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John and Mandi

us --> van --> overland
958 days a wanderin'

Don't Forsake a Place for the Sake of Another, Villa de Leyva

Dec 3, 2017
by John

There are places and moments that consume us. Not necessarily spectacular or extra ordinary. More a sense of comfortableness, of contentment. Where circumstances collide and collude to contaminate our conscious with continuity in place of continuation. The precipitation of parking, pretense to permanence, where perpetuance consents to cessation.

What We Did

Villa de Leyva

On our way to Villa de Leyva we decided to stop at a big truck service center outside Duitama to see if they could check a couple things on the van. Unfortunately they only performed basic services but the owner made a couple calls and got us into a great local shop owned and managed by Henry Patarollo. Eight hours later we had new sway bar bushings, drive shaft o-rings, and our driver's side hub c-clip replaced for the low price of $53. Even though it was a Friday, they busted their butts to get us all tightened and fixed up in addition to all the local vehicles they had to complete for the weekend. The biggest obstacle was the language barrier which was kindly solved by a Colombian/American, from Tampa, who happened to be in town visiting family. We left after dark, breaking the no driving at night rule, and stopped at a Terpel a few miles away for the night.

Rolling into Villa de Leyva during a three day holiday made navigating through town a little tricky but we were completely enamored. Getting parked, wandering the streets, and perusing all of the crafts on display for the tree festival in the gigantic square made it clear that we'd be staying for a least a few days. Once we started finding traditional soured dough bread, French pastries, and dining at the plethora of really nice restaurants it was apparent we might end up staying in town a bit longer. Eventually, road construction forced us out, the risk was having our tourist and vehicle permits expire before the road was usable again, three weeks after we had arrived. To say that Villa de Leyva is our favorite is an understatement. We had fallen so head over heels we have driven back, after extending our tourist and vehicle permits, and expect to spend the holiday season eating and being exuberantly merry.

Villa de Leyva, Boyaca, Colombia

Oh, we see, all the orange pots have to be in the back

Villa de Leyva, Boyaca, Colombia

And our first thought was there's an ATM

Villa de Leyva, Boyaca, Colombia

You keep on knockin but you can't come in

Villa de Leyva, Boyaca, Colombia

Something's wrong, there's a normal amount of wires

Villa de Leyva, Boyaca, Colombia

No we don't need any juice boxes

Villa de Leyva, Boyaca, Colombia

Tell me again, why are we leaving?

Villa de Leyva, Boyaca, Colombia

Someone felt a little insecure

Villa de Leyva, Boyaca, Colombia

Not the camera, just huge

Villa de Leyva, Boyaca, Colombia

We heart Villa de Leyva

Mi Refugio

We knew we wanted to be in town for easy access making Mi Refugio our home base. While it didn't seem like much, just parking in the small vehicle area close to the street for 18,000 per person ($6), it had everything we were wanting. The reason the place is so magical is the hosts. Diana, Santiago, and little Lucia are beyond wonderful. We couldn't have wished for more. Our only regret is that upon our return to Villa de Leyva the road is still not finished so we aren't back with our dear friends.

As in most places wonderful, several overlanders rotated through making for great times. Meals were shared, wine drunk, stories told, and spots swapped. We also celebrated our 20th wedding anniversary, Marcus & Julie's 15th, at a really nice restaurant with Matty & Ingrid and Mark & Barbara. It was perfect. Hanging with new and old friends is one of the best parts of traveling. In order of appearance:

Mi Refugio, Villa de Leyva, Boyaca, Colombia

Refuge for sure!

