In the words of possibly the greatest Australian poet of all time, if you ever find yourself in “a ball of confusion, when nothing is new and there´s nothing doin´, step back in time.” And if ever happen to be lucky enough to find yourself travelling in Colombia, one of your best options if you want to follow renowned poet-philosopher Minogue´s advice is to high-step it to the colonial town of Villa de Leyva.
Now, I was going to try to squeeze this blog-post into some kind of “Ultimate Guide to Villa de Leyva” or “Top 5” or something, but, to tell you the truth, I thought today I´d just leave you with a series of impressions about the places I love in and around this cobblestoned retreat.
The Clay House
It´s completely made out of clay! The logistics of firing the stuff alone are mind-boggling. How did they even do it? People were keen on giving me all sorts of explanations, but I´m going to have to say that it was MAGIC that did it. The idea was, apparently, to simply build a house and live in it (a fairly commonplace idea), but the indigenous owners have turned it into one of the coolest museums around. There´s MAGIC in that there house, I tells ya…
These natural pools, a short distance from Villa de Leyva are so strikingly aquamarine aquamarine, beautifully limpid and fresh that you’d have to be an idiot not to bring your swimming trunks. Well, I was that idiot. Next time, Pozos, next time…
The nearby town of Raquira is a Pottery Paradise. The name Raquira is derived from the Chibcha word meaning “City of Pots.” This is something of a happy coincidence, as Raquira has been, from time immemorial, home to the best – and cheapest – traditionally-made pottery in Colombia. To be totally honest, not being that much of a shopper, I was bored almost to tears by this place. However, my keen shopper companions went completely bananas on the main street with its myriad of shops devoted to all things pottery, all at the most outrageously low prices you´re ever likely to come across. Mugs featuring every Spanish name imaginable, pots, trinkets, and, of course, the main event, 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 loads of other cool spots around Villa de Leyva for you 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. Or check out the Ostrich Park. I can’t quite explain its presence in Villa de Leyva, but it’s a park full of ostriches. Say no more. 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….