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John and Mandi

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Following Our Hearts Instead of Our Minds, Villa de Leyva

Jan 29, 2018
by John

There is a pull to continue in a direction over doing what one wants, a road fever of sorts. We have met many who suffer greatly from its woes. The idea of having to leave or never driving in the opposite direction. It is more a condition than conditional, definitely derived from conditioning. A quest for completion, the will over the want, an imposed imaginary itinerary driven from the fear of the thoughts of others if one doesn't meet what they formerly proposed.

Or, as we more pointedly put it recently: Many move incessantly, determinedly undetermined. A false exhilaration, more falsely portrayed, fueled by the adoration of the ignorant and despondent. Detached yet engaged, incorrectly imagined, a perpetuated lie. We pity the fool(s).

Many inaccurately portray their travels on social media, becoming slaves to post performance, sacrificing their honesty, their travels, and themselves in a downward spiral. They have lost their hearts to what they suppose.

What We Did

Villa de Leyva

Our plan was to bed down for the holidays before resuming our drive south. Since Salento wasn't exactly the place we were looking for we drove back to Villa de Leyva, it is our favorite after all. The road in front of Mi Refugio was still not finished so we settled for Renacer. At 18,000 per person ($6), it was sufficient but we really didn't like being outside of town. Over our 11 night stay we meet a few overlanders, getting a nice surprise of running back into Josef & Monika whom we first met in Costa Rica on a quetzal hike, making for some great times.

During our stay at Renacer we made several visits to Mi Refugio, having coffee and pastries with Diana and Santiago, it becoming apparent that the road wouldn't open anytime soon (it finally did Dec. 29th). In a lucky twist we also became friends with another great couple, Juan & Mariev, who insisted we move to their yard and stop paying the crazy campground fees. What we assumed to be a few days turned into over a month with us helping to house and pet sit while they attended to personal matters requiring trips to Bogota. They even looked into us getting our residency, which we might pursue one day. Recently we saw an advertisement that said coffee was the heart of Colombia. Nope, the Colombian people are much more exquisite than their fabulous coffee.

What do we have to show for our almost two month stay? Not much but a few extra pounds and an extension to our family. Our hearts are full of love, a debt we hope we fulfilled in return. We also managed to make several new friends from the road, finally getting to meet Juergen & Yasha and Kirsi & Jack, spending Christmas Day and New Years Day respectively. While we failed to get pictures of everyone, in order of appearance:

Villa de Leyva, Boyaca, Colombia

Just plain and simple

Villa de Leyva, Boyaca, Colombia

I know, I know

Villa de Leyva, Boyaca, Colombia

Pepper for your paprikash?

