06.10.2009 - 11.10.2009
Pasto was a refreshing cool relief from the sweltering sticky heat of Cali where we had to finally wear our jackets we had been lugging around. The Pastuso architecture is what really shines in this city along with being easily walkable. A large plaza flanked by shops, cafe´s, and cathedrals is the central point of Pasto with volcano peaks in the distance.
Our stay was quick as we were easily persuaded to go hike a nearby volcano near Tucquerres, a short one hour collectivo away. Our guide book has no mention of this volcano and to our delight we had the whole town of Tucquerres to ourselves, not one other western tourist in sight! We found a simple hotel near the center and woke up early for our walk up the volcano. Our attempts to be early birds failed miserably as the only minibus that takes you near the volcano didn´t come by until noon. Interestingly we passed by the small village of San Roque (the name of Father´s village in Mexico) and I had to smile at the similarities complete with chickens and a few donkeys. The bus dropped us off about 5 kms from the crater and said it should take us one hour to go up it and one hour down so we would have plenty of time to catch the last bus at 4pm to town. No problem- right?
So we started walking, forgetting that we are hiking up a volcano to an elevation of 4150m without being properly acclimitized. It took us over 2.5 hours to reach the crater and we were winded with every 15 steps we took. When we finally reached the lake at the crater we only had a few minutes to enjoy it as we literally had to run down the volcano to catch our bus. This didn´t stop us from being mesmerized by the stunningly beautiful green waters inside the crater and the almost california beach like vegetation surrounding the crater. It was a beautiful hike but only truly appreciated and realized afterwards for the hike up was an exhausting and the hike down worrisome as we were pressed for time. We ran down the volcano and made it to the bus stop 5 minutes before 4. Hurray. We ate well that night on roasted pig to appease our tired bodies, drifting off to an early sleep that night. The next morning we left for Ipiales, catching a collective taxi from the main square and surprised by how quickly we made it to the border town. By 1pm we were checked into our hostel and on our way to see the cathedral at Las Lajas.