A couple of months ago, I took a whirlwind one-week trip through three regions in Colombia. While I fell in love with the country, there was one place that I felt needed to be the highlight of a return trip. And here I sit, in the Bogotá airport, having just spent about six days in that exact place: Villa de Leyva.
One of the things I hate about quick trips is that there’s no time to let a place get into my pores. One might argue that even a week is too short, and I’d agree with that. I did what I could with the time I had, and who knows, there may be future trips there if the universe pushes me in that direction. But, like many things, I’m playing it by ear.
An important focus during my recent trip was having the time to relax and enjoy Villa de Leyva. I wandered down streets, slowing my steps from my usual city pace. I watched how the town changed from morning to noon to night, and how the mountain light brought out the beauty in the buildings, cobblestones and surrounding countryside. I discovered new tastes (for me), and now have cravings for Colombian food and am carrying bottles of rum and aguardiente in my suitcase.
I spent countless hours in the vast plaza, watching people come and go, listening to shouts from nearby bars during the Colombia v. Bolivia soccer match, seeing (and hearing) fireworks every day and night as a festival approached, and witnessing the slow growth of tents and carnival rides for the festival. Strangely enough, I missed the festival itself, having had no idea about it during the planning of my trip—and my departure date hit one day before the start.
One of my most-valued experiences on this trip, however, was a motorcycle ride out to Moniquirá and Arcabuco. As a passenger, I got to enjoy looking up at rich green canyons as we sped through them and had attractions pointed out to me on the way. That afternoon sits suspended in time in my mind. It may be one of the best travel experiences I’ve had in a while. And that’s saying something.
There’s no way I would have had such an incredible trip without the help of guide extraordinaire, Jorge Galvis. I can’t thank you enough. Next time, please don’t save the aguardiente for the last night.