Published: June 15th 2012June 12th 2012
We've been enjoying ourselves immensely in Colombia that writing seemed distracting or just too demanding. But with Amei laid up with the flu, I've found time to catch up on our trip from Cartagena to Bogota. In the kitchen of our peaceful hostel Adanandyami in the Candalaria section of Bogota, I'll recap the past few weeks as briefly and futile as that might be.
Mompox being about a ten hour bus ride away, required and early morning departure from Cartagena. No problem. Up at five, out the door by five thirty and into a taxi to the bus terminal by six. Typical travel timetables. Colombian bus companies compete fiercely for your business, yelling from their cubby holes to choose their line.With a little time, I discovered direct service as opposed to multiple changes and stops, pick up granny and the chickens kind of service. Direct service it was, convenient since you can check backpacks and relax in your seat until arrival. Did I say relax. The trip still entailed rough, bumpy headache inducing dirt roads, a slow, hot, ready to sink ferry ride down a wide muddy river, and more pot holed bouncing around. With bodies rattled, we
were relieved to find our hostel next to where we were dropped off. Check in and showers ensued, and out and about for dinner. The place for dining is the central plaza, where flank steak, chicken or pork dinners go for about $3 dollars and can be washed down with fresh squeezed orange or other juices for a dollar. Mompox is worthy of a visit but watch out. Situated in the Caribbean flat planes where water is everywhere, bugs of all kinds prevail, outdone only by the staggering heat. Make sure you include bug repellant and air conditioning in your plans, or you might just end up howling hysterically like the local howler monkeys.
Before heat stroke struck we were off to San Gil, another long days bus ride away, but gloriously up into the cool and scenic Colombian mountains. We settled in to Sam's hostel for $25 a day with private bath. Cool weather meant we could wander all day, visiting local parks and plazas, eating delicious fresh fruit salads ($1.50) in the central market, and enjoying the mountainous scenery. On top of San Gil's graciousness, there is Barichara nearby, an elderly white washed town that
you almost expect to be welcomed by Juan Valdez of Colombian coffee fame. Stone streets, red tiled homes, horses and livestock directed down main street make for interesting insights. And to enhance those insights, local grocery stores offer shots of rum for those on the go.
Next stop Villa de Leyva, another colonial town that's good for a few days. There's the usual Christ statue up the hill which makes for a moderate hike and pretty panorama. There are art stores and restaurants galore, catering to weekend tourist from Bogota. The town is small enough to walk around in a few hours, that's if you don't break your ankle. The streets are more cratered than cobbled, so watch your step, or for fun watch how others stagger, waver and miss their steps. It's a wonder that half the residents aren't crippled. Anyway, Villa de Leyva lives up to its world heritage designation.
There are more photos below