Last weekend I received an invitation to spend the weekend in Villacicencio at the finca (country house/ ranch) of a friend of Carolinas. Carolina is a friend I met in Adelaide when she was there studying English last year.
Early Saturday morning we made the hour and a half drive to Los Lllanos (the planes) as the area is called. The finca was incredible!! The climate away from the Andes is warm and humid and the finca comes complete with a luxurious pool where we spent most of the weekend drinking beers and sangria. Much to my distaste I was also forced to drink a fair quantity of aguardiente, not sure exactly from what it is distilled but it is a clear spirit which tastes like liquorice. I hate it but it is a big part of Colombian culture and afternoons are whiled away passing the bottle of aguardiente.
On the first afternoon we were treated to a performance by the stock man of traditional Colombian music and dance. Music is a huge part of the farming culture here. One guy plays a yucalali (sorry I have absolutely no idea how that work is spelt!!) type instrument, another has the maracas and another sings traditional songs about the land, lost lovers and hopes for the future. The dancing involves some sort of tap dancing type stomping with hands in the air. It is actually quite similar to the Argentine gaucho dancing which is interesting considering those two countries are so far apart. Anyway needless to say a lot of aguardiente was passed throughout the afternoon and I reluctantly had to be a part of it!!
On the second day we did a huge hike up through the mountains following the stream of waterfalls. It was spectacular!! Most of the hiking was down along the river which was lovely and cooling. At one point the group literary had to scale a cliff through a waterfall in order to continue up the mountain. The owner of the finca went first and I, apparently now considered a rock climber (after three lessons!!) was told to bring up the group from behind. Some of the girls were absolutely terrified (perhaps with good reason!! Especially having never climbed before) and one was stuck half way between the top and the bottom shaking and balling her eyes out for 20 minutes. I really felt for her because at that point there was no way out! With a lot of coaching though we eventually got everyone to the top!!
On the Saturday night half the group stayed at the finca and half (me included)headed off to a concert of local music Turns out the guys playing were nominated for the Latin grammies (so funny!!). The music was more of the traditional music from the finca. My favourite part is definitely watching the maracas. There was a lot more drinking of aguardiente and, choosing to pass this time, I soon felt very sober in a group of ridiculously drunken people. When one of the group, a gentlemen older than Dad, grabbed my hand and told me that my eyes turn him on, I was officially no longer enjoying the evening! In the end we managed to get home safely (how I have no idea!!) and the next day everything was back to normal and we spent the day riding horses and lounging around the pool.
I have spent the last couple of days staying with Carolina in the north side of the city which is the super hip and expensive part. Its great because Carolina goes out a lot and there is always something going on. Yesterday we went to a couple of shopping malls where our car and all of our belongings were checked for bombs before we entered!! Since the new very strict right wing president has come to office Colombia has seen an incredible increase in security. The government military groups have pushed guerrilla operators out of the cities and now largely only exist on the boarder areas. As a bit of a lefty myself it is an interesting political system. Thinking about it seems that leftist ideals, such as human rights, always seem to take a back seat where security is an issue. Uribe, the president, is running the country almost as a police state where privacy is practically non existent, but the people welcome the lowering of human rights for the sake of better security and to be honest on the face of it I do to. If having a security guard pull out all the personal things from hand bag in front of everyone means that there is a limited chance of bomb going off in a shopping mall than I think I am ok with that. I suppose it is a slippery slope though, searching a hand bag is one thing, maybe searching my house would be another?
I would love to add photos but I still dont have a camera!! Mum and Dad have sent one so should have some photos again soon! Big kisses xoxo
posted Thursday November 2008