Saturday, 10 May 2014

Las Lajas Sanctuary - finally!

So we managed to escape from San Agustin - with a little help from Humberto our hostel owner - and no help at all from the police, despite the original helicopter mention :(

We got a jeep out on the back road which was unpaved and only passable with 4WD. We didn't see any blockades but it was a mightly uncomfortable ride with 7 of us squashed in the jeep with Humberto and the driver. It also cost a fortune - about 5 times the cost of the bus into San Agustin.

Humberto & our driver packing the jeep up at 6.30am

When we arrived in Popayan the group split up - I had to go back to Park Life hostel for the third time to collect my big bag they were keeping for me - and the others were heading to Cali. So it was goodbye to Regina, 'the negotiator', Lucy, 'waiting for her career in musicals', Jack 'the lad' and Tarryn 'where's my chopper!'.

After treating myself to a Mexican dinner with Ross from the hostel I headed out early the following day to Ipiales. I was determined to visit the sanctuary Las Lajas this time past!

Whilst my direct bus from Popayan to Ipiales ended at Pasto, the driver was very taken with me and made sure I made it onto another bus to Ipiales straight away. There are some advantages to being blonde!

I stayed at a basic hostel in Ipiales and got up early to head to Las Lajas the next morning. I left my big bag at the left luggage at the bus station and waited for a collectivo to fill up so it was only 2,000 COP each way to the sanctuary.

Las Lajas is built over a gorge and the church has had many miracles attributed to it - although only one has been officially recognised - so it attracts lots of pilgrims. It was relatively quiet at 9am on a Monday morning though. Here are the photos:

And to prove I was actually there!

After that it was back to the bus station to pick up my bag and then to the frontera to get back into Ecuador.

A quick and painless process!

Another non direct bus to Quito and I eventually made it to the Secret Garden hostel to plan my last travelling week in Ecuador before I start volunteering with UBECI in Quito.

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