So getting to Tierradentro is no easy feat. I had to first get a minibus to La Plata and then get a pick-up truck to the town of San Andes de Pisimbala. Shortly after leaving La Plata the road was essentially a dirt track so it was bumpy to say the least but there were two lovely teenagers in the back that I befriended and so we were chatting the whole way so it was fun. However I wish I had a picture of me for the last 15 mins when there was just me and the teenage girl left in the back, as I was left to hold down the box of floor tiles some guy sitting inside the truck was transporting up the mountain. They were banging between the metal seats so I was trying to hold them in place with one foot whilst hanging on from the roof- a sight to say the least.
There are a couple of little casas clustered around the museums that rent rooms so I just picked one but I don't know if they hadn't had many guests recently and were out of practice or something but honestly they weren't the friendliest of bunches , but oh well.
Next day I went off to explore the tombs the town is famous for. There are about 100 underground tombs scattered around the 5 sites. Now I'm no archaeology buff so to be honest I wasn't that impressed and was a bit tombed out after the second site but its worth doing the whole route just for the scenery- it's gorgeous and a really nice and gentle hike. There really isn't anything else to keep you in the town apart from hiking around so I was thinking of heading off on the last bus out of town that day but decided to just chill and enjoy the scenery a bit more.
I instead opted for the early morning bus although there was no agreement on what time this actually left, I was told 7am, 8am and 8.30 so I got a moto-taxi to take me to the crossroads just before 7am. Of course it didn't show up till after 8 but it was fine I'd met a Danish guy who was also waiting for the bus so we chilled with all the locals as there was a hive of activity around the crossroads with pick -up trucks coming and going up and down the mountain.
We stopped off in Inza the main town in the mountains and as usual people got on and off selling their wares. But one man in his 50's selling yoghurts really took me by surprise. He made a beeline for us and started chatting in pretty good English and knew loads about Ireland, Guinness and a range of Irish and Scottish whiskeys of which he was a bug fan while smoking his Cuban cigars- and this guy sells yoghurts for a living! He was asking what I worked in and he told me in tourism here I could make big money about $10/ hour. I was considering asking him to be my agent for that money here, but settled for yoghurt and we were on our way to Popayan.
Popayan is a cute little town, known as 'the white city' due to its grand white colonial buildings. There isn't a huge amount to actually visit but its pretty for wandering around. I went up El Morro de Tulcan which has pretty views of the city at sunset and some nice little markets with a cute bar along the way.
There is also a fantastic little restaurant called Mora Castilla, which is essentially the front room in the home of a lovely man who loves to chat. They do all the local specialities there including empanadas and tamales de pipian (friends pastry and starchy snack served with peanut sauce- gorgeous ) champus (like a thick fruit punch) and salpicon (fruit slushy with big pieces of fruit.) But as I was there over a weekend I of course had to check out the nightlife which included La Iguana a salsa bar. The owner clearly LOVES his music and has a massive collection of LPs (really) of Cuban music which gets the place going. We then ventured on to La Corona a club with both salsa music and techno- luckily in very separate floors. But it surprisingly works very well. I had been toying with going to the nearby thermal springs but no one was really singing their praises so I got moving to Cali.