Festival de las luces (lights!)

Trip Start Sep 19, 2009
Trip End May 19, 2010

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Where I stayed
Hospederia La Roca

Flag of Colombia  ,
Monday, December 7, 2009

After an early night in Bogota where our only aim was to find food (which, being a Sunday night was trickier than we had first thought), we headed early the Monday morning to Tunja, 3 hours north - to then catch a minivan an hour further onto the small town of Villa de Leyva, all very easy.

We had found out that we this weekend was a Puente; as the 8th December is a holiday in Venezuela(the day of immaculate conception), the Monday becomes a holiday too. However, it was also the weekend of this town's festival de las luces, or festival of lights. Monday was the last day of the festival, so we had chosen our day well, although this did also mean that accommodation was not cheap that night!

The village was very cute, with cobbly streets, old style buildings and a huge main square, apparently it has been awarded a UNESCO heritage status, and is not allowed to be modernized in any way. We found a gem of a restaurant for lunch, that used a cunning selling technique of giving free meat from this huge oven at the front of the restaurant. One mouthful, and we were sold; the meat was out of this world, and we happily ate our way through a large plate of it. We took a stroll in the afternoon and then rested in anticipation for the festivities of the evening.

Villa de Leyva at nighttime was even prettier, everyone was out roaming the streets, lights decorated every corner, and there were many shops and restaurants open. People were starting to gather at the square in groups, lighting candles on the ground beside them, and there were a few shows of music and dancing on a stage in the main square. We were staying in a hostel actually on the square, and they had a balcony overlooking it - so we bought some wine, grabbed some chairs and set up camp from there to watch the show and the fireworks. However, when the fireworks started, we realized we had to rush down to street level as they were being set off behind our hostel! The show was fantastic, if a little dangerous as firework remains and huge sparks came falling to the ground into the crowds afterwards - we almost got hit many times and watched in fear for others! It seemed more kids were crying than enjoying the show as the fireworks were pretty loud, but we thoroughly enjoyed it. They also had some contraptions set up in the main square, which when they were lit set off more fireworks (which seemed to go horizontal – safety obviously not an issue here!) and one even unraveled a Colombian flag, very clever! After the fireworks, some woman came on singing, and we had a wander around the still lively streets, spilling out from the bars around the square.
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