Friday, November 18, 2011

Boyacá, Colombia

Colombia is made up of 32 departments and Boyacá is one of these. Located about 10 hours (by bus) north-east of Ibagué, I took a trip up there last Friday to visit some friends. Boyacá is very different to what I’ve seen of Colombia so far. The buildings in Tibasosa, the village where I stayed, were all old, conquistador-style buildings, and it was very pretty and quaint. The house that my friends are living in has a open courtyard in the middle of the house with rooms leading off from it, wooden shutters on the windows and a sloping roof made from terracotta tiles. In short, it was lovely.

We explored quite a bit in Boyacá - Saturday we took a trip to the Lago de Tota via Aquitania, where it was raining quite heavily but we managed to get some snaps of the imposing church there. From Aquitania we took the bus round the lake to Playa Blanca, known for it’s naturally white sand. It was very scenic but also very cold, we were 3,000m up after all and the sky was filled with grey, scudding clouds threatening rain. We took shelter inside the only restaurant, known for having terrible food. We thought we’d be safe with a hot beverage, we were wrong. Apparently this restuarant can’t even mix together hot milk and chocolate powder successfully, it was undrinkable.

Afterwards we walked up from Playa Blanca and back onto the road circling the lake, the weather had cleared a bit by this point and we could flag our bus from any point on the road so we kept walking for a while, taking photos and enjoying being the only non-Colombians probably for a couple of hundred miles! Eventually we got on the bus and headed to Iza, a small village famed for its picturesque parque principale and its many dessert stalls. The vendors offer you a taste of any dessert you ask to try and after trying four or five we picked out our favourites and enjoyed them sat down in the sun. Then we got on the bus and headed back to Tibasosa, to Italian food, beers and card games.

Sunday and the weather was still pretty grim, very unusual for Tibasosa apparently, I obviously just got lucky (!). We spent the day helping to decorate some carts for a procession later on in the day - they had a festival going on - and by coincidence we ended up decorating the Tolima cart (the department I live in), cutting out paper flowers and blowing up balloons. Then we had lunch on the balcony of one of the resturants my friends’ host family own, (the Italian restaurant being the other), overlooking the parque and the procession. We had the traditional lunch of Ajiaco chicken and potato soup which is absolutely delicious. The soup is served with rice, a slice of avocado, capers and cream. You pour the cream on to the soup and season with capers, and have the rice and avocado alongside it. ES MUY RICO.

After a bit of a relax and recuperation in bed we went out dancing in Duitama, a small city half an hours drive away from Tibasosa, where we drank a bottle of aguardiente, on top of the beers and other bottle of aguardiente we’d already had, and so we got quite drunk. The lie-in this drunkeness resulted in the next day put a hold on our trip to Nobsa (I laughed every time anyone mentioned the name of this place), known for its ruanas, the Colombian equivalent of a poncho, now been postponed until the next time I visit Boyacá, which I hope will be in February sometime, as I had to get the bus back to Ibagué.

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