We left Bogotá in two cars to head to Barichara, 321 kilometres away from Bogotá. To begin with Juan David, Marian, Sienna, Kev and I headed off to JD's childhood home where we met his mother Catalina (known as Catta) and where his sister Natalia and Gloria - Marian's mum -joined us. Then we set off, heading first to Villa de Leyva in the mountains about two hours away, and where Kev and I spent a couple of days when we were in Colombia five years ago. I travelled in one car with Gloria, Catta and Natalia who did the driving while Kev went with JD, Marian, and Sienna. After lunch at El Camaleon in Villa de Leyva we picked up Marian's brother David, who joined us in our car, as we all continued our journey to Barichara along a very rough, windy and pock marked road. There didn't seem to be anyone else using the road, apart from the odd walker who we enquired as to whether or not we were on the right road. Finally we made it to a more well used road where we were joined by other cars. Then the fun began as it started raining
heavily. The only compensation was that, with cliffs either side of the road, we passed some beautiful waterfalls. But the rain never stopped, with thunder and lightening to add to the drama. The road remained windy as it took us through the mountains. Despite the fact that it was a toll road we were on, it was only one lane either way with no dual carriageway at all. Darkness soon set in which, together with the thunder, lightening and torrential rain, plus the many trucks using the road, made for a very hazardous journey. Then, around 7pm we turned a corner only to be greeted by a long line of traffic at a complete standstill. We were stationary for over an hour due to a landslide and a truck which had broken down while the rain, thunder and lightening continued - before finally, and very slowly we were able to get through on the one side of the road still available; one side was one huge hole! The fact that traffic was banked up on either side meant that it was torturously slow before we were finally back to normal. I'd begun to think that we were going to have
to spend the night asleep in the car! It was actually after 11pm before we finally arrived at our beautiful accommodation where we were greeting by the two people who were to look after us for our stay, Gloria and Luz Miranda. The rain was still pelting down, it was like a mini river running down the street so you can imagine how thankful we were to finally have arrived. There was no electricity as the storm had blacked out the whole village; luckily mobile phones have torches! So around midnight we were safely tucked into our beds and SO relieved to have made it through. Both JD and Natalia, who had done all the driving for those hours to safely get us there deserve medals for their driving skills in such horrendous conditions! Sincere thanks to you both!
Waking up to a new day it was such a relief to discover that the rain had stopped so we spent our fist day exploring the beautiful house - El Alero's - where we were staying which is on three or four levels as it's built on a hill overlooking much of the town. You walk into a long passage which
leads to the main bedroom with ensuite where JD, Marian, Sienna and Natalia slept. Then comes a courtyard behind which is the kitchen - where delicious meals were cooked for us by Gloria and her daughter Luz Miranda - and a dining room facing another courtyard. Then more steps to two more bedrooms where the rest of us slept sharing a toilet, shower and washbasin. More steps lead to a lounge room overlooking the rest of the house. In-between all the various buildings are beautiful gardens with various plants, flowers, herbs and fruit trees. It was such a pleasure to just relax; a walk around some of the town was the most exercise we managed for the day! There are lots of little shops in the town, selling art crafts that they make. Kev bought some slippers and I bought a table runner,the latter being made of a leaf which is stripped into threads, dyed and then woven . It was dark by the time we got to the cathedral where there must have been a family party just finishing as they were playing "Happy Birthday" while many people started streaming out. Back at our Hacienda there was another delicious
meal waiting for us which we followed with a game of Skip Bo before calling it a night. After a breakfast of fruit we all set off in two cars to visit the organic coffee farm of Esperanza and Jorge which was about three kilometres from the town on a very rough track. We were met at the gate of the farm by Esperanza and her sister Fanny Rosa, plus one of their workers and his son of about eight years old who was a very sweet boy. It turned out to be a perfect day. We walked through the coffee plantation with explanations from Esperanza about all the pros and cons of growing and harvesting coffee Plus how they make their own organic fertiliser. That took at least a couple of hours following which we drove to Esperanza's beautiful house which was a little way from the coffee plantation and somewhat higher. Having bought an old farmhouse and the small holding which surrounded it they had added further buildings and made themselves a wonderful piece of paradise to live in. Most of their meals are eaten out of doors on a huge stone table under the shade of some
trees a little way from the kitchen. With the table set for us all, and joined by Esperanza's husband Jorge - both of whom spoke English well - we enjoyed a delicious breakfast of fruit followed by scrambled eggs and some sort of little flat cakes, which are more like bread and which you can add butter and jam to. All this was washed down with freshly squeezed juice and finally, we had a coffee tasting. Kev loved the coffee, some of which we brought to take home, while I had some hot chocolate. It would have been a temptation to stay there all day as it was so perfect. Instead we checked out where the coffee was roasted, packed etc before being shown around all the parts of the house. Just as the place where we're staying, toilets and showers consisted of walls which were only about two metres high, the rest was open to the elements. Esperanza explained that they were going to offer accommodation through Airbnb which I've no doubt would be very popular for a rustic farmhouse getaway. Sincere thanks to JD and Natalia who were our drivers once again and for taking us to see
a bit of what rural Colombia has to offer; we were very grateful to be given the opportunity to experience such a different way of life to that which we live in Australia. A lazy walk to Fundación San Lorenzo where they showed us how they made paper from all sort of natural materials, back to our farmhouse for a late lunch and an equally lazy afternoon before we packed in time for an early start The following day. All that was left was to enjoy our last evening meal in Barichara together Followed by another card game or two. Thankfully the trip back only took about six hours, arriving back in Bogotá before 3pm. What a lovely way to spend a weekend! fed such delicious fresh food!
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