Iza, Dessert Capitol of Colombia
After burning tons of calories on the trails of El Cocuy, we found the perfect place to eat them back: Iza, dessert capitol of Colombia. This tiny village has 20 different shops all selling the same assortment of desserts. How do you pick a dessert shop when they’re literally all the same? You pick 2 at random and try out a few different cakes! The desserts aren’t worth a long detour, but if you’re already nearby it is worth a stop!
Lake Tota and Monguí
The largest lake in all of Colombia is Lake Tota. We stopped at a small Pueblito Viejo, or recreation of a small town, along the shores. We learned a bit about the indigenous tribes, conservation efforts as well as peering around the cute outdoor museum.
We had expected to spend a night or two in the area, but the area didn’t have many other activities to offer so we headed up to the village of Monguí. This is another of Colombia’s many charming villages, but we haven’t tired of them yet so we enjoyed a long walk through the village. We splurged on dinner at a nice restaurant and had interesting local dishes. Ben had fish from Lake Tota and Rachel had a curry like dish with vegetables from the Paramos (Andean high plains). We couldn’t name a single vegetable in the dish. The best was a purple tuber kind of like a yuca – anyone know this?!
Villa de Leyva
We spent 3 days in the charming and popular village Villa de Leyva. The claim to fame here is the largest stone square in Colombia, but there we many more impressive things to enjoy here. First up was the short but steep hike to a viewpoint of the city. The walk up was enjoyable and view was great, but we kept seeing a Bible passages spray painted all the way up with a big one on the Jesus statue up top. It seemed a bit odd to spray paint a religious figure this way, so we googled this later and it was anti-Idiology passages. Post hike we grabbed a beer at our first BBC Bodega and explored the many cute streets in town. The nice things with tourist towns is a lot of places for ice cream, and we found some great shops.
Just outside of town we went to the Casa Terracotta. This is basically a giant house shaped pottery project. Fun to explore and imagine living here!
Our last adventure around the village was a short hike to Paso del Angel. We have really enjoyed the Colombian countryside such as here.
Finca San Luis and the long drive to Medellín
We gave ourselves 3 days to do the drive from Villa de Leyva to Medellín. We had Spanish classes starting and didn’t want to arrive in the city frazzled from a long day on the road or in the dark. Our first night was at Finca San Luis in the middle of nowhere. It was a stunning property and the only downside was not having more time to spend here! The finca is a chocolate farm that also offers tours, but we didn’t have time to do that and make it to Medellín. The next day we covered half of the distance but most of the time since it was the gravel portion of the drive. The last portion of the drive into Medellín was a test of nerves. Colombians are some of the nicest people we’ve met but they get crazy behind the wheel. We were just getting used to Colombian style driving, but on a busy two lane highway it just gets crazy! And crazier yet in a city like Medellín – but that’s for another blog post.