The road to Barichara
We set off the next day towards Chapala and pretty soon discovered why our GPS was telling us that such a short distance was going to take so long. The area had suffered some pretty big landslides and there was whole lot of rebuilding going on.
We ended up sat in two sets of roads works for around 2 hours. Everyone around us seemed resigned and unworried about the delays. They put on music, talked to one another and us and we all shared what food we had.
The roads were once again interesting and the views stunning as we rode through farmland and small settlements in the middle of nowhere, there were horses hauling logs and ladies washing their clothes in the water barrel in the garden.
At one point we rode through what seemed like a big hippy commune and later discovered it was a Taoist community.
We reached and passed Chapala and decided to push on. We stopped for a late lunch of water and chippies and ended up in the town on San Gil with a great outlook over the town.
The following day we carried on north towards La Mesa de Los Santos as we heard there may be the possibility of Spanish lessons there. It was a big tourist hot spot and loud and commercial; not our cup of tea. So, after a day we pressed on and kind of did a loop just under the town of Piedecuesta and turned back south.
We took the most amazing road down from the mountain to the river and then back up the other side. It was twisty and tarmac and perfect Bikers road!
Best of all this road was so steep and twisty that there were no trucks to get stuck behind, which is actually a common occurrence in Colombia.
At the top we stopped and took in the view before heading on towards Zapatoca, a very pretty little mountain town.
The roads by now had turned back to gravel and dirt and in some places deep mud, and we passed through beautiful little country settlement and farms.
The views were "chocolate box" and we were the only people there. At one point we stopped at a viewpoint overlooking the town of La Fuente. There was a sign there and it had a few (only a few) stickers from the odd traveller who had passed this way so we added our sticker too, proud to be one of those few who had left the beaten track to explore.
A few more gravel roads and a water crossing later and we reached our destination for the night, Barichara. We hadn't really known what to expect of the place as it was touted as a tourist destination BUT fortunately the only way in is by gravel roads and this keeps out the hordes.
We immediately liked the place and once we had checked into our hotel we booked for a few more nights and asked if there was a Spanish teacher in town.
There was an we managed to secure a 4 day series of lessons to top up our bad language skills. Emerson was amazing and after spending 8 years working in the UK was able to explain our language shortcomings in English when we needed it.
we even got to take part in a shopping and cooking experience on our last day.
Barichara is the most beautiful little town. Its around 1300 metres above sea level and sits of the side of a hill so all the cobbled streets are steep and great for exercising! Pretty white washed buildings and tiled rooves, with 3 churches and numerous little shops and cafes dotted behind thick doors. No supermarkets here, this was all "old school".
That "winter is coming in Patagonia" clock ticks loudly! so even though it was a wonderful place we had to move on after 6 days. There was still an awful lot we wanted to see in this country!