|Well, another border crossing, but this time with no problems. We had a short trip from Otavalo to Tulcan. A cab to the border, a couple stamps, and we were in Colombia. Ipiales to be exact. We got a cab to a bank machine to get some Colombian pesos (about 1900 pesos per dollar, that takes a while to get used to). It feels a bit weird taking out hundreds of thousands of something, the smallest bill is 1000 pesos. Then another fairly short ride to our first stop in Colombia, called Pasto.
Pasto is a smallish city in the rolling Andean hills surrounded by neat farms and trees. The city itself has a nice square with narrow streets and older buildings (like many South American cities). We stayed at the Koala Hostel which is in an old building with creaky wooden floors. They would make breakfast for you, and we had their amazing pancakes covered with bananas, apples, pears, pineapple (by the way, I've learned to like pineapple, I know it's crazy). The people in Colombia are the nicest we've met so far. They really go out of their way to make sure you feel welcome and help you get around. It's definitely a nice change from having to be wary of most people. Not to give the wrong impression, but in Ecuador and Peru, you feel a bit like a walking dollar bill. Unfortunately, the people from Pasto have a reputation a bit like the Newfoundlanders in Canada. They (Pasteños) are the butt of many jokes apparently, as they live near a volcano and have endured many natural disasters over the years.
Pasto didn't have a lot to do, so the next day we took a bus out to a lake nearby. It was called Laguna de la Cocha and is the biggest lake in Colombia. We rented a small boat and were driven out to an island which is a nature preserve and had a trail to a lookout. It was nice, the town at the lake reminded me of lake towns in Alberta with lots of wooden cottages and small restaurants. We got back to Pasto and prepared to move on the next day (after another pancake of course).