As Mark mentioned in his previous post, whilst still in Ecuador, we bought a plane ticket for the wrong day while planning our initial days in Colombia. In a perfect world where all places visited are equal, this little snafu shouldn’t have mattered. After all, ten days filling time do not a life-altering course of events usually make. But truth be told, this little slip of the “Enter” button caused a weird chain of events that delivered one bummer to us after another. Behold! The story:
After said ticket was purchased in Ibarra, rather than sulk, we decided to make the best of it and choose a few places to visit in northern Ecuador in order to fill our 10-day time span. After our night in La Esperanza, we headed two hours further toward the coast to Bosque de la Paz, or, as referred to in the guidebooks, the Bospas Fruit Farm.
I mention guidebooks because the supposedly illustrious Bospas Fruit Farm is given a glorious reviewing in pretty much any guidebook a wayward traveler might be apt to browse. This “island of environmental stewardship” is described as a place to relax and eat delicious homemade vegetarian fare while hiking, learning about the family’s abundant acreage of exotic fruit, and possibly getting a chance to join the “hospitable” owners in their daily chores. The farm also boasts a fairly impressive website with all sorts of enticing information: http://www.bospas.org. Needless to say, Mark and I were really looking forward to a two-night stay on a cozy farm where we could learn about the permaculture practices in the area and the owners’ efforts to create a bountiful paradise where various types of fruit could coexist and flourish.
Unfortunately, when we arrived, the reception we received was indifferent from the outset, verging on frigid. The only time we actually exchanged words with Olda (one of the owners) was when she let us in the “lodge” and proceeded to make up our room and furnish the bathroom. Piet Sabbe (Olda’s husband) was no better. His family (at least we think that’s who they were as no one really introduced themselves nor acknowledged our presence) shuffled past us as though they had the area to themselves and he could barely look us in the eye when speaking to us. We explained that we were interested in his farm and the planning behind his planting and harvesting, but no sooner had he heard about our interests than he sharply turned on his heels and left the room, never to return. So much for learning about fruit. Our time on the farm grew to be so uncomfortable (especially after having to sheepishly beg for a basic meal, as the nearby town of El Limonal had no restaurant to speak of and no general market to shop for food), that I even made up some ridiculous lie about “receiving news” (mind you, in a very rural area without cell reception) and needing to depart on a bus back to Ibarra that night. Sigh.
In the end, we ended up hiding in our room until morning (um. literally.), then scratching the rest of our plans of further northern Ecuador exploration in favor of leaving on the earliest bus (and standing virtually the entire way, shmooshed up against smelly armpits and large butts) straight on to the border between Ecuador and Colombia. But leaving a bad situation doesn’t always beget immediate and miraculous recovery. In fact, the scene at the border was so horrendous, it was almost laughable. A three-hour line just to get an exit stamp from Ecuador and another hour to immigrate into Colombia left us feeling listless and forlorn. FIVE days in the Colombian border town of Ipiales, waiting for our Monday flight to Cali seemed to our dirty, exhausted souls, at this point, simply out of the question. What were we to do?
The upshot of being in Ipiales for two nights instead of five did have its payoffs. We discovered that the rumored dirty, scuzzy border town turned out to be not so bad after all. Fresh vegetables at a local market led to a delicious (although partially boiled) “salad” for dinner our second night. A trip to El Santuario de las Lajasseen (or Las Lajas Cathedral) in the photo below was truly a welcome and enjoyable surprise. And although we spent a lot of time running around town basically accomplishing nothing, we did find everyone we met to be perfectly accommodating, open, and friendly. As for the plane ticket, we’re hoping for a refund.
Tomorrow, we embark on another 10-hour bus ride to Cali and, eventually, Salento. I, for one, am very much looking forward to the upswing of this little nefarious wayward period . . . also to staying in one place for more than a few days. Despite the slip-ups of the last few days, we have a sneaky suspicion that Colombia is going to be a fascinating country to muck around in.
And lest this post sound too much like I’m whining (gasp!), let’s just say, I thought I’d give you a little taste of the other side of the coin. grin. In reality, we’re still traveling, so all is still right in the world! Can never be too thankful, eh?
What can I say????? In time…perhaps not a lot of time…this event will be part of the color of your adventure.
I ditto Pat!
You’d think your hosts would be a little more friendly?! How awful. Glad to hear you’re out of there. Miss you!!! Lins
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