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village people

The morning is normally all mine when I wake up in a tent but this camp site is a little exposed and, in the light of day, visible from the road. I pack and organise my gear and lug my things up the hill, push the bike under the barbed wire and climb over the locked gate. Only then do I sit down to make a cup of coffee, on the respectable side of the fence.

As the water starts to boil, two boys arrive on horses. They bid me good morning politely and ask no questions. I offer to move out of way of the gate but one of boys points out that it is locked and so he will have to go under the fence. He has salt for the cows. The other lad watches me with curbed curiousity. When the boy with the salt returns, he slides carefully under the thorny wire, and then they leave, riding off in opposite directions.

Coffee and porridge done, I, too, go my way.

A flaming tree.

The road rolls, up...

... and down. Being in the mountains means there is no lack of fresh water. It makes a nice change from the muddy waterways of the lowlands.

Villages and houses all seem to sit on mountain tops here in Colombia. Pueblo Rico is a village of no particular distinction but a woman I met walking on the road insists that I must go...

... to visit her son, Rumba, who is a jeweller. I was supposed to be a jeweller, once upon a time, so I am intrigued.

His set up is simple but adequate.

The polishing wheel is the only machine you need, really.

Rumba is justfinishing a gold and semi-precious stone rosary, on commission, for a friend's 40th birthday.

It's an expensive piece - over 1 000 000 pesos (round about US$600) worth of gold.

A younger brother takes me for a tour of the village...

... and up the hill to check it out from above.

Of course, I end up being fed and staying for the night with Marialena and her sons. It is all I can do to get away the next day. If fact, I’d probably still be there if they had their way.

Colombian hospitality still astounds me. It seems that people are all trying, desperately, to undo the poor impression they feel that the decades of conflict have created in the minds of foreigners about their country. Almost everybody I meet asks how Colombia seems to me – and how Colombia is viewed, more generally, by outsiders.

The road out of Pueblo Rico climbs again...

... through... plantations. Coffee likes altitude.

It's a beautiful road and despite the heavy rainfall overnight and persistent rain during the day the surface is good.

I drop down into San Jose...

... where boys gather around my bike while I have a cup of coffee.

It's all down hill...

... to the river, which is looking pretty fast right here.

Eventually I pop out onto a couple of kilometres of cobble stones - pretty but murderous - and then another stretch of pavement, that remains unrecorded, to a sizable town called Andes.

In Andes, while I'm trying to take a photo that does justice to this incredible monument to the ecstasy of motoring...

...another crowd of boys, and men, gathers around my bike to question me at length about various matters of interest to them.

I remain distracted by the statue. It is entirely unclear to me whether the monument is trying to encourage safe driving or advocating cars as the speediest way to heaven. The rapture definitely seems to be involved, one way or another.


{ 6 } Comments

  1. Cesca | February 8, 2013 at 5:55 am | Permalink

    The mountainous parts of Colombia look beautiful, and lovely to see that people have been so warm and hospitable to you.

  2. Mark_BC | February 9, 2013 at 5:06 am | Permalink

    Ahh, cool, I didn’t realize you were back up and at it heading through Colombia. You say you left your bird ID book for weight savings. So did I, and I wished I had something there. I searched for “The Birds of Colombia” in Medellin but apparently you can’t actually buy it in Colombia. I bought it when I got home so if you have a bird you want ID’d post a photo and I can look it up. If you go through Villa de Leyva (North of Tunja) Oscar at Colombian Highlands does eco-tours and has a copy. But you seem to be going south through Antioquia so I guess you’re going to bypass Bogota.

  3. mauro | February 12, 2013 at 1:41 am | Permalink

    la zona cafetera de Colombia, tiene infinidad de hermosos paisajes… es de lo mejor de Colombia!!!

  4. mauro | February 12, 2013 at 1:43 am | Permalink

    venir a Colombia y no visitar zona cafetera, es como no venir ;) jejejej……

  5. Peter Blume | February 12, 2013 at 8:39 pm | Permalink

    I have had the same experience. That so many Colombians are concerned that their country’s image is still being stained by the past.
    Ride well!

  6. Will Kemp | April 13, 2013 at 8:44 am | Permalink

    It seems like a lifetime ago when you were a jeweller, Anna!

    That statue looks like the car’s being washed away in a flood.

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