kidnapped and held to ransom. Many a walker or cyclist just skipped Colombia. It was never because of the people, my information is that the average Colombian citizen has always been a decent sort. Just the organised crime.
Karl Bushby dressed as a tramp on his walk through Colombia about ten years ago. Nobody pays any attention to tramps, they just walk past checkpoints. They live in their own world. I had been thinking of that for Mexico, just walking it dressed down as a tramp. I had talked to Karl about it and he told me though Mexico had a violent past and still has in certain parts that I should be ok if I made smart decisions and as he said ‘ avoid the drunken drugged-up weekend young punks. ‘
Just like the Mexican government sent in the army to sort out drug and violent crime including the kidnapping of foreigners, so too did the Colombian government. That is what all the checkpoints are for, looking for known criminals. The Colombian government advised the Mexican government about the war on drugs and crime, it seems to be working to a large extent.
On the entrance to Palmeras a signpost declared the altitude to be 1,001 meters, the population to be just under 250,000, but the signpost did look a bit dated and later I was told the population had rocketed to some 400,000 inhabitants. The signpost also gave the temperature as 23 degrees C! I wondered if this was a rival to San Diego, Ca. for that all year round pleasant temperature. Palmeras was just a dot on my map and I wondered if there was even a hotel, here I have a small city, I just never know for sure what a place is like till I arrive.
I have been having some serious trouble using my atm cards here. Many times they were rejected.
My friend Jesper who had run through Colombia said that some international banks have put a restriction on credit cards and atm cards in certain areas of Colombia due to a huge amount of international fraud here. Some of the banks ask you as a security measure to key in your Colombian cell phone number, so what’s the international traveller supposed to do? There would be no point in keying in any cell number as the cell number would be on file. Hopefully this does not take off as a security measure as so many travellers don’t travel with a cell phone while many others have problems getting service even when they take them. Surely that would also be bad for tourism?
I decided I wanted to avoid the major city of Cali and take the alternative route from Palmeras to Florida and onto Corinth and run to Candlearia.
Half way between Palmeras and Pravda a police patrol vehicle stopped me and advised me against this route as the mountainous region around Corinth is a serious FARC guerrilla stronghold.
THANKS FOR THAT GREAT ADVICE GUYS!
I was told it would be very dangerous for me to go anywhere near this area. The FARC have total control and the police are having little success there. This is guerrilla war territory and there is a lot of violence coming from the mountains.
Instead I had to alter my route and turn right in Pradera, a rough looking place, where even the birds seemed to cry.
This meant I added an extra 18km to my route and was the reason it took me four days instead of three days, as I also had to stop where the accommodation was.
On the way to CandelaiaI saw the sad sight of a massive hen battery. A line of cages with barely enough room for the poor hens to move. This line was easily 100 meters long, about three or four high and four lines wide. Perhaps hundreds of thousands of hens, all cramped together and barely able to move. The place even had guard watchtowers with spot lights.
Candelaria was in it’s 10th day of 12 days of it’s 58th annual fiesta when I ran into town. The activity was centred around the towns plaza. Hundreds of soldiers were on duty manning checkpoints and entry points around town. I guess this is because of a lot of reported violence by the FARC in the region.
Strangely I noted that about 70% of the population were black. Though there are many blacks in Colombia I have not witnessed such a large percentage in any other Colombian location.
I notice the further south I run the poorer the country seems to me. I also note that the comments I made about how clean Colombia was in the north are no longer true. There is much more thrash on the roadside. Southern Colombia also has the better roads. I am now running on a dual carriageway, sometimes divided and still have my one meter hard shoulder.
There is a huge sugar cane industry here and the sugarcane road trains as I call them often have five trailers attached. Amazingly these vehicles even run through some of the larger towns. I saw one with flat tyres at the entrance to Candelaria causing havoc.
That afternoon I got a bit of a fright when a big quiet dog came up behind me and licked the back of my right leg!
Sometimes for breakfast I stop at a panaderia, or bakery and have a bowl of coffee and a couple of pastries for a little more than a dollar, I can’t believe the value in these places and it seems that every small town in Colombia is littered with these delightful eateries!
