With only half a day of driving today we managed to fit in a morning walking tour around Villa de Leyva with Manuel. We told him about yesterday evening’s exploits with the trucking difficulties. He said that he’d already heard. It must have been news in town!
As nice as Manuel and Villa de Leyva were, there’s probably not two hours worth of material to see. There was still some interesting stuff though. Villa de Leyva has its own micro-climate. Manuel told us how many micro-climates there are in Colombia and while I can’t remember the exact figure, it’s a lot. That explained why the weather has been all over the place as we’ve moved around. Walking around the cobbled streets was a pleasant way to spend a morning. Often colonial towns have a nice centre but are surrounded by ugly and sometimes rundown buildings. Villa de Leyva seemed to contain largely unspoiled architecture, with the majority of the town having an authentic colonial feel. A lot of people apparently visit during weekends and holidays from nearby Bogata. Manuel explained that it’s also a popular retirement destination. With the ever-increasing elderly population struggling to walk along the cobbled streets, flat pavements are currently being installed. We finished up in Villa de Leyva’s huge main square, the biggest in Colombia. While it was a nice focal point in the city, the plaza looked a bit strange as the only thing in it was a small fountain. If this was Europe there would inevitably be a huge statue of someone and loads of tables and chairs that belonged to some pricey cafes.
We had a couple of hold-ups on the road and arrived at the campsite in San Gil just after dusk. There was another Dragoman group also staying there who were travelling in the opposite direction, towards Patagonia. They’d already bagged the upgrades to hostel accommodation so we had little choice but to camp. We were given a tour of the facilities including the fully booked ecolodge hostel, a compost toilet and an open-air (or air-conditioned as the brochure would say) solar-powered shower. The new age vibe was cemented with the vegan Indian meal that was served. It was quite tasty, although to be honest, I wouldn’t have minded swapping the peanut korma for a chicken madras. With no travelling tomorrow it was nice to have a few bevvies and not worry about setting an alarm clock.