Zona Cafeteria, in the western central area of Columbia

Update on motels! This sign is more specific than the Rio Secreto motel we saw in Chile- we would have understood this one with no trouble! Also, there are many more motels in Columbia than anywhere else we’ve seen in South America! A Columbian we met in Ecuador enlightened us by telling us that ALL motels in South America are by the hour! They are not just for customers having affairs in a predominantly Catholic continent where divorce is less common than in many western countries but also for young people, who usually live with their parents until they marry!

Mechanic working from the bonnet/hood of a vehicle right beside the road.

Old truck and old cannisters.

Motorcyclists weave in and out of traffic and also lane split, driving up the middle of 2 lanes of traffic between the trucks and cars. Pretty scary!

Back end of sugarcane cart

and front end!

There are lots of signs like this one warning people of high accident zones where there’s no overtaking. Do people pay attention? No – we’ve been going around a corner with not one car overtaking us but two abreast at the same time, crossing a double-yellow line to boot!

Coffee fields in the Zona Cafeteria.

People mostly drink the equivalent of Nescafe in Columbia as real coffee is for export; cafes with expresso coffee are still non existent outside touristy places.

Hillsides with coffee and sugarcane growing abound.

Yup, even for animals the grass is always greener…..!

These buses are still used in rurals areas as they are spacious and allow for quick and easy loading and unloading of people and baggage. In some cities they are only used as party buses!

Another form of rural transport

and another with people and baggage hanging off the sides and rear.

Another colourful and funky rural bus

and in this one, passengers get off from the open sides,

which speeds things up at bus stops.

Cow drinking from a hose pipe.

More lovely views of coffee farms,

and here a tropical plant with humungous leaves

and a beautiful huge fern!


Popayan and More

Mmm, there are delicious cakes and pastries here in Columbia!

Here’s the main square of Popayan, population 266,000.

The town was founded in 1537 and was a religious, political and cultural centre as well aswell as a key stopping point between Cartagena and Quito for the Spanish, who were plundering much of the gold of South America.

A couple of plaques

about some of the buildings.

All the buildings are white-washed and are excellent examples of Spanish colonial architecture.

With all the buildings in the same style and of the same height along with the cobbled streets, there is a homogeneity that I just love!

Another factor that adds to the charm is that the main square is cut off from traffic

so it’s peaceful and there’s no need to jaywalk.

This is the Puente del Humidilladero, built in about the 1870’s

with cobblestones.

Next to the bridge in the former photo is the Puente de la Custodia, built in 1713. It was constructed so the priests could visit the sick in the poor district to the north.

Ken standing on the newer bridge looking down on the older bridge.

Walking to the natural thermales at the bottom of this field to the right.

There are lovely bright flowers in Columbia such as these vibrant ones

and these.

Another rockslide!

Start of Columbia

The countryside looks similar to Ecuador, but as Ken points out, the fields have hedges. No wonder it looks familiar- just like England!

This is the Santuario de las Lajas ouside Ipiales, just 15 km from the Ecuador- Columbia border. It spans a wide gorge.

This church was built in the early 1900’s;

however, the site has been visited by pilgrims since the late 1700’s, and there were earlier structures on the site before this Neo-Gothic church was built. The pilgrims first came after a young deaf-mute girl was here in the gorge with her mother during a thunderstorm. It is said that the girl called out to her mother, “The Mestiza is calling me,” and the image of Mary was illuminated on the rock where they were sheltering from the rain.

A dog inside the church (don’t you love South America!)

Here’s the altar ..

with the rock face where the daughter saw the image of Mary.

A close up of the bridge across the gorge, and

the surrounding


Stopping at a roadside stand, Ken introduces me to this green Amazon parrot, whose sharp claws are digging in to my shoulder as he screetches into my ear.

Ken’s family had one of these as a pet, so he’s more at ease!

More lush and

green countryside.


Saturday market in Otavalo, Ecuador

Otavalo is famous for

it’s Saturday market, which takes up a huge square and spills out into the side streets.

Traditionally dressed

indigenous people

sell many colourful fruits and vegetables

as well as arts and crafts.

It’s raining, and there

aren’t very many tourists at this time of year though in summer there are apparently hordes of visitors.

The colours of

people’s clothing,

their goods

and handicrafts are a feast for the eye.

We buy a handpainted tray, but otherwise enjoy

people watching before heading on to our next destination!

Galapagos Islands Part 4

Here’s a Galapagos pelican. All the following photos are all from Ken’s Nikon or Sony cameras – sure beats an iPhone!

The colours are much brighter for starters.

and the focus is sharper. This is a swallow tailed seagull.