ONE OF MY BIGGEST DECISIONS EVERY DAY!
That Sunday I ran 37km from Villa Rica to Mondomo. Of course Sunday here means that the road was littered by cycle racers, some training with their top of the range racing bicycles and even carbon-fibre disc wheels. Others even seemed to be racing, perhaps a club race.
A couple of times groups of 40 or 50 zoomed by wearing race numbers. They were bravely spread across the dual carriage way as it was not closed. The racers were followed by a support vehicle. I wonder if the Colombian love for cycling is anything to do with the success of the Cafe de Colombia cycle team that raced in the Tour de France. For many years the mountain polka dot titles were dominated by their hero ace climber Luis ‘ Luca ‘ Herrera.
An hour or so before reaching Mondomo and as I ran by an open air restaurant, two men that were drinking beer shouted after me to stop for a drink. I stopped for some water and the two ladies there filled up one of my water bottles with lemonade all for free!
I was back running in the Andes now after a few days in the lower valeys.
The two men had several beer bottles on the table and seemed to be well on. I have noticed in much of the country a huge amount of people including truck drivers and motorcyclists with their crash helmets still on, drinking beer. I am told the drink-driving law is strictly enforced, yet these people leave themselves wide open to be spotted by the many patrolling police officers.
Though there is less traffic on the roads on Sundays, I am sure much of it is drink-driving.
That night I stayed in a hotel of sorts called El Despiste for just over $7. It was really a knock shop. The old woman and her husband just laughed when I said all I wanted to do was sleep for the night. No I don’t want it for a few hours, I want to sleep.
” He want’s to sleep! ” They sniggered.
The hotel was 100 metres off the highway, down a laneway and past a couple of houses.
Used mainly by young lusty Latino couples in need of a bit of…. ’ how’s your father! ‘
The problem for these couples is that just about all of Latin America is strictly Catholic and along with crammed houses where even the grandparents live, well they have little opportunity.
In much of Central America these Auto Hotels as I have mentioned before have garages attached to the entrance to the hotel room where the couple can discreetly hide their car. There is usually a latch on the door for ordering drinks.
So after three days of poor distance that left me with 55km to Popoyn where my pack was in the bus terminal. I decided to go for it and left in the early morning rain.
The rain got progressively heavier so I decided to have an early breakfast after just four km. I came to two restaurants and gave the first a wide berth when I saw the butcher who was probably the chef and owner cutting up a couple of pigs hanging up in the doorway no less. I wondered what the European Union would have made of this back home!
I ordered beef, but no, the only thing on the menu was pork, rice and a form of Colombian potatoes. It took me ages to eat the pork as it was a huge steak. It tasted more like beef jerky to me as it was smoked and very salty. I saved half of it for my lunch sticking it in a plastic bag.
It continued to rain on and off that day and my progress was steady for I stopped very little after that long breakfast. It was another very mountainous day and the traffic was at it’s worst today.
Colombian drivers have now overtaken Guatemalans as the worst drivers on the run so far.
These guys are crazy and for such nice people as I have said before that once they get behind a wheel they just lose all control and patience. Overtaking going up a steep hill and even into a bend is the norm here. The solid yellow lines mean nothing.
THIS HAPPENS ALL DAY LONG, EVEN COMING UP TO A DANGEROUS BEND
The lash through 30km school zones overtaking at high speed even when children are present.
They overtake even when they see approaching vehicles as they know the oncoming vehicle will just move into (my) hard shoulder. There seems to be some kind of a ‘ nod and a wink ‘ kind of communication going on. Often they flash the hazard lights which means a hazard to the rest of the world but here it means, go ahead overtake me!
Many motorists don’t put on their lights till well after dark presumably thinking they are saving their battery, have they not heard of alternators? Many buses have defective lights.
Sometimes motorcyclists turn off their engines while coasting downhill, I am not sure if this disengages their brakes?
Motorcyclists and cyclists often carry incredible loads, including lumber, rebar, door frames, bags of cement and dogs in crates on the back of their motorbikes. Many motorbikes transport both parents and often two young children including babies and of course no crash helmets. Sometimes I see them riding their bikes with helmets on but not strapped up, what use is that!
