I wanted to learn Spanish. That's where it began. I asked a friend, an ESL instructor, do you know anyone who might be willing to help me practice? Indeed, it turned out, he did. And so began about 6 months of a new friendship while I learned Spanish and my new friends learned English. It was a regular weekly ritual over coffee at the local bakery.
One day, my friends gave me a pictorial tour of their country, in Spanish. When they were finished they asked, "So where in Colombia do you want to go?" Without hesitation, I replied, "Everywhere!"
I was fortunate to be able to visit them and travel in country with their family for two weeks in December, experiencing the country through their eyes, both in their daily routines and as tourists. What a treasure it is to have the opportunity to travel with a family in another country!
In the year before I went, I had read about eco-communities on the plains (los llanos) and I knew something of the news of the peace accord, just recently signed prior to my trip in late 2016. But the country was a blank slate to me and I was eager to learn so that I could return more educated, sharing my knowledge with friends and family.
The trip centered around Bogota as our base. From there we traveled to a ranch on the plains via Villavicencio and San Martin, to Espinal the rice growing region where my friend was completing her doctoral research, to Villa de Leyva, a sweet little colonial town for the early December festival of lights, and to Boyaca to the largest lake in the country in the onion growing region. These trips were small jaunts in a country with so many beautiful corners to explore and each day we added more places to the list that we wanted to visit. Perhaps there will be another time to do so.
My Spanish may not have improved during the trip despite all the exposure, but I know my brain was massaged from listening so hard and being immersed for so many days!
Plaza de Bolivar, Bogota
El Museo del Oro, Bogota: I highly recommend a visit to this museum for their gold collection. It's excellent.
One of my favorites.
At the market: Ibia (white tubers) and Chugua (red tubers).
The people say, 'tomorrow's breakfast in Bogota.'
Brick factory with coal fired furnaces.
Laguna de Tota the largest lake in Colombia.
Street art in Sogamoso.
La Patasola, a folk figure in Colombian folktales.
Poker is a common beer in Colombia.
In Villa de Leyva, the cobblestones are quite large. What a history they could tell.
Colombia has three ranges of the Andes that divide the country. We crossed both the Central and the Oriental and geologic observations are abundant on these trips.
Fiesta de las Luces en VIlla de Leyva.
There's a method to driving in los llanos.
Una vaquera llanera. And, one of my happiest memories.