Colombian History, Prehistoric and Colonial

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March 5th 2009
Published: March 23rd 2009
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Day 704 (03.03.09)

The small colonial town of Villa de Leyva was given protected status over 50 years ago and so none of the buildings are modern and the cobbled streets are lined with small whitewashed houses with pretty little balconies and brightly coloured flowers tumble over high garden walls.

We had managed to catch a brief but beautiful glimpse of the town on our way through in the dark the night before and were keen to wander the towns narrow roads but since we had a whole day at our disposal we decided to head out of town to visit the surrounding attractions saving the town exploration for our half day tomorrow.

About 6km from Villa de Leyva is El Fósil, an almost complete fossil of a kronosaurus. We didn-t have a clue what a kronosaurus was so decided we really ought to find out! We walked out along the road and reached the small museum within an hour. It turns out that a kronosaurus was a marine dinosaur that kind of resembles a large crocodile but with flippers.

Just a couple of km away from El Fósil is Sanctuario Infiernito, a site containing a large number of stone monoliths that were apparently used by indigenous people to determine the seasons. After some rather garbled directions from the ladies at the Fossil museum (they talk mighty quick here!) we made our way across what appeared to be peoples farmland and backyards until we came across the site.

The first section was principally made up of two long parallel lines of monoliths sunk into the ground a few metres from each other. The second just seemed to be a load of stone phalluses sitting in a field. There wasn-t a lot of information (that we could understand) at the site so we left for our walk back to town pretty much none-the-wiser but it had certainly been a unique place to visit!

Day 705 (04.03.09)

We spent the morning meandering aimlessly through the gorgeous streets of Villa de Leyva heading out and back in different directions from the huge central plaza, reportedly the largest in the country. Having explored a fair amount of the town centre, tried hard not to break our ankles on the large cobbles and poked our noses into some of the little craft and gift shops we felt it was time for a coffee break. We found a cafe on the plaza and sat down for a bit of refreshment before heading back to collect our bags from the hostel and making our way to the bus station.

An afternoon of buses, thankfully only 2 this time, took us back to Tunja and then on towards San Gil where we checked into the Macondo Hostel, found out about the seemingly endless list of activities available to us, quickly realising we would end up staying far longer than we had planned. As the afternoon progressed a fellow backpacker brought in a bag of ants, a local delicacy in this area, where we all had a taste. They were big fellas, well i guess the little ones wouldnt make much of a snack, and tasted kinda like what youd expect a salty bug to taste like.

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