• Friday , 22 September 2017
First Dance: Santander Region, Colombia

First Dance: Santander Region, Colombia

Colombia is no longer what you think it is. The drug wars and military conflict of the 1980s and 90s have been beaten back to a point that Colombia is now safe to visit in all but a few regions. For a long time camping was out of the question in Colombia but now we were able to blissfully camp our way south from the Caribbean.

It looks like a staged shot but in actuality we wanted to camp out in the grass field but a sudden thunder storm drove us under the bamboo to stay dry while we set up.

It looks like a staged shot but in actuality we wanted to camp out in the grass field but a sudden thunder storm drove us under the bamboo to stay dry while we set up.

Is Mike a hot head? Or, is he doing monster impressions for Shannon?

Is Mike a hot head? Or, is he doing monster impressions for Shannon?

What you don't see is that Shannon is washing off sticky sugar cane juice and Mike is washing the blood off after cutting himself with his pocket knife while procuring the sugar cane for Shannon.

What you don’t see is that Shannon is washing off sticky sugar cane juice and Mike is washing the blood off after cutting himself with his pocket knife while procuring the sugar cane for Shannon.

6am wake-up call provided by an entire work crew setting up for a party later that day. When we went to sleep we were the only ones in the camp area.

6am wake-up call provided by an entire work crew setting up for a party later that day. When we went to sleep we were the only ones in the camp area.

The stuff that dreams are made of; camping in Shangri-La.

The stuff that dreams are made of; camping in Shangri-La.

The long driveway to La Pacha campground mid-way between San Gil and Barichara.

The long driveway to La Pacha campground mid-way between San Gil and Barichara.

An abandoned bus has been re-purposed into a digital workspace with wifi and a flat screen TV at La Pacha.

An abandoned bus has been re-purposed into a digital workspace with wifi and a flat screen TV at La Pacha.

Mike hiked to the top of the hill hoping for a magic photo of the sunset. No dice.

Mike hiked to the top of the hill hoping for a magic photo of the sunset. No dice.

As long as you are not making money off your dog and trippin' balls then you can stay at this hostel.

As long as you are not making money off your dog and trippin’ balls then you can stay at this hostel.

One trait we really appreciate about Colombians is their “plaza culture”. In almost every town there is a common plaza, usually at the center of town, where the locals sit, sip a drink, and watch the world go by from tiny tables and straight back chairs. Some plazas are strictly a BYOB affair and folks get together and simply sit on steps to enjoy each others company, catch up on the gossip, and share a drink. This is so foreign to us as Americans, being civil and social with your fellow countryman but we think the Colombians have it right.

Central square in Barichara, Colombia.

Central square in Barichara, Colombia.

Juxtaposition of old and new. This four hundred year old adobe wall has been retrofitted with a brand new electrical panel.

Juxtaposition of old and new. This four-hundred year old adobe wall has been retrofitted with a brand new electrical panel.

The bread-mobile. He had the best meringue cookies to date.

The bread-mobile. He had the best meringue cookies to date.

Barichara, Colombia.

Barichara, Colombia.

Hiking on the historic El Camino Real between Barichara and Guane. This is an ancient stone road built by the Guane people centuries ago.

Hiking on the historic El Camino Real between Barichara and Guane. This is an ancient stone road built by the Guane people centuries ago.

Santa Lucia Iglesia built in 1720 in Guane, Colobmia.

Santa Lucia Iglesia built in 1720 in Guane, Colombia.

Plaza Mayor in Villa de Leyva is one of the largest town squares in the Americas measuring 120m by 120m. Every evening the plaza filled with locals chatting, having a beer or coffee, and feeding treats to all the dogs that hung around. We have never seen so many well-fed street dogs that also walked to the plaza each evening to hang out.

Plaza Mayor in Villa de Leyva is one of the largest town squares in the Americas measuring 120m by 120m. Every evening the plaza filled with locals chatting, having a beer or coffee, and feeding treats to all the dogs that hung around. We have never seen so many well-fed street dogs that also walked to the plaza each evening to hang out.

Plaza Mayor, Villa de Leyva, Colombia.

Plaza Mayor, Villa de Leyva, Colombia.

Plaza Mayor, Villa de Leyva, Colombia.

Plaza Mayor, Villa de Leyva, Colombia.

Plaza Mayor, Villa de Leyva, Colombia.

Plaza Mayor, Villa de Leyva, Colombia.

We have also increased our effort to do “touristy” activities like museums, hikes, and walking tours. These new activities, while having nothing to do with adventure motorcycling, are paying off and we are learning much more about the lands we pass through. One strange and wonderful discovery was finding a house in the Colombian countryside outside Villa de Leyva that was made entirely of terracotta. What looked kitschy and lame from a distance was a discovery that held us in awe. Check out the full slideshow.

Casa Terracota house (aka Flintstone house) is a strange oddity in the Colombian countryside. The entire structure is made of clay, bricks, and metal work. Everything is made onsite including a kiln for brick making.

Casa Terracota (aka Flintstone house) is a strange oddity in the Colombian countryside. The entire structure is made of clay, bricks, and metal work. Everything is made onsite including a kiln for brick making.

One of many happy dogs in Villa de Leyva. It is afternoon nap time in the middle of the street.

One of many happy dogs in Villa de Leyva. It is afternoon nap time in the middle of the street.

The variety of fruits in Colombia is staggering and one of our favorite's so far is called lulo.

The variety of fruits in Colombia is staggering and one of our favorite’s so far is called lulo.

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