|Cabrera town square|
It not only takes a long time to get anyplace here, it's also hard to get information sometimes. So despite the fact that several guide books/online sites spoke about a 2-4 day hike between these small towns, information on the actual routes and accommodations in each spot was difficult to find -- for example, despite multiple inquiries to various tourist type places, I hadn't been able to find out if the pueblo of Cabrera had any kind of accommodations at all. However, upon hearing that we were looking for a place to stay, our friendly San Gil-to- Cabrera bus driver immediately called someone in the pueblo and had rooms for us booked at the one place in town. I needn't have worried!
Cabrera was cute! The few kids who were playing around the main square practiced their English with us: "Hello!" "Hi!" "How are you?" We also got to see the only other thing happening in town that night: a "tejo" game, a national sport based on an indigenous game. In a way it's kind of like horseshoes (or for the younger crowd, cornhole) -- you have to throw a little metal disc into a box of clay. In the middle of the box of clay is gunpowder, and if you hit it right you set off a little explosion. Fun!! Add to this the fact that everyone drinks beer while playing, and you have a *really* fun time. Alcohol plus gunpowder--gotta love it!?!?
We started our trek the next day along the Camino Real, a trail originally used by the indigenous Guane people and then later by the Spanish. It was rebuilt in the late 1800s and still pretty well maintained. Our first 30 minutes or so of the trail was pretty much straight up -- great way to start the day! The plan was to hike ~2.5 hours to Barichara, known as "Colombia's prettiest town", but we ran into some locals partway along who gave us a ride half way to Barichara, and who were we to say no?
|Melanie & the "chismosera"|
|Unfortunately, not edible|
|Planting seeds by hand|
After about an hour I sat down by the side of the road to have a little breakfast. As I was eating, a hiker (obviously a foreigner) walked by & asked if I was going to Jordán. "Yes! We'll see each other in Jordán or on the road!" I finished my breakfast & caught up with the guy a short ways later as he was asking directions of a local. Turns out Bert was a Swiss grad student, and while we started speaking in Spanish, I asked him if he wanted to speak Spanish, English or German. At first when he just heard Spanish or English, he chose Spanish; but then when he heard he had a 3rd choice, he said, "You speak German?" "Yes" "Why??" "Gute Frage!" :) So we spoke German. (While it is hard for me to switch from one language to another, in the past several months I've had more opportunities to speak German while living in Colombia, so it's getting easier. Still there are times when my brain knows it should speak "foreign" but pops out a German word instead of Spanish, or vice versa, and I get some funny looks. But it's getting better....!)
|Checking out the descent...|
The hike down was fine--not a lot of shade but some neat cactii, birds (vultures!) flying around, a snake even. Once at the bottom we passed a "caiman" farm; we chose not to enter but it also brought back up one of those "Oh, I thought someone *did* say something about caimans & I thought maybe I misheard." Nope, alligators. Presumably not native.