(May 10 – written by Nancy)
I woke up several times last night to the rain coming down on the metal roof covering the walkway outside our room. Hmmm, not a good thing to hear but thankfully when we got up this morning the rain had stopped and there were only broken clouds in the sky. Strangely enough, my phone, which we use for our alarm, had switched time zones sometime during the night and was now an hour ahead. For some reason the alarm didn’t go off but I guess we are so used to waking up early that by 5:45am I was checking my watch to see what time it was as it seemed late.
We had a short day today but we knew most of it would be climbing so we set off around 7am into the sunshine. The temperature was relatively cool (about 15C), but we started climbing right away so there wasn’t really any time to get cold. We actually climbed higher today than we did yesterday but the terrain seemed quite different. We climbed through narrow canyons so didn’t have the big vistas that we had yesterday. It was still a pretty climb though, especially with the sun shining and all the green foliage (from all that rain!).
We climbed for the first 20k or so, hitting our highest point at 2840mtrs (9317ft). It was a slow climb, but the gradients were such that we were happy not to have to be in lowest gear. We hit the top of the climb and then had about a 7k downhill into the city of Pasto. It was a bit strange to come down around a corner and see the city sprawled out before us, with many tall buildings – we haven’t seen a city of any size for several days.
We passed a bike shop on the way into the central part of town so stopped to see if Dave could find some new gloves. When we went into the shop the two guys working were intently watching today’s stage of the Giro live – it was the last 5k or so and a Colombian was in the lead. I think we could have walked out with all kinds of things and they wouldn’t have turned their heads, they were so caught up in the race. Well, I could have walked out with them – Dave was quickly engrossed in watching the race as well. Needless to say, we hung out in the shop to see the finish – thankfully the Colombian took the stage – smiles all around.
We ended up in central Pasto by 10:30, which was too early to check into our hotel so we ended up having a second breakfast in a neat old renovated building. While we ate in their covered courtyard we heard the rain hit the rooftop – phew, lucked out again!
We finally checked into our fancy hotel (the Hotel Plaza Carnaval) about 12:30. As I went up the two flights of stairs to get to the reception my arms were starting to hurt already anticipating carrying our bags up. While I got us checked in the manager, Sebastian, came over to talk to me about the bikes. He fully understood our reluctance to leave them down in the parking lot and arranged for us to have a larger room where we could store the bikes. Sebastian spent some time living on the Gold Coast in Australia and his English was great, which made it easy to explain everything.
While I was talking to Sebastian someone sent down 4 of the housekeeping staff to help bring our bags up. Those poor little girls came up one by one carrying our heavy bags, one with the tire looped around her shoulders. Lots of grunting and panting going on, but amazingly neither I nor Dave had to carry even one bag up. One of the workers stayed down with one bike while Dave brought the other one up, and then he went to get the other bike. In no time we had all of our stuff in our very nice room. Sebastian even took us up to the roof level where they are putting in a restaurant so we could check out the view. This hotel is almost brand new – I think it only opened in December – so everything is nice and clean and in working condition! The staff is super friendly and accommodating – we even got a load of laundry done already this afternoon.
We went out and wandered around town for a bit this afternoon, got a coffee and snack and then headed to another restaurant (recommended by Sebastian) for dinner. The last few days have been pretty tiring so we are taking a day off here tomorrow to recover before the final push to the border with Ecuador. This isn’t a big tourist town so we have no big plans for the day, other than to sleep in and do a bit of planning. I am sure though, that Dave will have us wandering around the city for at least part of the day…