Popayan, Colombia; known for it’s (apparently) uber impressive Semana Santa celebrations. In fact, according to a well-reputed source (Sebastian, the cab driver who took us from the bus station to our hostel) the president of Colombia himself celebrates Semana Santa in Popayan. The Catholic processions (in which large pasos, or hardwood platforms carrying life-size figurines depicting Biblical scenes are carried through the streets for 3 hours) in this city are apparently the best in Latin America, and rival those in Spain. We wouldn’t know. We decided to visit Popayan the week before Semana Santa. We just like to be ahead of the times-you know?
For us this beautiful white-washed colonial town, with a towering church on every corner, will instead be remembered for eerily-lit taxidermy and hot springs. Let me explain. We decided to visit the Popayan Museum of Natural History, after all- who doesn’t enjoy a good afternoon chock full of natural history??? And the museum did have some amazing specimens!
Unfortunately (fortunately?) most of the rooms were unlit due to faulty wiring and shaded windows. It kinda felt like the setting of a super creepy horror film, or a super terrible Ben Stiller comedy. It made for great ambiance and mediocre viewing/learning opportunities. But heck- I’ll take ambiance over learning any day!
We also decided to give the hot springs near Popayan a try. We took a collectivo through stunning countryside (I’m talking green everywhere, and a water fall every 10 kilometers or so) to the town of Coconuca where we caught moto taxis to the springs.
When we got there we had a choice between aguas tibias (warm waters) and aguas hirviendos (boiling waters), we went with aguas tibias. It was pretty cold out, so i kinda wish we had chosen the hot springs instead of the warm springs, but the surroundings were incredible! And cold just meant that we got to watch thick white clouds rolling across green hills briefly obscuring our vision of flowers, waterfalls and all kinds of other picturesque crap.
All in all; Our impressions of Popayan are of a beautiful and bustling (and by bustling I mean no one obeys what traffic signs there are, and there are basically no traffic signs to follow anyway, and I have had my life flash before my eyes nearly every time I try to cross the freakin’ street) city with a super nice parque central and very friendly people.