After the difficult but adventurous last few days we were pleased to arrive in Popayan. We arrived on a Saturday afternoon and as we had a few jobs to do including having the petrol tank guard welded we knew we would be here through Monday. We had parked up in a car park next to the bus station. Not the most glamorous place but it was close to the town centre, secure and relatively quiet. Popayan is known as the White City on account that most of the buildings in the historic centre are painted white. We passed our time there gently wandering around the city, enjoying the main plaza and eating in some nice restaurants. Whilst it was a pleasant enough town it was difficult to stretch the sights out for two full days.
The Sunday that we were there was Mother's Day in Colombia, so like the rest of the city we took our "mother" out for lunch. At the restaurant Gilly was presented with a rose to mark the occasion.
When it came time to leave Popayan we were lucky in that we had glorious sunshine. This made a change from the rainy days we had been having. We drove along the Pan American highway to just north of the town of Pasto. And oh what a drive. It was absolutely gorgeous with high mountIns and deep valleys all bathed in beautiful sunlight. Yes there was still loads of trucks as well as many roadworks but with the scenery this good it didn't matter if the drive was taking so long.
We stopped just north of Pasto at Parque Nacional Chimayoy. This was a tiny little park but it had a good parking area right next to a large playground which was great for the girls.
The next day we headed for the border. The rain had returned so although the drive continued to be very scenic it was not the same as the previous day. Just before the border we went to visit a church at Las Lajas. The church has been built right against the rock face in a gorge at a spot where someone supposedly saw an image of the Virgin Mary. Along the walk to the church there are a multitude of plaques of people giving their thanks to the Virgin Mary.
From here it was a short drive to where we were staying for the night. We found a spot in a hotel car park that was just 500m from the border. However they charged us a ridiculous price to just park there but at least we would be able to hit the Ecuadorian border first thing in the morning.