I have seen four passengers on the back of a motorbike in the rain with the back three passengers covered in polythene.
So many drivers of buses and cars are plain rude. Just about every day a bus will drive up into the shoulder stopping about 3 metres in front of me to let a passenger out, instead of pulling in behind me once I have run by. Impatience seems to be the problem. Since June when I first entered Latin America I can honestly count on one hand the amount of road courtesies I have experienced, rarely have I seen someone let another motorist out of a junction.
Cars pull in to the right when they want to make a turn or into their drive way, similarly when pulling out of say a gas station as though I am not there, several times a day I have to jump clear of the lunatics! I do not believe that driver education exists.
But a new hazard which I have only seen in Southern Colombia is motorbikes using the hard shoulder as an overtaking lane in heavy traffic they overtake on the inside. Often the pull onto the shoulder and accelerate without even checking.
The dogs here have also overtaken dog notorious mountainous Turkey as having the most ferocious wild dogs.
Loose Rottweiler’s run out of houses while their owners dumbly look on in silence. Today two such Rottweiler’s, luckily for me actually collided! I had a good laugh
I eventually made it to km 0 just before dark from where I started that morning in Mondomo at km 55. Then I realized I still had another 5km to the Popoyn city center. My bag was waiting for me at the terminal, yes I like PlAN D, a lot of valuable commute time saved, time I can use for sleep and recovery
After checking my pack including my laptop onto Pasto which is about a week away.
I ran on but not much the day I ran out of Popoyn as I was up till 2am working on this blog, I was shattered that day. I ran only 20km and had an early night after a steak dinner.
The roads are bad again, sometimes I have a shoulder, other times I got to run in the gravel. Also small stones and rocks and huge boulders tumbling off the mountains are a problem for Colombia. They have become unsettled because of heavy rains and mudslides this year. The amount of rock fall is alarming, so much so that huge construction projects are underway to build heavily fortified walls along the highway to keep them at bay. I am not sure if this is why the road itself is in such bad condition due to giant sized boulders falling on the road.
The food here is the best on the whole run, and great value too. For example for about 2-3 dollars one can have a bowl of vegetable or usually chicken soup, followed by a choice of beef, pork or fish with rice, sometimes French fries, rice, beans or other veg, banana plantas, sometimes some bread and a glass of lemonade to wash it all down with!
CHEAPER THAN A CUP OF COFFEE BACK IN IRELAND!
Then the next day I got a decent 41km even after my usual slow start, well there were hills to be climbed!
Hills, you mean mountains… Today I took a look to my left and said, yes these are the Andes, I finally feel I am running in the Andes, so long my dream. In the afternoon it was mostly downhill which saved my day.
THE ANDES AT LAST!
The mornings and evenings are a lot cooler now. The hotels usually just provide a bare oversheet on the bed, but sometimes not. Now I have been starting to get the odd though thin blanket. Either way I am fairly comfortable now.
A hotel I stayed in last week had a blanket on the bed for ‘ viewing purposes only! ‘ When I said I would take the room she took the blanket off.
I am still trying to work this one out… Surely you should get what you view?
Mind you here in Colombia most of the budget hotels, hospedajes etc all are of a decent standard and mostly cost between 6-8 US dollars a night. They are usually painted nicely, clean, tiled etc and at long last the smell of cleaning agents.
I feel I need to stay in them as much as possible for security reasons and also I need to get proper rest and on a soft bed for my recoveries.
I remember when I was in Central America and even though some of the squalor places were a couple of bucks a night that the owners were just pure lazy. I particularly remember the place I stayed in just outside Managua, Nicaragua. The owner was more interested in the Barcelona soccer match on television and ‘ mopped out ‘ my room between goal kicks!
He rushed in and gave the floor a belt of a mop and left a cigarette butt, used matches on the floor and pasta in the sink drain!
Here in Colombia there is a decent standard, many nicely furnished and as I have said, some rooms are of the quality one would pay $40 a night for in the US mid west, one even had a cd player. They almost always have a television with Fox Sports, Espn and all the major networks, but I still prefer my music and only use the fan to dry my clothes. I hang them on the fan, usually with safety pins. I actually find fans and ac to be too cold, no matter how warm the room is without it on.
