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Driving from the coffee district to Cali we finally figured out what the immense fields of tall reeds surrounding the highway were… a question that had been playing at the back of our minds since Guatemala. It was sugar cane, and it’s what Cali was founded on. Cali is renown also for its salsa clubs and, more contentiously, claims to have the most beautiful women in the country.

A good friend of ours has family in Cali so we were to stay with them while we were in the city. We met at a well known department store (three brothers had built up the chain from nothing, a local rags to riches story). Mariela works for the cosmetic giant Yanbal and immediately reminded us of Kelsey’s  go getter Aunt Nettie who works in a similar industry. Tacho,  Andres’ father, introduced me to the subtle art of ventando (which translates to window-ing), this requires a quiet spot, a window sill at bar height and a meditative mind. They were fantastic hosts, it was here that we tried pan de bono … yet another delicious Colombian carbohydrate along with avena, a cold, creamy oatmeal drink in a tetra pack that I detest and Kelsey has come to adore. According to her, it is a
“tasty oatmeal milkshake!”

After a good look around the Cauca valley and the surrounding area we left to spend some more family time in Popayán about six hours south. Popayán is a cool little town that was pretty much leveled by an earthquake in 1983 and now nearly completely restored. After the heat and humidity of Cali the cooler climes of Popayán were a welcome relief, but the best thing about Popayán was the people. Again we were met with amazing hospitality, our tired Spanish complimented and our intrusion into the lives and homes of our hosts seemed little more than an excuse for a party.

Aguardiente is a local fire water made from sugar cane, we first encountered it in Guatemala but every  region in Colombia boasts its own special brew. Our favourite comes from Medellin and is called Aguardiente Antioqueña, which is infused with aniseed and tastes a little like white zambucca or ouzo, but of course we had to try the local drink – our new found friends called this ‘Aguardientation’.

We left for the Ecaudorian border taking an Aunty with us – our first passenger. Marta quite liked the Aguardiente too, and together we polished off another bottle on our seven hour drive to Ipiales the Colombian border town with Ecuador.

We have been hard at work with our friends to create a website with the most up-to-date information for driving the Pan-American highway. When we began planning our trip we were frustrated with the lack of current information available so the four of us decided to create a site to fill the void.

After 2 weeks of computers, brain-storming, banana smoothies, scrapping ideas, coding (or learning code), writing and fireworks we have started www.drivetheamericas.com. We hope to encourage those who have driven, those who are driving and those who plan to drive to post up helpful tips, ideas, suggestions and anything else that would help a curious driver get on their way to driving the Pan-American Highway.

We have launched the site and hope that those of you out there who are looking for answers stop by and that those of you already on the road do too (we are looking for driving information for South America).

Our work environment was pretty ideal and provided the comfort we needed to really dig into this project so we owe Mango Rosa a big thank you. In between work bouts we found time to relax, read and plan for more upcoming travels.

I think I need to mention how amazing this team is…Tom brought his design prowess to the table, Kristin wrote tons of great content and also began her career as a coder and Chris, resident web-ninja, has been patient with all of us as we learn more about building a site–his enthusiasm definitely is a force to be reckoned with. We are really happy with the start of the site and aim to continue providing helpful and insightful information as well as a place for roadtrippers to connect.

And, of course, a website isn’t complete without a launch party…for those of you who were invited and couldn’t make it you missed out on a good time…drinks, laughs and cul de sacs.

dtalogo

Cul de Sac Party