Popayan Colombia
Up Ipiaels Colombia

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Popayan Colombia: This is a shot inside the courtyard of the Hotel Monasterio looking down one of the hallways.


Popayan Colombia: This is the entrance to the San Francisco Church next to the Hotel Monasterio where I stayed while in Popayan.


Popayan Colombia: Base of the statue in front of the San Francisco Church next to the Hotel Monasterio where I stayed while in Popayan.


Popayan Colombia: Santuario de BelÚn Church Entry Path Stations of the Cross #1


Popayan Colombia: Santuario de BelÚn Church Entry Path Stations of the Cross #2


Popayan Colombia: Santuario de BelÚn Church Entry Path Stations of the Cross #3


Popayan Colombia: Santuario de BelÚn Church Entry Path Stations of the Cross #4


Popayan Colombia: Santuario de BelÚn Church Entry Path Stations of the Cross #5


Popayan Colombia: Santuario de BelÚn Church Entry Path Stations of the Cross #6


Popayan Colombia: Santuario de BelÚn Church Entry Path Stations of the Cross #7


Popayan Colombia: Santuario de BelÚn Church Entry Path Stations of the Cross #8


Popayan Colombia: Santuario de BelÚn Church Entry Path Stations of the Cross #9


Popayan Colombia: Santuario de BelÚn Church Entry Path Stations of the Cross #10


Popayan Colombia: Santuario de BelÚn Church Entry Path Stations of the Cross #11


Popayan Colombia: Santuario de BelÚn Church Entry Path Stations of the Cross #12


Popayan Colombia: Santuario de BelÚn Church Entry Path Stations of the Cross #13


Popayan Colombia: Santuario de BelÚn Church Entry Path Stations of the Cross #14


Popayan Colombia: Santuario de BelÚn Church Entry Path Stations of the Cross #15


Popayan Colombia: The Hotel Monasterio where I stayed sits adjacent to the San Francisco Church still in use.


Popayan Colombia: Entrance to the Hotel Monasterio where I stayed while in Popayan.


Popayan Colombia: Looking in from the street on one of the converted old haciendas.


Popayan Colombia: Monument in the Central Plaza.


Popayan Colombia: Base of the monument in the Central Plaza; a little hard to read.


Popayan Colombia: Entrance to the Hotel Camino Real.

 

17 September 2005

Hello from Popayan Colombia, 

Popayan could be Santa Barbara's sister city with its modernized old Spanish architecture and lots of history. The Plaza in the center of town is surrounded by restored colonial buildings. The two best hotels have retained the old colonial flavor. The well maintained Hotel Camino Real remains pretty much in its original condition. The Hotel Monasterio, an old desanctified Franciscan Monastery where I'm staying has upgraded bathrooms and totally restored room interiors. Those monks really knew how to create peaceful living spaces as you will see from my pictures. The modern restoration has made the place like new and they furnished the public areas with period furniture, leather chairs, etc. The guest rooms have some compromises for our comfort, but over all they still feel like austere monk's cells. No air conditioning anywhere here; it isn't needed. It is another in the Dann Hotels chain I first discovered in Cali. 

The hotel is attached to the old original Iglesia de San Francisco where Mass continues to be celebrated daily. I can feel the holy vibes from my room a couple hundred feet away. The place reminds me of the Paradores I enjoyed in Spain twenty years ago. There, the Spanish government converted a large number of historically important structures into luxury hotels as a means of generating funds needed to preserve them. Another monastery here has been converted into a city college. I'm incidentally learning a good deal about the early years of Spanish colonization. Those Black Robes (Jesuits) did many dastardly deeds in their determination to convert the heathens. The Brown Robes who lived in our monastery seem to have made their points more gently. Of course their peaceful founder, St. Francis of Assisi taught gentleness.  

The hotel restaurant seats guests on a  patio overlooking the spacious grounds of the monastery. Alone on the patio that first evening, I selected the $8 Club Sandwich for my meal. The chef must have misunderstood the meaning of "club" because he concocted a sandwich so big and heavy it might well have been used as the business end of a battle club. With a slab of steak, the usual other meats and cheeses, four slices of toast with tomatoes and lettuce, the assembly measured five inches thick. Even cut into quarters no one could have eaten it without some disassembly... which proved to be quite messy. Flute and lute music selected for the dining area might have been chosen for a New Age meditation gathering. It added perfectly to the soothing monastic atmosphere and my mood.  

Naturally, I searched the town for other good hotels, but everyone says this is the best and I  personally found none better. On the other hand, the best restaurant might well be in the old atmospheric colonial style Hotel Camino Real where I had a $20 gourmet six course feast one afternoon. The hotel itself is elegant in a colonial sort of way and quaint, being a converted hacienda originally built more than a century ago. Like so many important establishments in the city, the entrance is unimposing and obscurely marked. During my explorations I walked right by it twice. 

The whole town is cool... and WHITE. Everything is whitewashed. Even the nun I saw walking by the Hotel Monasterio one evening was clad head to toe in white. On a foggy day the whole place would probably disappear! While the city streets and sidewalks appear clean, dust getting into my eyes during gusty winds has been a problem here. I see a lot of graffiti in opposition the the free trade agreement being discussed with heads of South American countries by the Bush administration. The acronym in Spanish for the  plan is TLC! (TLC stands for Tratado Libre Comercio, not tender loving care). Oscar, a Colombian coffee broker explained good Colombian coffee is hard to find in his country because foreign importers are willing to pay more than Colombian buyers. I asked him about the South American Free Trade Agreement... and  all the graffiti in opposition to it. "I like it and I think most business people here think it will mean more opportunities for export sales. Poorly paid laborers think it will lead to even worse working conditions than they now have so they oppose it."  

