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Casa Pastoral: sleeping with the nuns
When I first read about staying at Las Lajas, it almost sounded like there was only one place to stay: the nun-run Casa Pastoral. Perhaps at one point that was the case. At any rate, it was where we planned on staying and though I had tried to reserve a room via e-mail I had never heard back from them. On arrival in town, we made our way to it despite it being obvious there were other accommodation options to be had in town. Of course, it was not likely that any of them would be cheaper since the nuns certainly were not being extortionate with their pricing. It was a charming enough complex with a big courtyard. OK, it was not in the best shape but it was easy to see that in fine weather and with a few other customers, it would be a pleasant enough place to stay for a night. It was however, dismal and gray with no one other person staying there. It was obviously off-season as we found out that the complex's restaurant was not open for any meals. So much for convenience. Well, it is close to where the shared taxis drop you off and certainly an easy enough stroll to the cathedral, the reason you are there after all.
Our room was quite small, more of a cell really. We were offered a few choices since there were so many rooms available and we took one with only one window as it was obvious there was no heat in the room and we figured that being between two rooms would make for a warmer “cell.” The bed was shall we say VERY firm. Ok, it was kind of hard and I like firm beds. The much needed blankets (and there were a few) were heavy. Once in bed, you felt the weight of the world upon you and though initially like being on a slab of ice, it did warm up quickly enough, especially with two people in the tomb. All the rooms have private bath and yes, even hot water. Of course, you have to have some nerve to take a shower as it is absolutely freezing in the room if the weather is anything like what we experienced. I did grab one none-the-less. I think my wife waited to get back to Pasto!
It is very secure. In fact, you have to ring a bell to be let into the complex. This is good and bad as you don't really feel like going in and out and “bothering” the nuns to be let back in!
We paid 18000 COP ($9) for both of us so certainly the cheapest room we had in two months traveling around Colombia. We actually had one room that was worse too, maybe even two so really a good value overall. As I said, it is probably a nice enough place to stay in season when there are some pilgrims staying there and I can imagine at times of true pilgrimage, it probably gets quite crowded and perhaps noisy at that. I'd probably be complaining about that here if that was the case but a few more bodies would have been nice. Empty places can be a bit eerie and this was the case for us at Casa Pastoral when we stayed there. Not bad and certainly if you want to spend the night in Las Lajas and are on a budget, it's not a bad choice. To be honest, many of the other budget options didn't look much better and surely the nicer places are quite a bit more money.
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