A Country Stroll

Trip Start Oct 10, 2006
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Colombia  ,
Sunday, April 15, 2007

I arrived into this moutain town yesterday after a six hour bus ride that was meant to be four. I pulled out my camera to take some pictures of this beauitful 16th century town - I´ve been a little trigger happy with the camera since I bought a new one in Panama, my first since Guatemala - and when I turned it on I only received the devestating message of ´card ERROR´, the capital letters on the screen I assume meant to emphasis the gravity of the situation. I was missing great photo ops in Villa de Leyva, but was more worried about the novel of pictures I had taken since arriving to Colombia, the only proof I have of my six months of travel. I was a little stressed and fed up with it all when I went to bed last night.

But today was one of those peaceful travel days that makes everything right again. I awoke early, as the mist from a noctural rain was casting an eerie feel on the ancient town. I decided a hike was in order so I set out beyond the town limits. My ankles were grateful for the relative consistency of the dirt roads compared to the elevated stones of the old town. The night before I had found solice watching people navigate these streets, trying to guess whether it was the rustic stones or the alcohol that was causing they´re unsteadiness.

As I wandered further into the farmland my troubles took a wrong turn. The smell of natural growth was a welcome change from the suffocation of diesel fumes to which I have become accoustomed. The laziest of roosters reminded me of mid morning, and every direction I turned was the lush greenery of the surrounding mountains. The billowing white clouds above held just enough grey to remind me of the fragility of such a beautiful mountian day. The silence around, complemented by the chirpping of the many endemic birds, was occassionaly interuppted by the distant sound of Colombian accordians from the open windows of white wash farm houses with their rust coloured terracotta rooves. I was treated to a great feeling of tranquility; the sense that I was among a small group of gringo´s to have discovered the area left my wanderlust temporarily satisfied.

My destination today was an archealogical site known as El Infierno. I knew very little about it before arriving except that it belonged to the Muisca people, an indigenous group that inhabited the area in the century before Christ; among others, they had believed strongly in a fertility God. Still, I was not prepared for what that apparently meant....a field of penises. Like some phallic expression of Stonehenge, the site seemed oddly appropriate to Colombian vigour. This was, quite simply, a farmers field scattered with giant stone penises, erect of course. I laughed outloud as I awkwardly wandered among the imposing statues, some of which reached a heigh of 15 feet, a lofty goal for even the most well-endowed.

But there is nothing like a walk in the country and a field of penises to calm all worries and I now feel completely refreshed.
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