On the way today I stopped for a delicious freshly squeezed lemonade, she squeezed six large lemons and all for only 50 cents!
I also met a Spanish man called Mateo from Valencia. Every year he comes over to South America and walks for a few months. This year from Peru to Venezuela. Last year Brazil. He walks with his dog. I always thought it was difficult bring your dog away but he said no it’s easy once he has his vaccine certificate.
MATEO AND HIS DOG
I don’t know how he manages on the road with his dog and all these wild mongrels!
Then later I met Daniel a Colombian motorbiker from Bogota who was on his way to Tierra del Fuego, 11,000km away. When he went to take my picture he discovered his camera had a flat battery, and him only after leaving home a day or two ago, I couldn’t help wondering about his chances!
Then another really good day from where I finished yesterday at km 61 I ran all the way to km 0. I stopped at a nice place for the night called Hostel Carolina which also had a nice restaurant. It seems that one half of the hostel is used as a police station.
As always the road was very busy. I think I have seen more trucks and buses here in five weeks than all of my five months in the USA.
The scary part about running on the road is the vehicles that silently overtake another, they just whisk past me. I have trained myself not to move to the right even slightly without first looking back. As I have mentioned many times I run on the left and towards oncoming traffic. I have also have to brainwash myself to be extra careful when coming up to the dozens of small bridges I run over every day as often the surface is uneven and bumpy due to poor workmanship. It would be easy to trip and fall as I have stumbled many times.
Sometimes I do not see slight blemishes on the road if I am wearing sunglasses and am tired. My feet are obviously very tired these days, so I don’t lift them as high as I should.
Then next day it was back to 37km which I seem to have run a few times lately. I stopped to ask some cops, four of them manning a speed check where the next town was. They gave me some cola and told me it was in a place called Remolino, they didn’t see the joke when I asked if it was named after a Brazilian footballer!
I stopped at a roadside house which sold drinks. The nice lady there called Rosa was cracking monkey nuts, as we call them in Ireland. How labour intensive as first they have to be brought in from the field. They have a three month turnaround. Then she spends an hour cracking a kilo of nuts that sells for 5,000 pesos (2,000 to the US dollar)
In her house she had some young guinea pigs which she says are for eating.
I also saw my first cactus since Central America. I don’t remember many after Mexico, but can’t be sure. It seems that things like this just suddenly vanish and one day you say… ” Where are all the sugar can road trains gone? ” I haven’t seen them in almost a week and didn’t even realise it.
Then I stopped again and this time three women were peeling the nuts out of a wheel barrow.
ROLL OUT THE BARROW!
Back in Ireland and in our family the joke was would the Halloween monkey nuts be gone before Christmas!
I remember many a year when I returned from Colorado for my Christmas break (well sometimes a couple months!) finishing off the nuts on Christmas morning.
From Remolino at km 88 I ran to Bascula at km 37 for 51 km today, A nice hard day today including a 24km hill start to wake me up at the start. I stopped half way up to have a chat with some construction workers, about ten of them building a house. There is a lot of house building going on here, a boom of sorts as far as I can see. They filled up my water bottles as I was drinking copiously that hot morning. I was all set to run by another house near the top of the climb till the lady called Marina called me over to her house/shop. She opened he refrigerator and gave me a nice cold bottle of soda.
MORE GREAT PEOPLE! THANK YOU MARINA
As I said this seems to happen every day here, the hospitality is almost Islamic, such is the reverence of the traveler for I remember when cycling through Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan how the people would rush out of their houses or run down from the mountains and even pay my meal bill in restaurants and silently leave for their hospitality was genuine I ran through two tunnels today without incident, though they were lit and had pedestrian paths it was safer to run on the road as it was quiet and besides you can clearly hear a vehicle driving through a tunnel. They were only about 200 metres long.
All the way up the steep climb today, the truckers that once blasted me off the road were giving me unmistakingly friendly hoots. Their hands waved out their windows and they gave me the thumbs ups sign on more than one occasion.
