|A view from Montserrate|
It is always exciting for us to visit a new country - here we are for our first two weeks in Colombia. My first impressions are that the people are VERY friendly and aim to please. They are really happy to have tourists again visiting their beautiful country after many years of unrest. Things are better they say, though we are often warned to be careful of petty crime - as we would be warned in any place in the world. The people are very proud of their country and the varied terrain as well as variety of lifestyles from city to small villages, jungle and beaches. We will experience many of these during our travels.
We arrived and met a nice driver who was happy to share the important things to do in Bogotá, the capital. He recommended that we go off to get vaccinations before our trip to the Tayrona National Park along the beach/jungle in the north of the country and so he drove us early the next morning to the bus station where the vaccinations were to be given. We arrived to discover that we are too old for them - only given up to 59 years old. We were advised to take thiamine (Vit. B1) and lots of mosquito repellant which we will do.
|Some of the many graffiti walls|
|"Free man" Museo de Oro|
|poco o poco up the mountain|
We enjoyed many vegan friendly restaurants and found the food to be very good. We have tried arepas (like a pancake made with corn - some with cheese, some with fillings and some just plain).
Villa de Leyva
|A view from our hotel|
|Javier - tour guide|
The highlight of this few days was our tour with Javier from Sachica, a traditional village with connections to the indigenous Muisca people. From Javier we learned much of the history and culture of these people. Our walk of over 3 hours took us up a mountain to see the river valley below where we would walk down into a cave with drawings remaining of these people. Javier is an historian and had much to share with us. We ended the walk at the sulfur thermal waterfall. We are always thrilled when we find an adventure tour and usually, as this one, we are surprised along the way because the information given in advance is not always clear to us - partly language and partly because it is hard to envision these places we know nothing about.
|Walking the Camino Real|
Now we are in the small village of Barichara, claimed to be "the prettiest village in Colombia". It is lovely but not sure it would stand as the prettiest of a whole country. It is smaller than Villa de Leyva and much more rustic. It is built high on a hill overlooking a deep canyon with several miradors. Once again there are good food options and we are in a lovely small hotel (Hotel Boutique Bocore) and in the low season which began after the new year, we are the only guests.
|Ricardo's new friends|
Again our adventure hike was the old indigenous Camino Real from Barichara to Guane - about 6 miles mostly downhill but carefully stepping as the whole route was large irregular stones. We walked one way and took a little bus back. We are now in a completely new climate zone with temperatures up into the 80's - my first day in a long time in short sleeves and we are headed to the coast where the temperatures will be warmer. Feels good after many cooler days. Of course we are remembering what it is like in the cold Northeast as we were there last year for the month of January. No complaining here!
|Making paper from Fique (from agave plant)|
|drying the paper|
|Fique (from agave plant)|
|Pineapple, ginger, mint at Shanti with|
uchuva fruit (small tart orange fruit)
All in all - very happy we chose this country to visit and we have another month of travels so will keep you posted as we make our way. Tomorrow we are off to the beach.
Thanks again for traveling with us.