Volcan Purace

February 1, 2011 - Popayán, Colombia

 This past weekend Lori and I somehow mustered up the strength to pull ourselves out of bed at 3:30am (which is a strict pfo-pa for the typical teacher who considers Saturday as the day of rest/recovery from the week).  We met up with a group of other keeners to drive 4 hours south of Cali, into the mountains south east of Popayan to a park called Parque Nacional Purace.  On Saturday we climbed up a hill to a beautiful outlook over a valley, and we waited...and what for?  All of a sudden a condor swooped in....its wing span stretching about 9 feet!  Yes, 9 feet....Ok that is big if you are seeing it from a distance but as you can see in the pictures we were pretty close!  He had smelt the chunks of raw meat that our guide had put out for him and was coming in for the 'kill'.  He ripped and tore off bite size chunks of meat and flew away back into the Andes before returning a couple more times. 

For the rest of the day we hiked around the park, observing strange intricate plants of the paramo.  That afternoon we arrived at our lodging at 3350m altitude.  Now, you must understand that I do not have Canadian skin anymore and 3350m is cooold.  Cold in Colombia is measured by altitude and not longitude.  After a great dinner of hot soup, rice, fish and....I'm not sure what it was....we climbed into our warm bed in the cabana and settled in for a nice long sleep until 4am the next morning. 

Volcano day!  As we started the climb of Volcan Purace, the sun was still tucked behind the mountains.  We climbed, climbed, then climbed some more.  After many beautiful sights, moments of discovery and verges of altitude sickness, we reached the top!! 4760m!! (Mount Everest is 8848m.....so although it may of felt like it, it was not close to Mount Everest)  You would think you would feel a moment of great victory and triumph.  But what felt better was sitting down and letting my body give my brain the oxygen it had been missing for the past 4 hours.  While lying down near the edge of the crater, I felt the heat from the steaming centre come up.  Although this crater had not erupted for over 40 years, it makes you think of all the 'what ifs'.  Coincidently enough, that night after returning to Cali there was a 4.9 tremor felt in Cali that continued for about a minute, which is actually 20 minutes in 'what if'' time.  The epicentre was actually in Tulua, 170km north of Cali and I have not heard of any destruction as a result.

Until the next adventure!


Sunset in Cabo de le Vela (WAY in north Colombia)
Our accomodation in Cabo de la Vela
El Pilon de Azucar
Pilon de Azucar
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