Mi Refugio, Villa de Leyva, Boyaca, Colombia

Trifecta of merica made shit

Mi Refugio, Villa de Leyva, Boyaca, Colombia

That might not be legal in this country

Mi Refugio, Villa de Leyva, Boyaca, Colombia

Nice kicks

Mi Refugio, Villa de Leyva, Boyaca, Colombia

You could have parked a little closer

Mi Refugio, Villa de Leyva, Boyaca, Colombia

I guess that makes us the bitch

Mi Refugio, Villa de Leyva, Boyaca, Colombia

Colombian Swiss cheese

Mi Refugio, Villa de Leyva, Boyaca, Colombia

The cute pouty face for the win

Mi Refugio, Villa de Leyva, Boyaca, Colombia

It's butter not baughta

Mirador Villa de Leyva

Up the hill, behind Mi Refugio, is a lookout over the town. While we mostly ate and did nothing during our time in Villa de Leyva, Sam & Don organized a hike one morning so we decided our sorry asses should join in. It was a fun time and a good ascent up the hillside. The day wasn't exactly clear but the view was very beautiful.

Villa de Leyva, Boyaca, Colombia

No pigeons, amateur

Villa de Leyva, Boyaca, Colombia

At least somebody's pumped

Casa Terracota

Another Don & Sam venture, one we were planning anyway, they insisted we walk the two kilometers to and from the Casa Terracota so we got a little more exercise than our planned drive. At 10,000 per person ($3.50), it was well worth the visit. The artistic detail was fabulous and the house remarkable. It is deceivingly large, a four bedroom, with far too many hang out areas to count.

Terracota House, Villa de Leyva, Boyaca, Colombia

No, it's not for rent so stop asking

Terracota House, Villa de Leyva, Boyaca, Colombia

About as close to dancing as I get

Terracota House, Villa de Leyva, Boyaca, Colombia

Creepy cool

Terracota House, Villa de Leyva, Boyaca, Colombia

What the hell are you masquerading around for?

Terracota House, Villa de Leyva, Boyaca, Colombia

I think they mostly order take-out

Terracota House, Villa de Leyva, Boyaca, Colombia

Maui?

Terracota House, Villa de Leyva, Boyaca, Colombia

Fork you too tin man

Terracota House, Villa de Leyva, Boyaca, Colombia

But what if I have to pee in the middle of the night?

Terracota House, Villa de Leyva, Boyaca, Colombia

Luke Skywalker can only dream

Terracota House, Villa de Leyva, Boyaca, Colombia

Bow chicka wow wow

Terracota House, Villa de Leyva, Boyaca, Colombia

We stopped giving a hoot a long time ago

Terracota House, Villa de Leyva, Boyaca, Colombia

It doesn't look up to code

Terracota House, Villa de Leyva, Boyaca, Colombia

Wonky, just like my brain

Convento de Eccehomo

After a failed attempt at locating a hike 20km outside of town, appeared to be private property, we decided to check out a convent that is known for having floors that contain ammonites and fossils. It was interesting, only needing about 30 minutes to explore, and inexpensive at 5,000 per person ($1.70). The best example of the floor was actually in the alcove of the entry way and not in the convent itself.

Convento de Eccehomo, Villa de Leyva, Boyaca, Colombia

Seems simple enough

Convento de Eccehomo, Villa de Leyva, Boyaca, Colombia

It doesn't feel as good under foot as it looks

Convento de Eccehomo, Villa de Leyva, Boyaca, Colombia

It's a trap, don't take anything from the garden

Convento de Eccehomo, Villa de Leyva, Boyaca, Colombia

Representing all the sacrificial virgins

Convento de Eccehomo, Villa de Leyva, Boyaca, Colombia

Stained with the sins of man

Convento de Eccehomo, Villa de Leyva, Boyaca, Colombia

As if

Convento de Eccehomo, Villa de Leyva, Boyaca, Colombia

And we only expected seating for 13

Convento de Eccehomo, Villa de Leyva, Boyaca, Colombia

An actual pot head

Convento de Eccehomo, Villa de Leyva, Boyaca, Colombia

Nice strappage

Convento de Eccehomo, Villa de Leyva, Boyaca, Colombia

Bagged it

Convento de Eccehomo, Villa de Leyva, Boyaca, Colombia

The cardboard is so you don't get blood on the sheets

Convento de Eccehomo, Villa de Leyva, Boyaca, Colombia

Why wouldn't there be a freaky alien with a suspect pee hole?

