Villa de Leyva

On Friday, Feb. 24, we left the Cañon de Chicamocha after only two nights. We were not eager to leave Cabañas Campestres, but we'd already postponed our reservation in Villa de Leyva by a couple of days. The only major event on the bus trip via San Gil was that Barbara's bag was waiting for her in the San Gil bus station. (See previous post for the story.)

Because of the traffic jam (left) our bus used side-streets in San Gil, some so steep the bus couldn't get up.

Villa de Leyva, our destination for three nights, is an old colonial town that has become a huge tourist draw.  On weekends, it is packed with tourists, many of them Colombians from Bogota. Some of the old colonial buildings in Villa de Leyva are similar to those in Barichara, but Villa de Leyva is much bigger, much busier, and not as consistently pretty. Still, parts of Villa de Leyva are undeniably beautiful.

Villa de Leyva's huge plaza

Plenty of tourists in Villa de Leyva

A pocket park

On a pretty residential street in Villa de Leyva

Luckily, we were staying at a wonderful AirBnB accommodation whose location was just right. We could walk in 10 or 15 minutes to the busy, historic (and touristic) center, but we were well away from the noise and bustle, in a beautiful home that had gardens and quiet space all around.

The Trujillo home, where we stayed

The living room

Dr. Trujillo's study (Our bedroom was through the arch on the right, but we'd already messed it up so skipped a photo!

Our host was Claudia Trujillo. She is a wonderfully warm and good-humored person who made us feel right at home. And she serves the prettiest breakfasts we've ever seen! Her husband Juan is a retired physician, quite old and not too active, but still smart and kind. We enjoyed being in their home tremendously.

Claudia and her sweet dog Estrella (Claudia is much, much sweeter and cheerier than she appears in this photo!)

The start -- only the start -- of one of Claudia's amazing breakfasts

One thing we noticed right away in Villa de Leyva was the large number of leather-clad motorcyclists in town on the weekend. There was a (mostly Harley) rally drawing riders from all over Colombia. The riders we talked to were super friendly, and we learned that there would be a gathering on Villa de Leyva's huge plaza on Saturday morning. What bikes! What a scene!

Just a few of the Harleys around the Villa de Leyva plaza

Quite a few women came on their Harleys

Biker chicks get together for a photo!

My favorite bike. Check the front wheel!

Also on Saturday morning we visited Villa de Leyva's twice-a-week market. Hundreds of vendors sell fruit and vegetables, crafts, and cooked meals. We sampled and then bought some cheeses
and bread, had more salpicon, and generally enjoyed the scene.

Saturday market in Villa de Leyva

Barbara's favorite

On Sunday morning we set out on a longish walk out of town. There were two marvelous highlights of the walk. One was a vivero, a plant nursery, but it was so much more than that. The owner, Jaime, specializes in plants of the desert. He also designs entire desert gardens, and his own place is a display of "earth art," much of it with spiritual meaning.

A salamander -- which has meaning in indigenous religion

Native America prayer wheel

Sometimes there are ceremonies at the bonfire -- notice the labyrinth behind.

Even though it was a Sunday morning, Jaime interrupted his breakfast to come outside and greet us. He is a fascinating man -- a spiritual earth-artist, but also a post production computer graphics editor for television commercials, often made in the U.S.

With Jaime

A little later he invited us to come inside to see his home, which he designed himself. It was beautiful and creative.

The last important place we visited on the way back to Villa de Leyva was another creatively designed home, but this one -- Casa Terracota -- goes way over the top! In a way, it's a single huge piece of pottery.

They say the entire house is one continuous piece of clay, baked in the sun

The house is made of clay, in turn made of earth. The clay construction baked in the sun. The designer and builder was the Colombian architect Octavio Mendoza. His goal, at least in part, was to show how earth can be used to build environmentally friendly dwellings in arid regions that are otherwise barren of building materials. The place is stunning and more than a little strange.

The spider-like thing is a chandelier; in the kitchen, all shelves, tables -- everything! -- is made of clay.

Angry-bird oven door, also visible in kitchen photo above

Exterior details -- what a remarkable sculpture is on the very top of the roof!

This is also up on the roof; there is even a barbecue area up here

On Monday morning we left Villa de Leyva for a single night back at Kylie's apartment and then on to Medellin. There was a German couple there as well, but we saw little of them. Tuesday morning we flew Avianca to Medellin for a few days.