A Tale of Two Cities

Trip Start Jan 11, 2012
Trip End Aug 09, 2012

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Flag of Colombia  ,
Friday, May 18, 2012

This is not a tale of two cities. That would be a severe insult to Charles Dickens. I have no idea what his book carrying the same title is about, but I'm led to believe that the plot is not dissimilar to what the title suggests. Just checked on Wikipedia, yes, it is indeed about 2 cities, London and Paris to be exact. Fair enough. His book is actually very high up on my list of books to read, particularly since it's now available for free on my shiny new Kindle that Edge hand delivered to me when we met up in Ecuador. He didn't pay for it though unfortunately. I was kind of hoping that he would, especially after he earned precious greenbacks in California for a few months, but apparently the South American bleed has also shown no mercy on his bank account, so I guess he's forgiven. Now let's get back to this tale not of two cities but rather of one crazy capital city called Bogota and one very uncrazy small town called Villa de Leyva. I just reread this introduction and it barely makes any sense to me. But I'm no Charles Dickens. Wish I was, his story about two cities has sold over 200 million copies, this version will be read by mom. Because she loves me. Here goes...

First up, the small city (town) of Villa de Leyva. Declared a national monument over 60 years ago, the town is considered to be a classic example of a colonial Colombian village, which made it a perfect destination for our last adventure with Nick and Ally before they got rid of us and headed to Peru. On arrival in Villa de Leyva, VdL from now on, we were immediately struck by the old school feel of the place, particularly due to the grand central square. It didn't seem like anything had been touched for years. Well that's because nothing had been touched for years, but regardless of the touching, it certainly made us all think about how our parents used to live. Well not quite, the town did have Internet, television and several cars. It also had a fantastic chicken and chips joint that would almost rival Nando's for sheer deliciousness. On arrival in town, before even searching for accommodation, we shot straight into the place and smashed some chicken, chips and muchas cervezas while having to endure watching Chelsea win the Champions League. What a way to ruin one's first impression of a town. The only consolation was that Warren Kelly (supports Chelsea, worships John Terry) wasn't around. And the chicken, can't forget that chicken.

So a mixed bag for first impressions but fortunately our fantastic fortunes fortified fastidiously. That makes no sense but it sure sounds good, no? Either way, our first impressions certainly skyrocketed after stumbling across an excellent hostel, appropriately named Colombian Highlands, located just outside of town. With a great view, peaceful surrounds, numerous hammocks and an awesome cat called Lynx, it was no surprise that we spent a good portion of our time relaxing at the place. We also spent one night playing that guess the name game that they played in the bar scene in Inglorious Basterds. Fortunately nobody was killed though. Our fortunes really were fabulous in VdL. When to finally finish favouring foul f words?

Our hostel was brilliant, but we still managed to venture out on several occasions. On one such occasion we attempted to summit a nearby mountain. Whether we had too many chiefs, cooks or chefs is irrelevant, ultimately we failed. And that's the foulest of all f words. Nick continues to blame me for my poor navigational skills, the girls blame both of us for not being better chefs and I blame Nick for being a pansy. The debate, reminiscent of the Mallory and Irvine Everest expedition, will rage on indefinitely, but at least we were able to see a decent waterfall and enjoy some great views of VdL. We were definitely on the correct path. Nick's a pansy.

Next activity was a cycle to some blue lagoons. A mere stone's throw from town, this cycle was expected to be an effortless journey through some quaint Colombian countryside. The cycle to the lagoons definitely fitted this description but on the return trip, in a last gasp attempt to finally make Nick understand what she feels about cycling, Ally decided to cycle over a pothole and break the rear wheel of her bike. This resulted in a long and silent walk all the way back to our hostel with a broken bicycle attached to my back. Nick started carrying it but then handed it to me after complaining about bicep cramp. You see, he's definitely a pansy. We were on the correct path on that damn mountain!

After 3 peaceful days in the countryside it was time to alter the scenery drastically and head into Bogota, Colombia's capital and largest city with 8 million humans. This sadly marked the end of our travels with Nick and Ally. We had an incredible time wandering around Colombia with them and were sure to miss them plenty for the rest of our trip. Luckily we had some new recruits arriving in Bogota a few days later in the form of another Lynch, Miss Kelly "junk food is good food" Lynch and the good doctor himself, Alan "I'm a Leb from Bennies, bru" Kourie.

Our short time in Bogota was spent trolling the streets, visiting an impressive but extremely boring gold museum and counting muzzled Rottweilers. Once Kel and Al arrived we headed up a mountain on the steepest train ever built in order to enjoy some terrific views of the expansive city. We also walked around a pigeon infested plaza that would've given Heath Lynch some serious nightmares and lastly Don could not stop smiling after eating a delicious dessert of some kind from Crepes and Waffles. Winning the lottery would not have resulted in greater joy for D-Dog.

For some final bonus writing from Big Nick please have a look here: http://www.travelpod.com/z/nickwardable/1/1339586923. Otherwise that's pretty much that. Next up, the long road back north to Cartagena with some more rafting, a paragliding fail, a crazy German, an aeroplane and more delicious chicken and chips in VdL...
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Melinda on

thanks for this latest, as always a great treat and feels like we can share your adventure just a little.....love you lots and miss you so much xxxxxx

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