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Fiesta del Carmen in Villa de Leyva, Colombia

Written on: Thursday July 17th, 2008

A journal entry from: Trails in 2008

We were very lucky to arrive in town for the annual celebration of the feast of St Carmen, but far from being a holy event, it was an excuse for all the neighbouring farmers to descend on the town, get really drunk, let off random firecrackers, sleep when required in the back of the cattle trucks they arrived in and party at night in front of the big stage in the main plaza.   This is the biggest colonial town in Colombia, and I´m sure usually a very tranquil place.  But we´re loving being part of the action - it was the first place with genuine poncho-wearing, machete wielding people, drinking beer out of big crate bottles (whilst sitting on the crate) on every roadside and corner.  Autentico!!   Both evenings there were industrial sized fireworks let off in the main plaza, with the crowd far too close to them for my comfort, and burning residue falling down on the roofs of these beautiful old buildings! 

Another big attraction in this town is the fossil of a kronosaurus, a 120 million year old marine reptile, kind of an overgrown crocodile. We hired bikes and navigated through the bodies sleeping/partying in town to bike a loop of the surrounding countryside, and stopped to look at a unique mud house where we met the architect owner who showed us around and then invited to join him for coffee and some smoked pig leg.  With his spanish and french, and our english, we managed to have an amazingly detailed conversation covering construction, environment, religion and local mythology.  Those spanish lessons must have paid off.

I haven´t mentioned yet that the best thing about Colombia is the FEIJOAS!!!  Those of you unfortunate enough to have never experienced this delicious fruit will not appreciate this find.  They only fruit in NZ for about 3-4 weeks, but here its 3-4 months.  Enough to consider a move to Colombia.  The Colombian fruit sellers love to chat about them, and with my spanglish we share our love of this little green fruit.