Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Villa de Leyva

Villa de Leyva Cathedral in the Plaza Mayor

We decided to spend a couple of days in Villa de Leyva, which is meant to be the most beautiful colonial town in Colombia. Set in the lower Andes, at a similar altitude to Bogota, it has been preserved beautifully, with no modern buildings to disturb the white-washed, low rise houses and cobbled streets.

One of the little side streets, with David walking down the street all moody in black

The town is stunning, yet for all its beauty, the only thing I could think about was how barren the landscape was when we were arriving there. As we were getting closer to it the landscape becomes almost lunar. Pastures turn to semi-desert, and hills are depleted of all life.

View from the Plaza Mayor, the hills barren of all vegetation

The huge plaza, in the middle of the town, is a great place to have a few beers and enjoy the sunset. The town has been used as the setting for an El Zorro telenovela.

Panoramic of the Plaza, double click on the pic to enlarge

For all its charms, sometimes I feel that travel guides set your expectations too high. This is not the fairy tale land that The Lonely Planet or Bradt make you believe you will find. It is a pretty little town, worth visiting, but not much more than that.

The last few days have been early risers, and today has been no exception, getting up at 6am and enjoying the morning light. Walking around the town we've been followed by a dog that has adopted us since yesterday. He would stand outside every church we went in, every shop.

David and our little friend that followed us for two days

On our way back from Villa de Leyva we stopped in a town called Tunja, famous for its beautiful colonial churches. However, the thing that stuck with me the most were the pig's heads in the market.

Tomorrow we'll be off to the Caribbean, time to enjoy the beach and hopefully to refamiliarise myself with my new hobby...surf!!!