Guess who´s back? Back again. Gilesy´s back. Aha-hem.
I bet you didn´t even realise I was gone, you Gentle but also Heartless Reader!
Well, I was, even if you don´t care. I´d jumped out of the Bog, headed down the highway (on the way eating the best Boyacense arepa – two different types of cheese – that I´ve ever had, but that´s a story for another day, Maize fans) and made it to the whitewash-walled, cobblestone-roaded picture-perfected colonial retreat, Villa de Leyva. And you guys didn´t even miss me.
Well, fine!! I was having too good a time to notice, anyway! I could bore you with all the details of what I did in this beautiful town itself, but, seeing we´ve already got a couple of guides to Villa de Leyva, I thought I would instead talk a bit more about what you can find by hiring a tour or a taxi to head outside the town…
The Clay House.
It´s completely made out of clay!!! The logistics of firing the stuff alone are mind-boggling. How the hell did they even do it? People were giving me all kinds of explanations, but I´m going to say that it was MAGIC that did it. The idea was, apparently, to just build a house and live in it, but these days, the indigenous owners have turned it into one of the coolest museums going around. There´s MAGIC in that there house, I tells ya…
¨Pozos Azules,¨I have it on good authority, is German for ¨Super Mario Brothers.¨ Although this is interesting, it doesn´t really explain why these pools are such a striking shade of aquamarine, or why everybody else told me I was wrong, and that it was actually Spanish for ¨Blue Wells¨ or something. Whatever, guys. What I do know is that these pools are beautifully limpid and I was sad that I hadn´t brought my bikini so I could have a dip in them, as the Lady Guardian of the Super Mario Brothers Pools told me I could. Next time, Pozos, next time…
Neighbouring Raquira, named after the less famous sister of Spanish/Argentinian/Colombian superstar, Shaquira, is a Pottery Paradise. Of course, Shaquira´s sister´s name, Raquira, is derived from the Chibcha word meaning ¨City of Pots.¨ This is a bizarre twist of fate, as Raquira has been, from time immemorial, the home of the best – and cheapest – traditionally-made pottery in Colombia. It is said that the MAGIC used to make the House of Clay (above) originated in this town. To tell you the truth, not being that much of a shopper, I was bored almost to tears by this place. However, my keen shopper companions went completely ape on the main street with its myriad of shops devoted to all kinds of pottery, great and small, all at the most ridiculously low prices you´re ever likely to see. Mugs featuring every name under the sun, pots, trinkets, and, of course, the Pizza Of Resistance, the traditional Spider Piggy Bank. There are also other traditional goods on sale, and, what´s more, an awesome little Hammock District.
If you get a tour from town, or organise a pick-up from the bus terminal, there are plenty of other cool spots around Villa de Leyva to explore. Another favourite of mine is the Convent of Ecce Homo, a sanctuary devoted to silence. Head into its church, and find the drawing of Jesus by the Confessional. If Jesus´ eyes are open when you look, you are clean. Closed eyes, however, signify the opposite. No prizes for guessing what happened when I looked. There are also plenty of fossils around the area – check out the huge marine dinosaur at the Fossil Museum. And then there´s the beautiful old town itself, lost in time and just waiting for you to visit, and… and….