Boyacá: In the heart of the colonial country.

Trip Start Jan 01, 2006
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Colombia  ,
Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Traveling through Latin America, for a person who wasn't born here, must seem incredibly surprising for, even though the sights are so varied, some things seem the same.... Every city, every town is full of churches. All the colonial houses and buildings, with a few differences here and there in windows, doors, balconies and courtyards, due to reasons like weather or location, in the end look alike.  It must feel really bizarre to walk in an entirely different town, amongst completely different people, but still feel you're seeing a variation of the same tune.  Well, it is true... and like all the countries of the area, we too have cities that date to colonial times, that even if they resemble a lot of the other ones, stand out on their own... Welcome to Boyacá, the department of Colombia full of all sorts of colonial towns, of all sizes, colors and shapes.

First off you have Tunja, which rivalled Popayán for the place of most important city after Bogotá in the times of the New Granada. A devoutly religious city, the city where most of the wooden and sacred works of the country were made, the city where archbishops and viceroys went to collect their treasures... Today it is nothing more than a second-tier city, in that very vague spot of not being modern but not being old either... which results in general in a colection of ugly, tasteless, styleless buildings. But next to them, in between them, behind them lie a lot of the churches and houses that haven't lost any of their splendor, but have just been hidden away from the eye.   And even better still is walking into them, to gaze at their fantastic ceilings full of woodworks, of saints and virgins and lambs and dragons.... The iconography we have from religion is hard to match....  And, as everywhere here, fruit vendors can be counted by the hundreds... with their carts full of uchuvas, chirimoyas, mamoncillos and pomarrosas.   

And only an hour away lies Villa de Leyva... a small town of completely whitewashed houses, located in a desert (even though it's 2800 meters above sea level) and nested in between the mountains...  A town where dogs roam freely with no owners, and walk up to the tourists looking for some company and affection... A town that fills itself with hoards of families and kites from the city during weekends, but that rests completely undisturbed during the week..    A town where, once again, the average of churches per person is probably just 10. A town where everything in every store, from the liquor to the ice cream, is made of an oval-shaped green fruit called feijoa.  

And there are more... Ráquira, Monguí, Chiquinquirá, Cucunubá... some other time.
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