HIS original plan was to take his army by sea to join Sucre in Guayaquil; but the arrival of a Spanish fleet on the Pacific coast made that impossible. There was nothing for it but a march southward overland.
The first phase, as far as Popoyán, was relatively easy-- down the valley of the Cauca, cleared beforehand of the enemy, between the mighty ranges of the Andes. There he rested his army and there, too, he won a bloodless victory--not an important one at all, but interesting as an example of the tremendous power of his personality. Upon Bolívar's approach to the outposts near the city, Colonel José Obando, the commander of the small Spanish garrison, came out under a flag of truce and asked for an interview. The request granted, the two officers met in conference. Obando succumbed completely to the Liberator's charm, hombría and persuasion. He ended up, not only by surrendering, but by offering his services and the services of his officers and troops to the patriot cause. He fought under Bolívar loyally and valiantly for the rest of the war.
Southward, those mountains went mad. Their ordered ranges snarled themselves into a mighty jumble of shining glacial peaks that pierced the clouds and reared beyond them into thin blue space; of dark, bottomless gorges and raging streams and thunderous cataracts that clothed the narrow passes in cold mists. It was a country where some giant, creating gods had run amok. In the very heart of it, on a high plateau, was the town of Pasto.