Colonial Christmas by CG

Trip Start Nov 08, 2010
Trip End Mar 06, 2012

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Where I stayed
Tinto Hostal

Flag of Colombia  , Santander,
Sunday, December 25, 2011

On Christmas eve we pushed on, for an enjoyable 5 hour drive past another national park and stunning countryside of green hills and idyllic farms, to more tropical surrounds and through unknown colonial towns to reach Barichara, our Christmas destination. Right away it blew me away and has moved into my first place as the most beautiful village in South America.

For me, Barichara was like Colombia’s Widecombe in the Moor, only bigger, whiter and a whole lot warmer. Cute white colonial houses, with their individually coloured doors and tiled roofs lined the cobbled streets which centred on a beautiful cathedral. People hung around the streets outside their doors, chatting and sipping cold beers waiting for something interesting to happen. One edge of the town looked out over stupendous views down a valley and the setting sun. The climate was perfect, hot sunny days and slightly cooler evenings, still warm enough to go out in a dress. Crickets buzzed and frogs croaked. Ancient little doors opened on interesting shops and nice restaurants. Quite possibly the loveliest place to spend Christmas imaginable.

On Christmas Eve the local nuns and villagers created a nativity scene, using a real donkey, a real baby and actually knocked on the doors of local inns to see if there was room. Slightly detracting from reality was the 4WD following with a bad sound system that their microphones were hooked up to. They sang Christmas carols in Spanish and went for a late night mass. All of the community and their families were out to enjoy the evening.

I admit that I then went for a sleep for a few hours to ensure that I would be awake for the party in the plaza. There was a stage and sound system set up but locals didn’t start appearing til around midnight, once their family meals had been enjoyed. We got a few drinks from the shop alongside and sat by the plaza to take it all in.

The music was not what we’d hoped for. There was a family doing the DJing, a 13 year old on the decks, his Dad the MC, and younger brother there for the street cred. They played the odd salsa track which we got up to dance to but in general the music was modern and mostly cumbia. Our London friends John and Anna spotted us, so it was a welcome relief to chat and drink with them for the rest of the evening and we finally turned in at 2.30am, a recent record for me, as I normally don’t make it past 11pm.


Christmas morning, as our families know, was spent skyping and chatting to them all online and to Saar and his family too. Unfortunately we missed chatting to Pete, Beck and Ella as we were on another call at the time. We grabbed some local tamales for lunch and headed out to enjoy the afternoon sun at the local public swimming baths. I didn’t think it would be open on Xmas day but it was and it seems several others had the same idea as us. The pool was outdoor and people were sat around drinking beers by the poolside and cooling off in the pool. Perfect.

After a few very enjoyable and relaxing hours of this, we met John and Anna for a sunset stroll and a few beers. As the evening light dimmed we ducked into a quaint little pizza restaurant and had the most delicious pizza ever. Yip, it was even better than the one in Villa de Leyva. It had been a lovely Christmas day, quite different and relaxing compared to any in Britain. No presents or cards were exchanged, no crappy TV was watched and no charades played. We did miss the food and the people we love, but it has made us really look forward to spending the next few Christmases with our families and our new addition to the clan.

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