In the distance, an ancient mist seeps from the mountains
while black birds roost on terra-cotta roofs.
So much beauty is hidden, just out of reach,
locked away in the crevices of the mountains.
Crystal falls create canopies of sound, an adventure I can only imagine,
while war strangles peace.
The ride to Villavicencio is breathtaking. Waterfalls cascade into rushing rivers, cutting deep valleys into the lush mountains. The skyline is dotted with the vibrant colors of paragliders soaring at dizzying heights. Paragliding is either the biggest recreational sport in the area, or it is the guerrillas main mode of transportation in the mountains. Purely speculation on my part.
Sadly we didn’t see much of Villavicencio. Two of the three days on our trip, it poured rain from the morning until late afternoon, and the remainder of the time it rained off and on, making it very difficult to plan an excursion.
This was also a very last minute trip. We planned the trip a day or two before we left. Not the best idea, but sometimes you have to make decisions on the fly. When we got to Villavicencio we did some research. We found that traveling by land, to some places, was not very safe because of the ongoing issues with the FARC (guerrillas).
Right now the FARC is in “peace talks” with the government, but things are nowhere near resolved. During these “peace talks”, another group associated with the FARC has been causing destruction in different areas. We really wanted to see the Caño Cristales, but our rapid planning prevented us from making this trip. It was out of our budget. We had already booked a hotel for 3 nights in Villavicencio and we would have had to double book for two nights to go to La Macarena, near the falls, as well as booking a separate flight and transportation.
We did see some great traditional live music and dancing. Música Llanera, the traditional music of the campesinos, features a harp. In theory, it sounds like slow music to help you sleep. In actuality, they play the harp with all the furor of a rock guitarist. Check out some of the dancers and music here.
We also had some great food. If you go to Villavicencio make sure to eat some Mamona. In Bogota, a Mamona is someone who acts childish or annoying, but in Villavicencio it is some of the best barbecue you have ever eaten. Who knows, maybe we are cannibals, but it was delicious.
Villavicencio, we will be back to float above your valleys, and take in the magnificence of the Caño Cristales, but until then stay hot, stay humid, stay sticky.