Colombia’s Countryside

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I’ve visited Colombia several times in the last few years through my work. I really enjoy the country, probably mostly because it reminds me of Ecuador, where I grew up. I especially love Bogota, with it’s contrast of colonial architecture and bustling modernism.

This past June, I left the cities behind and made my first foray into Colombia’s countryside.

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We were invited to the home of a local politician in Tunja, a small city about 2.5 hours drive from Bogota. His home is perched on a hill overlooking the valley where the city is nestled. At night, the view of the twinkling city lights from the porch was magical.

The home itself was designed by his architect wife. She used traditional Colombian building materials and techniques. It’s made of local wood and has a log cabin feel. I slept in his daughter’s room. The main attraction of her room is the shower, which is walled on three sides with glass. So you shower looking out into the forest. You better believe I kept one eye out for any curious gardeners, while washing my hair in the morning.

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On our way home, we took a few minutes to visit Tunja’s cathedral, off the main plaza.

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Old South American Catholic churches are amazing. I love seeing the creativity and reverence with which they were built. The carved wooden doors, the ornate paintings, the gilded statues and candle holders.

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There’s a sadness in them, too. I always find it sad to see the faithful praying on their knees, petitioning statues of saints who can do nothing for them.

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I definitely appreciate the churches as amazing works of art.

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No colonial town is complete without its plaza, and Tunja’s was typical of any South American city. And the crisp mountain air made the sky seem that much more clear and blue against the green hills.

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Along the road back to Bogota, we stumbled across a military ceremony for two men who had just been released after being kidnapped by the FARC guerrillas. We just caught the tail end of all the pomp and circumstance, but we got to hear the army band playing beneath a monument memorializing the last battle for independence from Spain. Here Spanish forces surrendered to Simon Bolivar and Venezuela, Colombia and Ecuador officially became their own country. They later separated into three individual countries.

This hill above the ceremony site reminded me of the fertile mountains surrounding Quito. As a child, I always thought they looked like a green patchwork quilt.

You can see the weather rolling in over the peak of the mountain.

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I finally got the Colombia photo I’ve always wanted:

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(You can see the evidence of Baby J’s impending appearance. The altitude didn’t bother him at all.)

I think that’s what most people think of when they think “Colombia,” although I’ve always felt very safe there. These young recruits were pretty excited that some foreign girl wanted to take a photo with them. Too bad my photographer cut off that guy’s big gun in the top left!

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