It seemed a longer walk in the dark but we soon enough found ourselves walking against the throng of worshipers returning from evening mass. We quickened our pace, afraid that once the lights within the cathedral were turned out, the lights on it would go out too. Though we got there in time, it was already quite dark. It's really best to take “night” photos in the early evening, right after the lights are turned on but before the sun entirely takes its natural light with it below the horizon. To make matters worse, I had also neglected to take my tripod when I left our room at the convent even though I had dragged it with me from Pasto. It was not exactly the most lit up cathedral I had ever seen either, with the top portion being devoid of lights but we had made the effort to get there so I grabbed what photos I could and we set back off the convent and the aforementioned safety of our little cell.
It was all uphill from the cathedral but we walked very quickly and with purpose. It was dark, cold, even a little scary. We didn't see anyone but we couldn't get over the idea that on one of the very last nights in the country, our luck would run out and a group of local thugs would pop out of the shadows and steal our cameras at best, the worst not even thought about. Though seeing the cathedral lit up was certainly great, I wondered whether it was really “worth” taking this chance and as is often the case for me, feeling guilty at subjecting my wife to such things. Of course, we made it back after what seemed an indeterminable walk. Safe in our cell, we heaved a silent sigh of relief. We laid down in our hard, cold bed, in the dark and prayed the morning would come soon. We were safe but this place still seemed spooky. We longed for Pasto and Bogota. I guess after two months, we now longed for home too.
Las Lajas was our last stop in Colombia. Well, we would go back to Bogota for a couple of days to get our flight home but that was familiar territory to us now. We had arrived in the afternoon, got our room at the convent, and headed down to the gorge over which the magnificent cathedral spans. The light was decent so we grabbed a lot of photos from various vantage points. To be honest, we could have jumped on a bus back to Pasto at that point. We had pretty much got what we came for but we already had our room so we stuck to our plan to spend the night. It was a very touristy little town and it lacked the charm of the small town on Laguna de la Cocha, where we had spent the morning. We wandered around but soon grew bored of looking at rosaries and crucifixes meant as souvenirs for the pilgrims who flood the town at busier times. This was not one of those so we went back to our little cell only to grow equally bored there in its restrictive confines. So, out for dinner we ventured and there was little choice in this department either. Since there were few people in town, many of the towns restaurants were closed. It was also pouring so we didn't want to venture too far.
The place we found was friendly enough but even their menu was limited by the lack of potential customers so we had only two choices of what to eat. The food was not exactly gourmet fare but it was cheap and filled us up well enough for the night. It was nothing to make us forget Pasto and though we never said it, we both surely wished we were eating back there and laying our heads in the comfy hostel room we had grown used to in only one night there. It was already dark and if our room was more enticing we probably would have foregone going back into the gorge for night photos but the thought of going back there too early drove us back to the cathedral. It had stopped raining and after all, getting night photos was part of the reason for spending the night here.(concluded below in Fondest Memory)
Well, you've come all this way for one thing really, right? Las Lajas is the cathedral, the cathedral and nothing but the cathedral. Not exactly, there is the gorge over which it spans and it is one gorgeous gorge though I'm not sure anyone would stop if it weren't for the cathedral that sets it apart.
Fondest memory: It was dark, cold. We passed no one but we walked in a very hurried fashion. We wanted little more than to be back in our room, despite it being a somewhat spooky room in a convent. Equally cold, perhaps not all that much brighter. But it would be inside and safer than we imagined ourselves to be at the moment. Of course, this safeness was entirely a frame of mind. We knew it deep down but still.
We had been traveling around Colombia for just about two months at this point, entirely without incident aside from one encounter with a drug-ravaged panhandler who tried to get a bit too close on our second day in Bogota. This was just a matter of letting someone who shouldn't have been allowed that close to begin with. Colombia had shown itself to be every bit as safe as any of the other five South American countries we had been to prior despite its reputation for danger. To be fair, much like all our South American travels, we didn't stay out late at night, partying. We generally went home after dinner or perhaps after a nightcap somewhere relatively close to where we were staying. This was not entirely out of design for safety as we are not late night people anyway, but of course this is a convenient side effect of an early to bed, early to rise mentality. (continued below in Fondest Memory)