I am now communicating increasingly complex ideas in what still must be awful Spanish. The Colombians good naturedly tolerate my wild attempts to form understandable strings of mispronounced words and more often than not succeed to forming simple responses containing enough Spanish words I recognize to make exchanging ideas possible. The first explorers must have undergone a similar education when encountering strange new languages. It is a joy to see the light of understanding turn on as I stammer away. While far from systematic, learning by necessity is certainly effective. 

I've had to abort my plans to bus over the mountains to the east for a visit to some remarkable ruins near the town of San Agustin. That region is swarming with guerrillas who hate Americans... not Britons or Australians or Canadians... just Americans! Everyone I've asked here in Popayan gave me the same answer, though Oscar, speaking perfect Princeton English said "the road is very busy and rarely is any vehicle attacked... unless an American is known to be aboard!" There were 185 kidnappings in the first four months of this year according to the US State Department. I am now pondering my options: continue south to the Ecuador border and on to Quito or backtrack to Cali and fly over to Leticia for a boat trip up the Amazon in Peru. All of the roads out of Popayan present some risks, though the bus companies assure me going south is "no problemo." As Popayan is a totally charming colonial city I am not anxious to leave.

Until the next postcard,

 

Peace,
Fred L Bellomy

 


Popayan Colombia: This is the entrance to the San Francisco Church next to the Hotel Monasterio where I stayed while in Popayan.


Popayan Colombia: This is a shot inside the courtyard of the Hotel Monasterio looking toward the fountain.


Popayan Colombia: Banner in the entrance to one of the colleges.


Popayan Colombia: Graffiti opposing the South American Free Trade negotiations. I saw a lot of it in this particular town.


Popayan Colombia: Along the path containing the Stations of the Cross sculptures on the way to Santuario de BelÚn Church


Popayan Colombia: Statues atop the performing arts center.


Popayan Colombia: This is a shot inside the courtyard of the Hotel Monasterio looking toward the fountain.


Popayan Colombia: This is a shot inside the courtyard of the Hotel Monasterio looking toward the Church of San Francisco. The church still offers masses daily.


Popayan Colombia: Small dining area adjacent to garden in the Hotel Comino Real Restaurant - that's the main course of my 6 course feast.


Popayan Colombia: Small dining area adjacent to garden in the Hotel Comino Real Restaurant


Popayan Colombia: Friday shopping in Popayan


Popayan Colombia: Friday shopping in Popayan


Popayan Colombia: Friday shopping in Popayan


Popayan Colombia: Entrance to the performing arts center.


Popayan Colombia: Entrance to the Hotel Monasterio where I stayed while in Popayan.


Popayan Colombia: The new bridge into the city.


Popayan Colombia: The Central Plaza.

 

 

 


Popayan Colombia: This is a shot inside the courtyard of the Hotel Monasterio looking toward the Church of San Francisco. The church still offers masses daily.


Popayan Colombia: This is a shot inside the lobby of the Hotel Monasterio looking at a sculpture near the entrance.


Popayan Colombia: Graffiti opposing the South American Free Trade negotiations.


Popayan Colombia: Graffiti opposing the South American Free Trade negotiations.


Popayan Colombia: More graffiti opposing the South American Free Trade negotiations in 2005.


Popayan Colombia: Graffiti opposing the South American Free Trade negotiations.


Popayan Colombia: This is a shot inside the courtyard of the Hotel Monasterio looking toward the fountain.

Popayan Colombia: Another church.

 


Popayan Colombia: Santuario de BelÚn Church entrance


Popayan Colombia: Along the path containing the Stations of the Cross sculptures on the way to Santuario de BelÚn Church-city view


Popayan Colombia: Along the path containing the Stations of the Cross sculptures on the way to Santuario de BelÚn Church-city view


Popayan Colombia: Along the path containing the Stations of the Cross sculptures on the way to Santuario de BelÚn Church


Popayan Colombia: Santuario de BelÚn Church entrance


Popayan Colombia: Start of the path containing the Stations of the Cross sculptures on the way to Santuario de BelÚn Church


Popayan Colombia: Main city Post Office entrance.


Popayan Colombia: Entrance to the performing arts center.


Popayan Colombia: Statues atop the performing arts center.


Popayan Colombia: Everything is whitewashed like these building in this typical street scene.


Popayan Colombia: Everything is whitewashed like these building in this typical street scene.


Popayan Colombia: Statue in front of the San Francisco Church next to the Hotel Monasterio where I stayed while in Popayan.


Popayan Colombia: Small dining area adjacent to garden in the Hotel Comino Real Restaurant - that's the cheese course of my 6 course feast.


Popayan Colombia: Friday shopping in Popayan


Popayan Colombia: Friday shopping in Popayan


Popayan Colombia: Friday shopping in Popayan


Popayan Colombia: Entrance to the Hotel Monasterio where I stayed while in Popayan.


Popayan Colombia: The old and new bridges into the city.


Popayan Colombia: Information about the old and new bridges.


Popayan Colombia: The old bridge into the city.


Popayan Colombia: Looking in from the street on one of the converted old haciendas.


Popayan Colombia: The Central Plaza.

 

Reference photo: author
 August 2002
 

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