After I wrote the last time (Friday morning) I continued to search for a hotel. The third one that I tried the receptionist told me every place was sold out because the President was visiting Tulcan. I was considering backtracking to Ibarra 2 ½ hours. Pasto is the town with the festival and it is five hours. The next town is Popayan which is eight more hours and the LP doesn’t recommend travel on this route at night. Then I remembered Ipiales just across the border. After the border formalities and a short taxi ride into town I found it to be celebrating the same festival as Pasto, the Carnivales de Blancos y Negros and it wasn’t raining. Most of the town was cut off by a huge, all day parade and of course the hotels were on the other side of the parade route. After a couple of hours of trying to find a way to the other side, to no avail, I stumbled upon a small hotel and it actually had rooms available. It was somewhat basic - but unlike the one in Tulcan, it was clean. The room included a bathroom and it had hot water.
I checked in then went back out and took more pictures of the parade. When it finally ended I was able to cross over the parade route and walk another block to the main square. There I encountered absolute chaos. Everybody was armed with huge pistol gripped spray cans of foam; some had bags of talcum powder and others had tubes of paint. I think that I got some great pictures there.
Yesterday was nine hours in a bus, with beautiful mountain scenery, but there was off-and-on rain. The driver was a maniac and the bus was uncomfortable. There were many spots where you could look down: out your window and see a one foot high cement curb and the next thing would be the river about 2000 feet straight down. None the less I made it to Popayan by nine and got a beautiful hotel in the colonial heart of the city.