JANUARY 9th: Into Colombia

9th January 2001 |

I swept my ethical doubts aside, and as soon as I’d crossed into Colombia I stopped at the roadside and got the red cross out of my tank bag.
An old man saw me from his garden, and came out through the gate to talk.
“How’s life? I asked.
He sighed, mournfully. “It is very difficult, very dangerous.”
Then, as the big, bold rufus cruciform unfolded onto my windshield like the banner of St George, he exclaimed:
“Ah, la Cruz Roja. Nobody will molest you now.”
I took his words as a blessing and set off for Pasto.
The road climbed to 10,000 feet, and swooped around the high passes before bringing me down again to the headwaters of the Cauca river, and by then the landscape had completely distracted me from my paranoid dialogues with imaginary terrorists.
Even after the glories of the Peruvian and Ecuadorian Andes, Colombia is astonishing.

Although much has changed here as everywhere, the mountains still exert their monumental presence.
It was a bitter-sweet experience, riding with the thought that there could be a road block around the next corner, but the landscape seized me, and after a while I just couldn’t think about anything else.

Back to 1974

Coming up to the Colombian border at Ipiales. It’s not like that today. They must have moved the road since.

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