Outskirts of Bogota -- working and playing
Trip Start Jul 05, 2005
47Trip End ??? ??, 2006
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The next morning, I woke up around six in the morning. I opened the door to my balcony which overlooked Sochagota lake and was completely overwhelmed by the beauty of the lake and
it's surroundings. The lake looked like an enormous mirror, touched by cotton balls of fog and surrounded by lush greenery where horses were quietly feeding (see pictures). I stood there in awe and felt completely peaceful. There wasn't anything that could affect my mood after witnessing such beauty. Once again, I felt extremely lucky to be in Colombia. I got dressed and headed to the room where the conference was going to begin at 8 am.
Unfortunately, the conference room was not what we expected. The hotel staff had double booked the main conference room which held 200 people and decided to convert the gym into our conference room. Shockingly, I did not freak out and no heads rolled (I know you're all in shock as you read this :-))
That night all of the instructors and I went out for dinner (Lucho too, of course). Two other Colombian instructor prosecutors, Nestor and Leo met us at the Sochagota hotel. Nestor and Leo are part of a commission that was formed to assist us with training. Both Nestor and Leo are experienced prosecutors who have learned the new Colombian Criminal Code (CCC) completely and have been trained by us in trial advocacy. They are two of six on the commission. Paipa, the town we were in, didn't have much too offer in the way of food. Believe it or not, though, we found Pizza and it smelled good, so we decided to try it. It wasn't bad and the entire meal for the 5 of us, including soft drinks was $US8. What a bargain!!!
As the week progressed, the prosecutors started to loosen up. The first week of our course is an intense introduction to the CCC
I moved to my new hotel, Hotel Paipa (4 minute drive) the second day. The Paipa Hotel was more my style. It wasn't a W, but it was pretty nice. The grounds were beautiful. My room at the Hotel Paipa also faced the lake, but the view from Sochagota was better. However, Hotel Paipa had a WHOLE lot more to offer. There were thermal jacuzzis, pools, a gym (yeah) and best of all, a SPA. I was in heaven. I didn't really explore until the second night I was there. After the course on Monday, we (the instructors and I) drove to Duitama, another small town about ½ from Paipa. Duitama was really, really small. There was a plaza, a church, some businesses. We went to a restaurant called San Miguel. It was located on a side street and we missed the first time we walked by. The restaurant was an old house that was converted into a restaurant. It was kind of Freida Khaloish in it's decor (see pictures). The food wasn't too good, but the restaurant made up for it. As we were having dinner, I learned that these very macho Colombian instructors had to get back to the hotel by 8:30 because they had to watch a soap opera! Can you imagine? Apparently, this new soap opera, Los Reyes (the kings) is the hottest thing
As the week progressed, I discovered more and more wonderful things about the area I was in and in particular, the Paipa Hotel. On Tuesday night, we drove to see "El Pantano de Vargas" ( Vargas' mud pit), which is actually a huge iron sculpture by Rodrigo Arenas Betancout. The sculpture honors a famous battle in the area fought between the Spanish and the Colombians. The sculpture depicts soldiers on horses getting ready to engage in battle (see picture). We barely saw the
sculpture because it was dark and it was not illuminated because the bulb were broken and there was no money to fix them. We ended up seeing the sculpture a few days later.
After our ride to Pantano, we headed back to our hotels. I was anxious to get there so I could jump into the thermal jacuzzi, I did just that and then headed to my chocolate massage, mud facial and some kind of funky hair treatment. It was fabu!!! It left my skin feeling soft and smooth. I slept like a baby that night.
The next day during lunch, I went horseback riding in the countryside
That night, we were invited to got to Villa de Leyva by another Colombian instructor, Maria Victoria and her sister, Martha (not on the commission, but helps us out). I didn't know Villa de Leyva was 1 ½ hours away, otherwise we would have gone another day. I am glad we went because Villa de Levya is a beautiful little town with a huge plaza (probably the biggest in Colombia) and the streets are cobblestone. People were all over the plaza that night, holding candles. There was a band and kids running around. There were fireworks. It was a party. It was the 60th anniversary of the local school. The entire community was out. Can you imagine that in the States? We had dinner at a great little restaurant called The Camealeon. The restaurant was adorable and the food excellent
I am in the car right now heading home (wow) to Bogota. I am happy to be heading home because tomorrow morning my belongings from home (DC) are arriving!! YAHOO! I am also going to get a beating from my trainer, I am sure. Sunday, two AUSAs are coming into town to help out with the second week of training. We are heading back to Paipa on Sunday afternoon for a week. Then, I'll be in Bogota for a week or so.
Interestingly, the travel hasn't bothered me much, but then again, it's kind of new. I'm trying to keep a positive outlook and appreciate where I am and the experience I am having. Hope you all come visit soon wo you can see what a great place this is!