A drive to the airport and a visit to Zapatoca.

Trip Start Jul 04, 2007
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Colombia  ,
Saturday, July 21, 2007

Ana's Dad flew into Bucaramanga, so we took the drive up the mountain to pick him up.  Along the way you can see an amazing view of the cities below that are built in the old river basin between the mountains (cities of Bucaramanga, Floridablanca, and Giron).  After the car struggled up the mountain, we picked him up, and we made a stop in the nice section of Giron.  There are two very distinct sides of Giron, the one is a modern-day built section, but is mostly quite poor, and very crowded.  The other side of Giron is a huge contrast.  It is much like Tunja in that it is preserved as it was built probably hundreds of years ago.  The roads in the old/nice section of town, are terrible to drive on.  Some of the roads are so narrow, our car barely fit, the turns are extremely hard to traverse,  and the roads are cobbled, making it a very very bumpy ride in our basic little Renault 4. After getting through the maze of roads, we arrived at the town square.  At the square we stopped at a little desert store where we had some rice drinks (Avena, consistency of thick egg nog, white with a very distinct and great taste) and her dad had this slightly fermented fruit drink which I sampled, and it was very good too.  After that, we snapped a few pics in the town square, in front of the historic looking church, and we headed off to drop her dad off at the bus terminal.  At that point we were given the offer to join him a the farm for a few days, expenses paid, so we decided to take it.

The ride to and from the farm, is quite breathtaking.  It is by bus, and takes about 2 hours.  The bus goes up and down the canyon of Chicamoca.  The bus first goes through Giron, then through an area of small farms that grow mainly Tabacco, tomatoes, and citrus fruits.  After that, it becomes more of an desert-like area where a lot of fields of pineapple plants can be seen coming out of the ground.  After the pineapple region of the trip, the bus goes up and down the amazing canyon.  The roads were all dirt, but in the last year, most of the road has been paved.  For the most part, the road is without guardrails, and is a sure squeeze for two buses, or even cars to pass eachother.  I snapped a lot of shots that show the amazing view to the river at the bottom of the canyon, the mountain range in general, and how scary the roads really are.

For the last few days, I was with Ana and her dad at their family "farm."  The word farm is hard to use for it, but I don't know any that work better. Her dad just got a driveway "installed" to the farm, so the first time in its history, a car can drive right up next to it (if it can get up the steep hill that is).  There is some interesting fruits growing around the house, including plantains, limes, mandarin oranges, Guanabana, grapefruit, banannas, and guavas. The house we were at his about 200 years old, was a farm a long time ago, but it now serves as her dad's getaway from the busy city of Bogota.  Their farm is to say the least, rural. To get to the town of Zapatoca, it is about an hour walk, or about 20 minutes by car.  The next closest town is Bucaramanga which is about 2 hours away.  Though it is in the middle of nowhere, there are farms around it, but none that are overwelmingly close.  The nearest is about a 10-15 minute walk, but since that is a relative's farm, it's kinda nice to have it close.

We did take a car into town the one night, since we were bored, and were lacking food at the farm.  There isn't much to do there at night other than eat, drink, and play pool, so that's what we did.  It was my first time playing pool in Colombia, which is kinda impressive considering there are pool houses everywhere.  I thought Ana would be amazing at pool, since it's so popular amongst younger people here, since it's cheap and easily accessible, but it turns out, I'm actually a little better.  For those that have played pool with me, you should know this is pretty sad.  It took us forever, and a few beers, to play the game she wanted to play...  Next time we will play 8-ball instead since we are just too bad at the game.  It was a pretty safe looking pool house, contrary to most that I see, since they seem to be more popular in poor areas of cities and towns.  I felt 100% safe until I took the camera out.  After that, I kept my man-purse (I can't remember the name of them here, but they are distinctly male purses.) by my side in fear that someone would snatch my camera out of it.  After the pool house, we went to get some amazing bread, arepas filled with egg, and some cookies.  The bread here is amazing...I simply can't get enough of it. After that we went back to the farm.
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