Bogota, Puerto de Peidra, Villa de Layba Subochoque and the wedding

Bogota Travel Blog

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It is mid morning in Colombia the sun warms my back.  Where should I begin describing the last two days?

Colombia is a beautiful country.  I am sitting in the warm sunshine at Rafas fathers house about an hour out of Bogota.  It is a lovely house, painted in vibrant bright colours.  It has beautifuly kept pretty gardens.  I have a nice Colombian cup of coffee. A young puppy greats me and proceeds to try and knaw lightly on my fingers.  I am surrounded by beautiful countryside and mountains without snow.  It is not unlike the Wairarapa except for the numerous eucalyptus trees, like blue gums.  Most Colombians seem to keep Fresian cows and a sheep or two around here.

Don Rafa, Rafas fathers house.

I arrived at Bogota airport two days ago without any dramas. I was picked up and taken to our little apartment in Bogota city.  Bogota is a chaotic city, built mostly of orange bricks which are made by the people outside of thecity in big brick kilns.  Traffic in Bogota is phenomonal.  There aren´t many road rules and it is amazing the taxi drivers can get anywhere without crashing, but they manage it.  No one seems to car much about the road rules if there are any and they dont wear seatbelts.  The diesel smog is acrid because the fuel here is of a lower quality and burns dirty.  Bogtga is surrounded by the haze created by motor vehicle exhaust and millsions of cars, buses and trucks.  No doubt it is not much better or worse than any other city of 10 million people.

Don Rafa, Rafas fathers house.
 

My head is slowly clearing from the last night´s intake of Aguadiente, or ´firewater´, which is a clear spirit, around 25% alcohol with a strong aniseed flavour.  Its made from sugar cane. 

The apartment we stayed in was basic but comfortable in the poorer, southern end of Bogota city.  There is no delination between commercial and resiential ares. People  simply convert the front of their houses into a shop of some sort.  I was greatful for a double bed and shower after the long flight.  It was good to catch up with Rafa, Sam and Jared, aka, Angry.  Also at the house were numerous members of the wedding party. Both friends and family of Karen and Rafa, from a mixture of nationalities.  American, Australian, Scottish, British and us three kiwi boys.

Rafas nephew
  It has been a difficult logistical nightmare for Rafa to organise these people and to field everyones incessant questions.  For our part, Sam, Angry and I (later we became four as Tony the striney aussie from Brisbane joined us in true Anzac fashion) have played a bit of guitar and contented ourselves with the local beer, leaving the other English wedding guests to Rafa. 

On the 5th of March we all went on a bus trip to Villa de Layba.  This is trip was my first taste of South American time estimates.  The bus driver (Fernando) said it would take 2 hours to get there from Bogota.  It took four. We have since learned that is is safe to double every estimate of time here.  The bus journey was pretty and took us through some nice Colombian countryside and through a number of Colombian towns.

Don Rafa, Rafas fathers house.
 

Colombian towns are the most eclectic mismatch I have ever seen.  There seems to be an unfinished construction site everywhere and ones that look as if the project ceased long ago. Some places resemble second hand junk yards.  They are a mismatch of disorder.  Mario would hate it. Life for the working classes and poor in Colombia is hard and seems to involve a long day holding the end of a jackhammer.

Villa de Layba is a beutiful preserved Spanish Colonial town built around 1580.  Here the brick buidings have been plastered white.  The streets are cobbled stone, the buildings in old Spanish style. 

Sam, Angry and I had walked no further than 100 metres down the street with our guitars before three old gents (well Berrachos, meaning drunks) called out to us to play for them.

Raqueira, Colombia
  After a couple of sideways glances at eac other we elected to do so.  After purchasing a few Aguila, one of the brands of local beer here, for 1100 pesos each (about $0.80c NZ) Angry, Sam and I settled n to play on the street for them.  It drew quite a bit of attention as Sam and Angy played the Mariache song for them in Spanish. One of the old boys repeatedly informed us that he loved Villa de Laba and we all had to agree.

On return to Bogota we got straigh on the party bus.  This is an old school Bedford type bus painted in bright colours and fitted with disco lights and a stereo to blast some Latino music.  The sides of the bus are open with a couple of chains strung accross to stop people from falling off. We drank many shots of Aguadiente and drove around central Bogota which is as upmarket as any city at home, then up for a view over the city.

