Tuesday, November 17, 2009

A First Look at -- Colombia!

As I write this, I am sitting outside looking across a deep valley at cloud-covered mountains and the workers at our finca (farm) are busy putting cane on the roof of a little casita to the music from their native radio station. At 4:30 this morning I couldn't sleep and took a short walk to the banos to the accompaniment of roosters crowing from several counties.

I thought about the day before and our arrival in Colombia...
The hotel where we stayed overnight was as expensive as any in the U.S. or Panama, but the accomodations were considerably less lavish. But the breakfast was better than average.

Our drive from Bucaramanga to San Gil took longer than usual since we stopped to overlook the Chickamocha Canyon and the newly opened national park with a gondola ride over the gorge carved by the River Fonce seen above.

The drivers all fight to pass as if they are on the racetrack, the problem is they are on a mountain pass and in some cases, a mistake will mean a fall down thousands of feet... but they still pass on the curves.

And our driver, our host, gives no quarter whether it's a bus or car - only to large trucks. Jey-hu sat in front and I tried to keep my gasping and sudden intakes of breath to a minimum in the back.

Then we were in San Gil, a really sweet little town where we found some truly amazing ice cream, except they were out of coffee flavor because it was a holiday country-wide. What I loved about it is that I didn't have any kind of lactose-negative response to it.

The population of 18th century San Gil is growing due to its increasing popularity as the "extreme adventure" sports capital of Colombia. If white water rafting or bungee jumping or thrills of similar nature appeal to you, make the trip here.

Very similar in feeling to the central plaza in St. Augustine, Florida, the Parque La Libertad in San Gil across from this cathedral is a reminder of the influence of the Spanish Conquistadors and the Catholic Church's conversion of the natives. In fact, some of the buildings are so much like those in St. Augustine that I felt curiously "at home" here.

We headed on to Barichara and after a quick stop we were at the campo/finca.... more on that another day. This is the countryside where I am now situated... more pictures and stories to come. And that includes a few horse shots for Jey-hu's daughter to prove they have them here!

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