We woke up early this morning - by 5:30 we were walking the streets looking for a taxi to take us to the bus station. In the dark we walked towards the park and after a few blocks we hailed a taxi and quickly got to the station. We bought our tickets and the bus ended up being about 45 minutes late. Carmen bought her crackers and mango juice to stop the nausaus feeling.
We rode the bus for almost 10 hours to the area close to the boarder of Ecuador and Colombia. As we ride we see the edge of the road and very deep drops with beautiful scenery. There was no AC on the bus. it seems they are making progress on their highway, lots of construction. As the cars try to pass each other with limited visibility. There is one lane each way. In the middle of the day, when it got hot the driver opened the side door of the mini van so that the air could circulate. With the cool wind coming in we were really comfortable. Having the door open reminded us of Romancing the Stone.
Finally after 10 hours of riding we arrive in Ipiales. We did not have a reservation because there had not been any wifi on the bus. When we got off the bus there was a blue hotel just by the station. We took the chance and talked to a taxi driver and told him we wanted a hotel next to the sanctuary/cathedral. He was nice and wanted to get to know us. He took us to a very small hotel where his friend worked. He could drive no further into the area, because it was all blocked off with buildings. We got a room for 15 dollars a night. It had hot water, a small restroom. Once we got into the small room we could see that we were there just to spend the night.
The bed was sunken in the middle. I got two of the thick covers and folded them neatly to place in the middle of the mattress. We were very tired, yet did not want to waste any time and walked down to the church. We were very pleased. Our knees were hurting, especially mine with the operation. The walk was slow and steep towards the river. Once we made the final turn we were able to see the sanctuary and were surprised and amazed all at once. As the sun went down the lighting on the building turned on. It was very late and we had the place all to ourselves. The shops were closing, but Carmen was able to buy a candle from one of the last vendors. We took many pictures and walked the bridge, but not to the waterfall because it was dark. We agreed to enter the museum and visit the waterfall in the morning. We were so happy to be there and to have made it to this amazing sanctuary. A beautiful last stop in Colombia before heading into Ecuador. We walked slowly back to the hotel, around 9 pm and even though we were tired, we took a shower and quickly fell asleep. There was a very quiet qnd calm feeling in the air. We woke to the sound of the church bells at 5:30 am.