The Queer Journey to Colombia — Quito + Tulcán + Ipiales

A foggy night in Plaza Foch — “Foch Yeah!”

The Journey to Quito, Ecuador — La Mariscal

2019 April — Our bus ride to get there from Tena in the Amazonas was unforgettable. Aside from the usual beautiful views, we were stopped by the police at a checkpoint. They asked for identification of all the bus riders and we were singled out. After looking at my U.S. passport, they asked us to bring our luggage into their station to be searched. It quickly turned from terrifying to hilarious. They checked what was on our person — our pockets, our jackets, and our satchels/fanny packs. Inside of my satchel was the remnants of a Montañita night where we smoked with some cool guys on the beach. A joint butt was still there. It actually only smelled like burnt paper at this point. Event though it only smelled like smoke, it raised their suspicions enough to continue searching our bags. They led us to their building where they had the space for searching luggage. They began opening our bags, going through everything. While searching our bags, they came across a very special stash that we kept inside my Sterling chalk bag. It was all our sex toys. They turned on a vibrator and didn’t know how to turn it off. For me, they immediately went from being scary men to being silly little boys who just found a hilarious new toy. Of course, then the conversation turned into discussion of gender roles and whatnot. However, we were in their good graces after they saw how many toys we had. Of course, because of the lax laws and ways in which the law enforcement operates, they ended up stealing my best vibrator while we wearing looking. We believe this was a bribe of sorts. I still mourn the loss of this vibrator.

The poster for a 420 event at Dirty Sanchez.

More Queer times in Quito, Ecuador — La Mariscal

After getting a million bug bites in Tena, it was time to let our bodies heal in the big city where less living things can survive. So, we are back in Quito. It was a cloudy and rainy weekend on our stop here before continuing to travel north. The Airbnb we got was a studio apartment all to ourselves. The studio came with a sun room balcony, which is the best part of the apartment. The rest of the apartment was quite cold. The location was great though. Just like the previous stays in Quito, we are near the same Supermaxi and the Plaza Foch party scene. We only stayed here for 2 nights, so we mostly remained inside getting work done and prepping for our trip Colombia. Of course, we had to go back to Touch and Dirty Sanchez. This weekend is the weekend of 420. Despite it being Easter, there was still a crowd downtown. Dirty Sanchez had the best vibes. We danced, we reunited with our love and we continued wandering around until we had our fill of partying. Being in Quito just for the weekend was perfect. It has a solid night life with a lot of variety. Quito is a good midway point between many travel locations in Ecuador and to go to Colombia by land. Not only is the wifi reliable so that we can get things done before the main journey, but the two bus terminals have buses that go just about anywhere you’re trying to go.

The border between Ecuador and Colombia.

Crossing the Border — Tulcán, Ecuador

We took the bus from Quito to Tulcán and then took a cab to the border. The main theme of South America so far has been that everything is super chill. This is no U.S. of America. There isn’t a mountain of red tape. Their laws and reinforcement of them seem super chill or nonexistent. That being said, there are other things you have to worry about like crime because of this. But during the day time with all of our items secured to our persons, I had no worry as to whether or not the border crossing would go smoothly. They actually didn’t even check our bags. The only semi-confusing part was figuring out where to go. That was because the amount of people was chaotic. A ton of people were lining the area entering Ecuador with many belongings and family members seemingly camping out there. We can only speculate as to why. There were cab drivers everywhere, cars zooming around, and lots of people trying to exchange all currencies — Colombian pesos, US dollars, Peruvian sols. Once we got our passports stamped and crossed over the Ecuadorian customs, we walked to the Colombian side and I got my U.S. passport stamped while Viviana entered as a Colombian citizen, no passport stamp necessary. Then, we took a cab to our hotel in Ipiales.

One of the many beautiful and busy plazas in Ipiales.

Queer Adventures in Ipiales, Colombia

Ipiales is a border town in Colombia. Things to do are to go shopping and see the cathedral. We didn’t see the cathedral, but we did a lot of window shopping. We stayed the day we arrived, a full day and then left early in the morning. Even though it was less than 48 hours, it felt way too long to be in Ipiales. After wandering around for one day, we had gotten the gist of the place. It is really easy to get around. We wandered around on our own there and it is impossible to get lost. While in Ipiales, we were take out Colombian pesos from the bank and get Colombian phone numbers. To summarize, Ipiales is the place to go to get yourself setup for the rest of your time in Colombia. On our last day, at 5am, we took a cab to the airport for our flight to Cali. It was a tiny airport with only one gate. Apparently, only around 3 flights leave there per week, so it is important to plan for that in terms of your travel timing. The process was easy. It was much easier than the ones in the U.S. Security searched our luggage, but hardly. Once we finished checking our bags in and whatnot, we went into the cafeteria and had desayuno. We still had about 2 hours until boarding. The entire experience was very chill and relaxing. Way better than taking the bus. 10 out of 10. Highly recommend.

A beautiful mural in Ipiales.