Micah: Unmitigated

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Posts Tagged ‘Villa De Leyva’

Walk Hard

Wednesday, April 28th, 2010

It´s time to get into shape. I have begun the part of my trip that I have been looking forward to most: Hiking in the hills. There are many foot powered journeys in Colombia, some can be done in one day while others are long, guided affairs.  I plan to tackle all of the one-dayers that I can, and that begins here in Villa De Leyva.

This place is quiet and scenic. The cobblestone square is very cool and the streets are safe to walk at night. More of a getaway for Colombian tourists to shop and spend the weekend. I love the way the orangish street lights illuminate the stones in the road, as you will see in the picture below.

Villa De Leyva at night

Villa De Leyva at night

My first jaunt took just less than an hour to summit and rewarded me with some nice city views and a white Jesus statue. A good conditioning hike. The next day I attempted a longer expedition, one which required a stop at an out of town guest house for directions. The regular trail was closed due to a recent fire, so they guided me to a nearby path up the hill. My feet were pressing down on mostly rock and clay, fairly vertical, with occasional animal land mines. No real summit to this one, the top was an entrance to a valley with scattered farms and cloud covered peaks on either side. I realized then that the path was the road for the locals into town, and on the way down I crossed paths with a woman walking her donkey back up. A little rain on the way up made the path slick for my decent, but the clouds parted and the views were bueno.

Thanks for the tripod

Thanks for the tripod

After having my first set menu lunch on Tuesday, I rented an expensive bicycle to extend my range, and got to see some average things. Without studying the map close enough, I was unable to find the waterfall I was searching for. Legs got tired and I decided to turn back. I did enjoy the ability to get out of town and see some of the surrounding villages. On a trip like that, I tend to tell myself that at least I will be a stronger/better man because of it.

I am now in San Gil, the “The extreme sports capital of Colombia”. The bus ride was rough and not cheap, but I was able to partake in conversation with a young Canadian man who is on a similiar journey. My accommodations are both the cheapest and most luxurious I have come upon, so I may extend my stay. There are a few sights in town, but I plan to do a day trip tomorrow to Barichara for a local trek.  As I am writing, it is absolutely pouring down rain and the street looks like a river. The same happened in the last town, but this is what I get for coming during the wet season. Makes me want to get to the Caribbean coast even sooner.

A few notes and numbers at the 1 week mark: My daily spending is a little high right now, I estimate that I am currently on a $30/day pace. Partly hurt by the bad exchange rate, also the cheapest accommodations have all been over $10/night. Tonight´s hostel is down to $8 and dinner was only about $2, so those are good reasons to stick around. My goal is to be under $20/day and possibly lower if I get some farming in. At the present photo rate, I will top the 9,000 picture mark. I imagine that may go down as I linger more in places, but the beach sunsets are still on the horizon.

The past few days and adventures have reinforced a theme for my trip: “It´s the journey, not the destination.” My brief excursions of the past 3 days, had no real finish lines. My travels will end at some point, but they will not reach a known climax and hopefully neither a nadir. It is going to be a long, exciting, hard walk, but I intend to walk hard. Buenos Noches