Friday, March 1, 2013

Guatavita - Day 1 - from a horrid hotel to a lovely quiet haven

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We head off this a.m. from our noisy hotel.
Time for some peace and quiet.

I did have a brochure of places to visit, but I left it behind at dinner last night.
It is hard to research places in Colombia.
There are not nearly as many tourists or backpackers in the country.
There are definitely hardly any English speaking folk - just us Gringos.

As we step out of the hotel to get a taxi to the bus we try to get a cab.
I show him my paper of where we want to go.
I have worked out two towns to change buses at - or at least head to.

After 15 minutes, and two failed taxis, we find ourselves surrounded by Colombians.
One man with a little English, the rest with none.
All working out our buses for us.

He scribbles some notes.
He rattles off to the taxi driver where to drop us.
In Colombia you stand on a corner and get a bus.  There is no bus stop.
So we are dropped off.  
The taxi driver then tells the crowd in Spanish which bus we need.
A lady signals she is going there.
Instantly the little bus rolls up.

She helps us on with our bags.
We sit back as he tears along a dirt road that is getting hacked up for improvements.
This man jumps on and starts selling all sorts of things - 
each has its own speech with the quality of the items.
He is good.
I watch him self a stack of stuff - a great little business.
He has a hoarse throat from yelling over the bus motor, but he has made his money.

We get off with the lady.
She signals for us to watch our bags carefully.
She stops 2 buses, helps us on, the disappears.
Like an angel sent to guide us.
We sit in awe.

We go through some quaint towns including Sesquile, and then arrive at Guatavita.
A lovely lady (Miriam) signals us over and we tell her our needs for a hostel.
Being the start of the week many are closed.
This is important when noting country travel in Colombia.
Do not expect many hostels, or hotels to be open - it is their days off.
She gets a man to help us.
He races up hill with our bags.
I can barely keep up - give up - I can't.
I tell my son to tell him to stop "Pare".
They wait for me.
He takes us to the only hotel that is open.
It is horrid.
Now if you are on a budget, stay here "Hospedaje Calipso".
I check the bed for bedbugs - none.
The sheets are clean, the floor is marginally clean.
The rest is very, very B grade.
I beat him down on price.  I should have beat him down more.
If you stay here pick the last room at the back top passage.
At least the window opens and there is a view.

So we head around town and find a better place and make a deal for the next few nights.

We endure the first night and have a whopping fight.
We padlock ourselves in the 'jail' of a room.
This man took no passport details.
No-one apart from the lady and man at the bus stop know we are here.
I get nervous.
There are no light bulbs in the passage so we keep in from dark.
There is a kitchen, so I did make early dinner.
There is no Internet, so we get out the Tb drive and watch 2 movies.
I am up at 6 am and out of here.

This is the view opposite the first hotel.
It is all terracotta tiles, and white washed walls.

Lovely covered bridge - streets completely empty Monday to Friday.

This old man is here every day - so Colombian.

The next day the Colombian Ballet is making a movie.
We watch incredible dancing.
It is a treat to sit at a cafe and drink expensive coffee and Milo and watch this.

We wander down the lake with my son's new bow and arrow.
It is a 2 km walk there and back.
This is a quiet town.
We can catch up on our sleep - yeah!

 My son practicing his bow and arrow.
It is $75 an hour to take a boat out - we give it a miss.
Not a cheap town by the way.

We moved here.
It overlooks the lake.
We have a balcony on the other side.
The en-suite is huge.
The room has a flat screen TV.
There is no Internet.
But this is the best.
I would say it was renovated about a year ago.
The rooms are cleaned daily.
It is at the edge of town up the hill but easy to get to.
I highly recommend staying here.
In fact we will stay a few nights.
We need to relax, and it is so lovely in this colonial town.

Night two and the sun sets over the lake.
The cows are mooing, the sheep are baaing.
There is not a rooster in sight - so hopefully no crowing in the morning.
I think we have chosen well.
We really love this relaxing place - it is just what I need.

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