You will be relieved at at the absence of a lot of narrative in this post. The incredible scenery between Popáyan and Pasto spoke for itself. That, and the comfort and lack of many passengers on the bus made for a delightful trip. A few words on random details of travel first.
- In Colombia, there is a huge military presence everywhere you go. They're all along the highways packing semi automatic rifles and peering out from behind sandbagged posts. Each motorist that passes gets either a thumbs up or a summons to pull over. In most cases it's thumbs up and I don't want to know the consequences of the alternative.
- Every so often along the highway there will suddenly be a cluster of flower vendors selling elaborate arrangements. I discovered that that is an indication you're passing a cometary.
- There are a couple of phrases one hears everywhere in Colombia many times every day. One is, "a la orden" which means "at your service" in a formal spence and "what do you want, what can I get you?" more loosely translated. In a sales context, it can be a come on vendors use as soon as you approach, "c'mon, c'mon, buy, buy" or, in a more courteous sense, "how can I help you?" To end any transaction, the phrase is, "con mucho gusto", more or less, "you're welcome". To me it has the connotation of enthusiasm and it amuses me to hear it delivered in a mumbled monotone by surly clerks.
- Latin American street type vendors, and probably ones in other places, have ritual chants for promoting their wares. Every time the bus stops, a gaggle of them gets on to hawk some sort of food, usually potato chips or ice cream, that sort of thing. Here's what they sound like:
Back to the journey. This part of the highway passes through some of the most beautiful Andean landscape I've seen in Colombia.