On sunday the 5th we packed our bags and headed out of the capital. The cab ride to the busstation was a bit longer than anticipated, but hey, we’ve got time. As every busorganisation sells seperate tickets, the vendors tend to come to you. So, 5 minutes after entering the busstation, we found ourselves stacking in some empanadas for lunch as our bus would be leaving in about 20 minutes. Everything went smoothly, the little one went to sleep and in just about 3 hours we arrived at the little village of Villa de Leyva.
It was only a 5-minute walk to our hotel, so no need to take a cab! After unpacking we went out for a late lunch. When arriving at the Plaza Mayor, we couldn’t see anything of that supposedly largest Plaza in Colombia, because it was stuffed with people and horses alike! It turns out it was a Festival de Caballo, with shows demonstrating all kind of breeds. As it was the last night, the shows were amazing, though it was a little hard to find a spot were we could actually see something. We saw traditional dances, people standing on top of their horses and acrobatic cowboy shows. When a rider or a group was done, you could come in for some pics with the horses, but off course we didn’t take our camera or phone as we were ‘only out for lunch’. By the time we went to collect it, it was starting to get dark, but we still managed to get some pics!
The next day we planned to hike to a few waterfalls and a mirador. We managed to almost get to the beginning of the trail in about 2 hours (finding an old playground didn’t help), so we decided to postpone it. The rest of the day was spent wandering the little streets.
On Tuesday we started with a relaxing morning and then hopped on the bus to Ráquira, which is the place to be for souvenirs. As we’ve only just started travelling we don’t really have the space yet to stock up on souvenirs, but we still wanted to check out the village. In the bus we met a French couple with a lovely 2-year old girl, so we had lots to talk about. The village itself is perfect for some hours wandering the shops and enjoying the colourful houses and the Plaza.
The next day we were ready to tackle that mountain again. This time we managed to get to the start of the trail. With a little drawing/map from Hostal El Renacer (where the route starts) we set off, immediately climbing a very slippery mountain. It got better, but the trail was a little too wild to do with a toddler on the back, so after about half an hour we decided to go back. But we did have some marvellous views over the village!
On our last full day in Villa de Leyva we hired a taxi to bring us to 2 sights nearby. The first one was ‘El Fósil’, a paleontological museum just outside of town. In 1977 some farmers discovered the remains of a dinosaur. It turned out to be the most intact skeleton of a Kronoaurus in the world and it has never been moved since the discovery! A guide was included in the entrance fee, so we smacked up both our dinosaurknowledge and our dinosaurSpanish.
At the end of the street there’s another paleontological centre where you can see paleontologists working, but as the Little Monster was getting tired we decided to skip that one and head straight on toward ‘El Infiernito’. This name was given by the Spanish describing it as ‘the little hell’ because they believed it to be a Pagan place of worship. The actual name is Observatorio Astronómico de Zaquenzipa, a holy place for the early inhabitants. The many stone columns are part of a calender, while the phallic form of the megaliths represent strenght and fertility.
On our way back to town we passed La casa terracota, the biggest ceramic house in the world. As the day was already too tiring for N. we didn’t go in, but it looks like a lot of fun since you get a tour by the people who are actually living in it!
Our last hours in Villa de Leyva were spent eating pancakes, seeing the big Plaza finally almost empty and playing at the playground one last time. Tomorrow we’re hopping onto the bus again!