Then just before I finished I met an English cyclist called Judi Zebedee.
Judi has been cycling around the world for almost two years now. She spent 8 months in China and tells me about the 6km tunnels there and having two police escorts through them.
She has a website strangely named getjealous.com/judezebedee
Judi tells me that at first she got a three month visa and then had to leave the country and return twice for the other five months. She is heading south now towards Argentina and cycles 120km per day. I was so interested in this conversation and as it was so late in the day that she wanted to get to the next village before dark that I cleanly forgot to take Judi’s photo. She cycled on and I just stayed in the Oro Negro hotel beside a gas station some 500 metres away. I don’t know if she missed this, if she did it was a pity but I suspect she wanted to get to an internet cafe in the next village.
So only 37km to Pasto, and I thought I was going to have a handy day!
Not at all! More uphill, almost 26km and tight curves,windy roads and a shoulder the width of a saucer! I had to run in an angle rain water drain for most of the day with open manholes along this drain every 100 metres.
It was mostly cool, so cool that I didn’t even bother putting on sun block.
A dog followed me for about 4km till I stopped to shelter from some ice cold rain near the top of the pass. Dogs have a nerve, the give me hell on the road and then come begging at just about every restaurant I eat at!
At the top with 11km to go I came to a restaurant called Pueblito Viejo. It seemed to be a posh place, well to the budget traveller used to squalor, posh can mean they accept credit cards, it was that nice and clean.
I just asked for a coffee and asked for it to be very hot as I have cold hands. Then I asked for it in a big bowl.
All four of the staff stared at me from behind the counter as I sipped from the bowl, French style. I am sure the swanky Sunday lunch diners thought I had no table manners and was drinking soup!
I knew from the staff they were having the ‘ where is his bicycle ‘ conversation, especially as one went over to to bouncer on the door to ask.
Time for the wow! factor. I poured salt into my water bottles, eyes blink! I had one of my business cards ready and went over to pay for the bowl of coffee.
” No Senor, es gratis! ”
No need to pay thanks for heated up my hands and I was off down the mountain, almost all downhill till Pasto.
I am going to have some cold times ahead, and it may not be in too far away either with serious altitude on the way… And then there is Bolivia with the altiplano or the high plains of over 4,000 metres and it will be almost winter then! Yes fun times ahead, but where there is a will there will be a way.
I made my way to the centro and call the two phone numbers I have for my contact here, Alex and his wife Lubia. Actually I spent half an hour and only found one broken phone. The downtown was throbbing as a football game between Narino and Cali had just ended and the crowds were swarming the streets. I asked several people would the phone and nobody would oblige till one lady did. She told me the two numbers were out of order!
Luckily I had Alex’s address and ended my day at the Pan American junction, so I hopped in a taxi and arrived at his house. Actually it was his moms house as he thought it best for me to send my packages there, remember Plan C.
Alex and Lubia were not there but Alex’s mom Mercedes soon became my Colombian mom.
Sit down there son, do you like coffee and sweet bread and soup and beef steak and rice and French fries! And I met his dad Hermes and sister Yaneth and her hubby Alexander and Carlos Julio and Maria and all fussing and we had a great chat.
MY COLOMBIAN FAMILY
Then Alex arrived and brought me over to his house. I met his wife, Lubia a free-lance Russian journalist who speaks Spanish like a local, at least that’s what the taxi driver said on the way back from the bus station where i picked up my pack.
Yes sending the bag on (this time from Popoyn a week ago has saved me a huge amount of time.
So now it’s time to change my shoes out for Ecuador and a few other minor kit alterations. I swapped my bivy for my summer sleeping bag with pocket size tarp. My Ecuador contact tells me it is no more than 10-15km between water points, so with early starts I intend to have a roof over my head every night
I forgot to mention that last week I bought a high-viz vest which has five pockets, I love pockets, helps spread the weight around and off my back, even if I sometimes feel like a Michellin man!
Did I just make it to Pasto, what was that about running around their stronghold, was that an exaggeration? I don’t know, but if I was a French diplomat I would not have travelled through either had I a diplomatic passport.
I guess just like many other things, this I may never know.