Blue footed booby

and another booby here with the nest and chicks.

Swallow tailed gull bringing home some material for a nest.

Two male frigate birds courting a female.

Here’s the booby dance again,

and a colourful land iguana. These guys are about 30″ long.

On the other hand, this is a marine iguana, about the same size as a land iguana but it can swim;
look how they blend in with the black rocks especially in the background of this photo!

Oooh, a baby seal lion (sea lions have external ears btw; seals, who live in colder water, have internal ears).

Am I cute or what?!

Galapagos Islands Part 3

Male frigate bird with distended red gular sac to attract a mate

versus another male without the sac distended sitting in its nest.

Blue-footied boobies picking up one foot after the other in a kind of dance. The name apparently comes from sailors being able to just pick these birds up without them trying to escape – booby as in booby trap (with booby meaning stupid .. in case you had other ideas!)

Evening flight
More blue footed boobies.

We didn’t get to see the birds below but they are red footed boobies.

Galapagos Islands Part 2

Flightless cormorants

Our captain (see Tshirt)

Our cook, Victor, who is an inspiration. He is always happy and content. And he has a great voice for opera!

Here’s a marine iguana for you. They let salt from saltwater dry on their heads and body to reflect the sun to regulate their body temperature. Not too interested in us ..

whereas this sea lion is happy to be the centre of attention!


Great views

and more marine iguanas blending in with the rocks.

Right out of the dinosaur age.

The fin of a mola mola (sun fish),not a shark!

A green sea turtle

Galapagos penguins

One sea lion having a snooze

while another is ready to pose for the camera.

Some vegetation

and more


Yup, we’re having fun.

Galapagos Islands Part 1

Flying from Quito to Guayaquil on our way to the Galapagos Islands, we see this volcano.

Coke label – long red line for sugar content!

Our first giant land tortoises (about 4 feet long and 3 feet wide!)

They are huge!

and this one looks like it needs a good mouthwash.

They have big markings until they grow old when their shells become smooth.

We take a 5 day cruise on “Lonesome George” (Solitario Jorge is the real name of a turtle which was the last of its species and had no mate).

You won’t believe it, but there’s another passenger, Anne, with a sling on her right arm! She has a hairline crack on her elbow and wrist from a fall a few days before the cruise 🙁

Frigates dive bombing for fish, which they catch on their way out of the water!

Sunsets are striking,

as you can see,

and a pelican comes for a ride on our inflatable zodiac behind the boat late at night.

These are turtle tracks down to the water,

and these are iguana tracks in the sand.

Three-in-one-photo: flightless cormorant, 2 marine iguanas, and a Galapagos crab.

Ken’s close up of a Galapagos crab.

and another two – such beautiful colours.

Getting more adept at taking photos one-handed.

Quito, Capital of Ecuador

First we stop at the huge statue of La Virgen de Quito, who soars over the city from the hill El Panecillo (meaning Little Bread Loaf).
According to the people of Quito, she is the only Madonna in the world with wings.

Quito has a population of 1.7 million, and the total population of Ecuador is 16 million; the size of the country is 283,560 sq km.

The Old Town, a Unesco Heritage Site, boasts many 17th century buildings, plazas and beautiful chuches that according to Lonely Planet “blend Spanish, Moorish and indigenous elements”.

The town has a charm and vibe

that make us instantly fall in love with it!

The Sunday crowds, with street artists, music and dancing!

This church, built between 1605-1765, is called Compania de Jesus and has a magnificently carved golden interior.

Here’s the front door.

Another church

and the Governor’s Palace.

Here’s the courtyard of the Monasterio de San Francisco. Love the symmetry and resulting tranquility!

Over lunch, we admire the simple dietry information on these ketchup and mayonnaise packets – the longer the red line, the more fat, salt or sugar is in the ingredients, and there are three levels: low, medium and high. So clear and quick to see!

Another ornate door.

Baroque green and gold dome

and a former hospital, now a museum.

Interesting plaque in the courtyard of the former hospital!

Convent opposite the former hospital.

One of the squares. Unfortunately, we only have an afternoon to enjoy the historical old town. We definitely want to come back someday and do more exploring.

No More Satellite Tracking 😢

Sadly our inReach fell overboard on April 12th in the middle of the Pacific Ocean near one of the Galapagos Islands. We heard something fall and thought it was on the cabin floor but alas, the next morning we discovered the inReach had fallen out of our cabin window and hit the boat deck before going for a swim to the bottom of the ocean! May it rest in peace!

So sadly no more satellite tracking on this trip 🙁