Villa de Leyva, Boyaca, Colombia

Exactly what we are looking for

Villa de Leyva, Boyaca, Colombia

Future site of Overlander Oasis 2.0

Villa de Leyva, Boyaca, Colombia

Takes two half asses to work the wood chipper

Villa de Leyva, Boyaca, Colombia

Whimsically white washed wonderfulness

Villa de Leyva, Boyaca, Colombia

Now that is subtle coordination

Villa de Leyva, Boyaca, Colombia

Cheers to never leaving

Villa de Leyva, Boyaca, Colombia

You should see it at night

Villa de Leyva, Boyaca, Colombia

Draw this Matty Liot

Villa de Leyva, Boyaca, Colombia

The uglyness is everywhere

Villa de Leyva, Boyaca, Colombia

Barichara is losing ground

Villa de Leyva, Boyaca, Colombia

Pick the process for your poison

Villa de Leyva, Boyaca, Colombia

They got wall, no Trump

Villa de Leyva, Boyaca, Colombia

Just peachy

Villa de Leyva, Boyaca, Colombia

Picture perfect

Villa de Leyva, Boyaca, Colombia

Getting close to the cake store

Villa de Leyva, Boyaca, Colombia

No, that's not a hospital

Villa de Leyva, Boyaca, Colombia

It was classy before those plastic trees showed up

Villa de Leyva, Boyaca, Colombia

Four palm day

Villa de Leyva, Boyaca, Colombia

I'd pay fifty dollars for one of those

Villa de Leyva, Boyaca, Colombia

They take their gates very serious around here

Villa de Leyva, Boyaca, Colombia

Again, build bridges not walls you stupid sumbitch

Villa de Leyva, Boyaca, Colombia

Never looks natural, especially when we are making fun of it

Villa de Leyva, Boyaca, Colombia

It's a glow, a seizure enducing show

Villa de Leyva, Boyaca, Colombia

Get that light out of my eyes

Villa de Leyva, Boyaca, Colombia

Open air bar

Villa de Leyva, Boyaca, Colombia

Another photo, this bag is getting heavy

Villa de Leyva, Boyaca, Colombia

We could wander around here for the rest of our lives

Villa de Leyva, Boyaca, Colombia

Rufus and Chiquita

Villa de Leyva, Boyaca, Colombia

We dared, and went

Villa de Leyva, Boyaca, Colombia

So much for eating healthy

Villa de Leyva, Boyaca, Colombia

Biggest yard ornament of them all

Villa de Leyva, Boyaca, Colombia

And even their t-shirts match, sickening ; )

Villa de Leyva, Boyaca, Colombia

Even this guy moves faster than we do

Villa de Leyva, Boyaca, Colombia

Arugula, cat, and gringos...garden is finished

Villa de Leyva, Boyaca, Colombia

Combatting the pizza and pasteries

The Cars

Wandering the streets of a town eventually reveals much about its people, nice 4WDs are definitely something appreciated in Villa de Leyva and there are more Land Rovers than we'd like to admit. When we happened upon a nice specimen we usually snapped a photo, mostly with our iPhone so the quality is just OK. On a couple occasions we stumbled across restored classic cars, its not all 4x4s even though that is our current taste.

Villa de Leyva, Boyaca, Colombia

Of course it's at the top of the list

Villa de Leyva, Boyaca, Colombia

The only thing tough enough to get in between a cruiser and a rover

Villa de Leyva, Boyaca, Colombia

Red rover, red rover, send a working one over

Villa de Leyva, Boyaca, Colombia

Not your daddy's Suzuki

Villa de Leyva, Boyaca, Colombia

All we want for Christmas is this!

Villa de Leyva, Boyaca, Colombia

Technically not really a Chevy but it'll do

Villa de Leyva, Boyaca, Colombia

Got a right purty winch

Villa de Leyva, Boyaca, Colombia

No claim, no fame, Diahatsu

We expected Kevin Costner to be around somewhere

Villa de Leyva, Boyaca, Colombia

Known as Baby Face and Machine Gun

Raquira

The only excursion we managed, actually Juan & Mariev took us, was to Raquira, a neighboring town that specializes in pottery. It was a wonderful afternoon spent perusing the wares and getting to know our hosts better. Mariev's mom, we too call her mami, came along. We are going to miss them all very much.

Raquira, Boyaca, Colombia

That would be one hell of a fall

Raquira, Boyaca, Colombia

Oh, coffee gives you spidey senses

Raquira, Boyaca, Colombia

For the last time, Juan is not John!

Raquira, Boyaca, Colombia

Don Quixote on his pink mare?

Raquira, Boyaca, Colombia

Electrifying

Raquira, Boyaca, Colombia

More could definitely be going on

Raquira, Boyaca, Colombia

In the eyes of the lord

Raquira, Boyaca, Colombia

He's a hip hop artesan

Raquira, Boyaca, Colombia

Praise...oh, enough with the churches

Raquira, Boyaca, Colombia

Man, woman, donkey, MIL...hmmmm

Raquira, Boyaca, Colombia

Familia Colombiana

Raquira, Boyaca, Colombia

The perspective might be a teensy bit off

Raquira, Boyaca, Colombia

What's up with the monkeys?

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.

Amore Mio

Our backup spot for breakfast, their bacon and chicken quiches were phenomenal and only 10,000 ($3.33). We only visited a few times as their hours are erratic but worth it when we caught them open.

Sybarita

The coffee doctors, serving what has become our favorite brand in all of Colombia, also served at Montserrat. There are many different methods of brewing, we tried three with Kirsi (Jack doesn't drink coffee because he's a canine) and they all were lovely. Our favorite is the Cauca, it's strong, but every flavor available did not disappoint. A pound is 25,000 ($8.33) and a grande cappuccino 5,000 ($1.66).