Convento de Eccehomo, Villa de Leyva, Boyaca, Colombia

What a great place to rest

Museo El Fosil

Who hasn't dreamed of seeing the fossilized remains of a kronosaurus? It was a quick stop after the convent, 8,000 per person ($2.72), with a fair bit of artifacts to peruse. Guides were available, we weren't offered one, so it's possible to learn more about the archeological significance of the region.

Museo el Fosil, Villa de Leyva, Boyaca, Colombia

Somebody just let themselves go

Museo el Fosil, Villa de Leyva, Boyaca, Colombia

Nolongerhereasaurus

Museo el Fosil, Villa de Leyva, Boyaca, Colombia

Maybe a little too much artistic freedom

Museo el Fosil, Villa de Leyva, Boyaca, Colombia

Can we have cheese with this knuckle sandwich

Museo el Fosil, Villa de Leyva, Boyaca, Colombia

Chew on this vegans

Museo el Fosil, Villa de Leyva, Boyaca, Colombia

Rockcoco

Honorable Mentions

While we don't list every place and thing we do there are some that stick in our minds. Weeks later we catch ourselves mentioning them to others or just savoring the memory of the exquisite cuisine we consumed. Here are a few standouts.

Astral

By far, one of the best bread places of the trip. We were lucky enough to stop in when an ancient grain soured dough was fresh out of the oven, yum. Prices range with an average of 10,000 for a large loaf and 3,000 for baguettes.

Pasteleria Francesa

Not too sweet and impeccably scrumptious. We started with a couple tarts, then ended up buying entire blackberry pies, to share of course, for 36,000 ($12). Mandi & Matty also swear by the eclairs. There is a huge selection, we just have a weakness for blackberries.

Montserrat

Our favorite breakfast haunt and a great deal at 7,000 ($2.35) for eggs, a couple pieces of bacon, toasted homemade bread, and a small french press of Colombian coffee. We also tried their crepes which were as delicious as breakfast.

Mercado Municipal 

Slow cooked pork, let the drooling commence. The ribs were remarkable! Not cheap, averaging $15 per person but well worth it.

Piano Bar (El Rincon Gourmet)

Phenomenal, absolutely phenomenal. A fine dining experience with perfectly cooked filet mignon (lomo). It was the place where we celebrated our 20th wedding anniversary with 3 other couples. While not inexpensive, not overpriced either. An appetizer (empanaditas) and two filet dinners set us back $37. Adding starters, wine, and a great group of friends, expect to break $50 per couple. If there ever was a place to treat oneself, look no further.


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Say what? (2)
george Penick
Dec 3, 2017 at 02:36 PM
No night driving, didnt realize that. On the van repairs, was the hub c clip missing? Where did they find bushings for the sway bar? Do you feel now the 4wd was worth the cost/trouble. Saw the big MAN truck, looks expensive! That desert town looked OK, but not as impressive as some of the others youve mentioned. WIki says its a big tourist town- didnt look that way by you. cheers! Back in Tallahassee after 5 months in NC near Asheville.
Dec 3, 2017 at 02:49 PM
Hey George! The c-clip broke and there are parts places everywhere in Colombia. Usually all the mechanics and the parts vendors are centralized so it's easy for them to locate what is needed. The bigger the truck, the bigger the cost...as with everything. They are really nice though ; ) It is a tourist town but not full of foreigners, mostly weekend Colombian tourists. It is not uncommon for us to be the only white people walking around. It is not as dry as we thought it would be and we are surprised we like it so much since it is mildly arid. There is plenty of greenery, including grass, making it a great compromise between humid jungle and dry desert. Enjoy the winter in Tally!
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