Friday, 24 October 2014

0124 Villa de Leyva to Zipaquira

Wed 22nd Oct. 

Last night I was trying to get my blog up to date, but in the evening the internet got so slow I gave up.  So when I woke up just before 6 am I decided to have another go, sitting out in the morning sun.  But unfortunately it was no better, so all I could do was write the blog in word so that when I do finally get some time and some wifi, I can upload the pics and blog fairly quickly.

By about 9.30 I was up to date, and we started to pack  up – We were heading to Zipaquira today – Only about 140 kms away, but as we are learning, 140 kms over here can sometimes take a long time !   We went into VdeL first for another visit to the bank that worked, and while there just had to drop in to a bakery and a coffee shop !  Then on the way out of town we spied a roast chicken shop, so despite heavy rain, Janet ran in and bought one – Which then smelt out the car for the whole of the day !  Basically it was raining before we left V de Layva, and it rained for most of the day, often very hard.  We had decided to try the back roads to Zipaquira, and they were not too bad – Very windy as usual, but also some amazing sights.  All day we were between 2500 – 3200 metres, so when you see views across valleys in the photos, the valleys would have been at 2500 metres or higher. Of course there were the usual roadworks and delays, and the rain slowed everything down, but it wasn’t too bad.

We meandered through Sutamarchan and on through dairy country (even saw a farmer taking his two milk churns t town on horseback !) to Chiquinquira where we bought diesel in the middle of an enormous thunderstorm - We are going back roads around Bogata for the next couple of days so I wanted to make sure we had fuel for any eventuality. In Chiquinquira the streets are lined with curious trees that have a distinct blue tinge – Never seen them before. Fairly drab buildings otherwise, except for a yellow and white mansion that must have been the Town Hall or something. The railway goes through there, so maybe this was the railway station ? 

From there it was on south through the very rural and high altitude country side, passing school children on their way home from school in the rain, who waved to us as we passed.   We started to see Dairy Produce shops along the road, and we stopped at one thinking we could by some plain natural yogurt for Janet  - No such luck – All the yogurt was flavoured and sweetened – A shame.  On through the countryside, nothing like either of us expected central Columbia to look like !  One area had baskets for sale everywhere and was obviously a read and weaving area, then we went around Ubate which had horrible new bare brick buildings everywhere – But right in the middle of these monstrosities was an enormous and very fancy church – Quite bizarre to see the contrast.  Then we passed through a cheese (queso) area, and there were lots of shops selling fresh local cheeses –  not something we have taken a liking to, partly in fear of how our stomachs might react !

After that we went through an area outside Tunja of coal mining and then coal fired brick factories – Dozens of them, some small, some enormous, and all belching out black smoke and the acrid smell of coal fired ovens for the bricks, and smoking kilns.  Not a very picturesque area at all.  Then shortly after that ugliness, we turned off the highway onto a tiny and scenic lane that wove for several kms into the hills – through little villages, past bright yellow cottages built on enormous rocks, past ugly new brick houses, and past lots of restaurants selling “Trucha” – Trout (One of my favourites !).  We were looking for a National Park and Lake which I had found out about on the
internet, but all I had was the co-ordinates so we were travelling a bit blind and not sure where we were headed ! So we asked the way a few times, and always seemed to be told “7 kms further” !!  Eventually we came out on the dam of Lake Neusa, and a National Park that offered camping.  We looked around for a while, and there seemed to be lots of Army and Police around -  Down here that’s a good sign
as one should be pretty safe with them around !  Eventually we entered the park, and once again found that being over 60 meant free entry !  This is better than the US and Canada where age benefits only apply to locals – Down here, as long as you are over 60, prices are much cheaper, or even non existent !  So off we went down this ever narrowing dirt road, and I might add that by this time we have climbed to 3000 metres again, so it is quite cool !  Gorse and fox gloves beside the track brought back memories of the trail above Stoke Beach in Devon, where we had a caravan when I was young. The trail was through pine forests which were undergoing selected logging, so the trail was quite rough, and we started to wonder where we were going !  We saw a couple of signs to camp sites down by the lake, but they looked a bit steep and boggy, so we kept going.  Suddenly there were Columbian Army everywhere !!!! They were on manoeuvres, all dressed in fatigues and armed with rifles, and were every where along the road, and we were in the middle of them !!  Not knowing what else to do,  we waved and smiled at them tentatively – And they all waved back and smiled !! Once through them, we carried on a little further and found a clearing around a restaurant that was closed, and were about to park there for the night when 3 soldiers came round the corner, and one of them seemed to be the Captain or General or whatever, introduced himself as
Rodriquez (it was written on his uniform !!) and suggested we go a little further up the track and we wold find a beautiful open space beside the Lake.  So we did, and found this magnificent open area right beside the lake, with places and wood for a camp fire, ducks on the lake, and lots of white herons sitting in trees over on an island, roosting for the night (or whatever herons do !). 3000 metres, total isolation (apart from previously mentioned Columbian Army personnel !), temp of about 5 deg C – Absolutely stunning, and very special.  Janet lit the fire (with a single match, she boasted !) while I set up the van, and as dusk came we sat around the fire with a beer before having supper of the roast chicken we had bought on leaving V de L that morning, and which had stunk the car out all day !!  It was delicious, and we turned in, climbing into our cold climate sleeping bags last used in Alaska, and we warm as toast while the temps fell to close to zero during the night. Now THAT is what I call camping !!
Pics are here - To be annotated later !!

No comments:

Post a Comment