Chez Remy

French cuisine that is very tasty. We only visited twice but the ham and bacon tartaflette was fantastic, 25,500 ($8.50). Our intention was to try more of their dishes but our other favorite restaurants in town sort of got in the way.

Chocolatte

Hand made chocolate, not much else needs to be said. If you like the real stuff, this is the place. Bars run 12,000 ($4) and are nice and thick. Probably the second best chocolate of the trip, Ixcacao in Belize easily holding first place.


Say what? (12)
Jan 29, 2018 at 07:46 AM
Seems to be a common conversation among those who prefer our style of overlanding. Once you've experienced slow travel it's hard to want it any other way. I guess anything is better than sitting behind a desk, and I do believe the road provides an education for anyone who decides to make tracks..regardless of the pace. But slowa is definitely mo betta :) Hope all is well with you guys!
Jan 29, 2018 at 04:55 PM
Hey Josh! Things are going very well, Colombia has stolen our hearts. We see you are looking into shipping back to the States :( Keep good notes cause we'll need them

While we prefer slow, we don't expect everyone else to. A theme over the past 6 months has been a weary Overland couple arrives in camp, complains about how tired they are, states they wished they could stay longer, posts an Instagram to the contrary, and disappears the next day to trudge further along the PanAm. We always encourage them to take a couple zero days or to just listen to themselves. Even when presented with the fact that they don't have to leave, their trip can be anything they make it, they don't change and just continue along just like the grind of an unwanted job. It's disheartening, we feel for them but we've been unable to alter the mentality. Now we catch ourselves being disinterested and not wanting to even meet any one nighters, a response we never expected. We like to help others, same as you and Jenna, I guess we're just tired of saying the same thing over and over while being ignored.
Jan 29, 2018 at 09:25 AM
Totally!! Early on, our trip stopped becoming about "going" somewhere or "getting" somewhere but just about being on the road doing what we loved and diving deep into the places we were experiencing. For us, it meant a shorter distance traveled but a longer time in the places we were - just our style. I really enjoyed this post and these pictures!!
Jan 29, 2018 at 05:00 PM
You two are an example we use over and over. Finding ones groove over reaching some preconceived destination is definitely winning! It was advice we received, some we believe, so it's what we share. Traveling should only have one goal, to grow oneself - to change within. That is the journey. We miss you guys XOXO
Doug A Calder
Jan 29, 2018 at 09:52 AM
Enjoyable on two levels: reliving De Leyva and your prose.
Jan 29, 2018 at 05:05 PM
Thanks Doug! We strive to entertain, actually...we don't ; ) Glad you liked it. We figured it might rub a bunch of people the wrong way but we believe in saying what we feel must be said. Obviously us slowverlanders see it a different way.
Jan 29, 2018 at 06:52 PM
Loved this! Especially in light of SO many people who haven't even left yet fretting about the best time to visit here or there. As many of us know all too well, life does not generally follow such strict guidelines on timing:) Hell, we're basically going backward at this point and yet loving every minute of it. Miss you guys but love seeing your updates from the south.
Feb 4, 2018 at 11:08 AM
Thanks Rhonda! We miss you guys too. We think all those people fretting contributed a little to this post as well, especially since we received a fair bit of friction when we gave our advice. As you know, there is no forward, backward, sideways...whatever. Letting go is just that, letting go. It's not like we didn't adhere to a falsely prescribed itinerary in the beginning either, we've just learned a thing or two and hope to sway others to follow what they desire and not just a desire for completion. XOXO
Jo mama
Jan 30, 2018 at 08:49 AM
Hey baby...don’t forget who your REAL Mami is😉😘
Jan 30, 2018 at 09:08 AM
I could never forget Momma!!
Robert Brown
Jan 30, 2018 at 01:04 PM
Wow, just WOW, am soooo envious BUT thankful that you shared your adventure. Can't even imagine how it must feel to see these pictures in person, which were all great. Keep them coming, seeing these unknown places only expands our world to others. You guy are great to do this for the rest of us.
Feb 4, 2018 at 11:13 AM
Thank you Robert and thanks again for reaching out about that Bigfoot TT we once both owned. It was a great trip down memory lane and a rekindling of us one day possibly living in another while touring the US, a much longer amount of time is needed than the 6 months we spent at the start of this trip.
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