Sammy playing guitar in the sunshine
  As with  night city views over many cities, a young couple had driving to the top of the hill for some romantic sex in the back of the toyota, much to our Aguadiente fueled amusement.

Something has to be said about the Colombian girls also.  On the whole they are absolutely stunning and have some of the best figures I have seen, which they somehow manage to squeeze into ridiculously tight blue jeans.  Sam, Angry and I cannot help but watch them on the street. This is but one of many of the beautiful things I have seen in Colombia. 

Yesterday was a day of little but waiting aroun or Rafa to organise the English for the wedding. Late in the day we went into Bogota to have suits hired and were welcomed by yet another gorgeous colombian girl and a very well dressed and groomed young Colombian bloke.

Raqueira, Colombia
  His dad owned the shop. Fortunately for us he had lived in Canada for some time and spoke Ingelse well.

We then made the journey out to where the wedding guests are staying and where I currently am at Don Rafas place. The English and their stacks and stacks of suitcases and luggage went by bus (about a tonne I reckon). The Anzacs and Rafa followed along behind in Rafas old 1970s BMW with a total of 25kgs of luggage between us.  The accellerator kept getting stuck on the floor.

For a time we lost the bus and stopped in a small Colombian town named Subochoque.  We pulled up in the dark outside one of the local establishments. Rafa in true Colombian style, turn to us and casually asked ´hey boys, can I borrow two and a half million pesos?´.

Raqueira, Colombia
  As we sat in the dark in the BMW, looking forlornley at our wallets bulging with monopoly money, and counting out 500,000 each in 20,000 peso notes, we felt a bit like Colombian drug lords about to do a deal.  It was actually to fund our trip to the coffee lands, as Rafa had exceeded his withdrawl limit for the day.

Later we caught up with the bus as it had got stuck in the trees. The bus driver tried to negotitate the smallest gravel country road in the biggest largest bus to carry the 17 people who formed Karens family group for the wedding (the English and their luggage).  The bus could go no further, so we had to unload and carry and ferry the tonne of baggage about 500 metres up to the house in the dark, but on arrival we were pleasantly suprised by a beautiful Spanish country homestead, with a large hot open fireplace and a team of servants who happily put what seemed like whole pine tree logs on the fire.

Raqueira, Colombia
  Bogota is 3000 metres above sea level and it is cool at night.  We soon settled in to a warm glass of vino blanco and made ourselves comfortable, before being treated to an amazing troop of Mariaches who sang and played for us, and in particular for Karen and Rafa.  Truely talented violin, trumpet and spanish guitarists and singers.  I feel very very fortunate to have met these friends in New Zealand and to be able to be in Colombia.  There are so many new experiences it is difficult to describe them all.

Tonight it is the wedding!

 

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Don Rafa, Rafas fathers house.
Don Rafa, Rafas fathers house.
Don Rafa, Rafas fathers house.
Don Rafa, Rafas fathers house.
Rafas nephew
Rafas nephew
Don Rafa, Rafas fathers house.
Don Rafa, Rafas fathers house.
Raqueira, Colombia
Raqueira, Colombia
Sammy playing guitar in the sunshi…
Sammy playing guitar in the sunsh…
Raqueira, Colombia
Raqueira, Colombia
Raqueira, Colombia
Raqueira, Colombia
Raqueira, Colombia
Raqueira, Colombia
Sam and Rafa
Sam and Rafa
Villa de Laiva
Villa de Laiva
Berrachos, Villa de Laiva, old dru…
Berrachos, Villa de Laiva, old dr…
Villa de Laiva
Villa de Laiva
Berrachos, Villa de Layba, old dru…
Berrachos, Villa de Layba, old dr…
Villa de Laiva
Villa de Laiva
Villa de Laiva
Villa de Laiva
Villa de Laiva
Villa de Laiva
Off the party bus -  Bogota, Larry…
Off the party bus - Bogota, Larr…
Party bus
Party bus
Karen and Rafa
Karen and Rafa
Looking over Bogota by night.
Looking over Bogota by night.
Party bus, Bogota - get on, press …
Party bus, Bogota - get on, press…
Don Rafa, Rafas fathers house.
Don Rafa, Rafas fathers house.
Bogota
photo by: caliphil007