A Small Town in Colombia

I’m in a small town in central Colombia, just north of Bogota, Villa de Leyva. It’s just the sort of place dreams are made of; white colonial homes with red tiled roofs, the largest central plaza in Colombia, no cathedrals (the small parish church on the plaza seems just the right proportion), and cobblestone streets. I’ve been here a week and a half and have met a number of people, so when I walk down the streets and to the market, I am greeted and sometimes sit down for a chat or a beer.

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Photo Credit: Joanne Bretzer

The charm isn’t just in the physical beauty, but mostly in the people I’ve met here. Last night I sat out on the town square with a Colombian man  who has spent most of his last 30 years in Europe, mucking about doing interesting things. He is back with a desire in staying in this town, though he is from Bogota.The people I’ve met seem quite thoughtful and aware, and environmentally tuned in. A number of Europeans have settled here, making things like wine, beer, sausages, pasta, and such. You can even go gluten free if need be- there is a niche for that at the organic foods market on Thursdays and Saturdays.

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Photo Credit: Joanne Bretzer

It is 2 to 3 hours from Bogota, so flights to the States are relatively cheap and often. Also there is the big city, Bogota, with museums and culture when so desired.

It could be an interesting place to settle, but there is a strong interest in developing mass tourism, which of course will bring the end to its charms, and probably to its charming local citizens. I’ve seen it too many before, especially Miami Beach and Saigon.

The other big stumbling block for me is that though it is cheap now, once it becomes a bigger tourist magnet, the cost of living will go up. It goes up now on weekends when the cashed up people from Bogota arrive. The peso is very cheap to the dollar at the moment, but even a year ago it was 2/3 of what it is now. If it goes back, the cost of living increases by that amount.

The climate is perfect in terms of temperature, but there is a water shortage, so bad that the expensive hotels cannot use their pools. But maybe the positive side of that is lack of water may curtail development to some degree.

Anyway, that is the report for the moment. I’m heading to Bogota on Monday for a few days of museums and cathedrals, and then I’ll be heading west to coffee country and more little colonial towns.
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Photo Credit: Joanne Bretzer
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Photo Credit: Joanne Bretzer
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Photo Credit: Joanne Bretzer
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Photo Credit: Joanne Bretzer

 

3 thoughts on “A Small Town in Colombia

  1. Looks like a nice town – wish I was there. :) I know almost nothing about Latin-America but have been recently reading Latin-American authors (I’m learning Spanish) so this is very interesting to me.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s a beautiful town, and only a couple of hours from Bogota, which is a splendid city. It depends on your travel comfort, but I am staying in private rooms in hostels and I’m on a $40 a day budget.

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      1. Sadly it’s a long way from Europe! Although I’ve hatched a plan to see the three cities named Carthage someday (in the same trip and in chronological order, preferably). So that’d be the original Carthage near Tunis, Cartagena in Spain and then Cartagena de Indias in Colombia. Now once I got as far as Cartagena de Indias, it would be a shame not to explore further…

        Liked by 1 person

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