Boyacá, green like you´ve never seen

Before going to our second volunteering where we would spend at least 4 days, as that was the trial period set by the owners, I guess to check if we were not lazy asses or some sort of psycho killers, we arrived to Villa de Leyva, another beautiful colonial village. We really love this architecture, and how the streets look like. Even though all these villages really look alike, we don’t get tired to walk around these streets.

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On paper, actually on email, our second volunteering experience looked amazing. It sounded exactly like the perfect opportunity to do one of the things I wanted to do most during this trip: learn about carpentry. According to the emails we exchanged with Maria Andrea, the owner of the place, we would be involved in outdoor building activities, and not just that but she also told me about a course they would do of basic carpentry for everyone interested, which would start during the time we’d be there. It was music to my ears.

If the emails were to be true, our work would have looked like this every single day:

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Unfortunately, this only happened one day, and not even for all day, and the only reason we got to do this stuff was because the guy hired to do it didn’t show up that day to work. This happened on a Thursday. We stayed there from Monday evening to Sunday morning. So what did we actually do there? Take a look:

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Well they didn’t lie when they said we would be working with wood, that’s true, but if they had told me that my main task would be to carry heavy tree logs up and down a hill, and that instead of the 4-5 hours they mentioned it would be rather 7-8, I wouldn’t have set a foot in that place. The purpose of Workaway, the site we used to contact these guys, consists in that wherever you go to volunteer, you get free time to explore the area, cause after all you are not a replacement of a full time employee, but rather someone that wants to learn something that the people asking for a volunteer have to offer. We were finishing work every day around 17:30h, and considering that it was dark by 18h, we didn’t get much time to go around, at least not much light time. We would still go out though, and when we’d come back and Andrea asked us if we had done this or that or if we had seen something, the answer was always ”no, cause it was already dark”. One day though, she took us to a nice cave 5 minutes away from the house called La Cueva del Indio, which was really nice. Then we went with her to the house of her neighbors, who had these crazy amazing houses built with bamboo.

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If the work was not the one we expected, at least the area was way more beautiful than we could have thought it’d be. The views to the mountains of Iguaque were astonishing, and when walking any path, no matter where you’d look, there was this beautiful green color everywhere, and those magical mountains one could stare at for hours.

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Nearby the house there was also a place called La Periquera, where one can follow a river and see the 7 waterfalls that are there to discover. On Friday, we were allowed to leave at 15h, so that we could go and see this place. Really amazing views. We only had time to see 2 of the 7 waterfalls though, but it was a great walk.

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A great thing, the best in my opinion, that happened to us there, was to meet Dionisia. Here she is in her kitchen, the pic is very bad, and no, the guinea pig was not her pet :).

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Dionisia was a real farmer from the countryside. One day that Andrea told us to go for a hike to a mountain with Dionisia, but it was obviously too late to go there, she invited us to her house, and showed us around her place. It was a really humble place, two little rooms, one little kitchen working on wood, and a dry toilet placed outside. But it was really charming and warm, and she was a lovely woman with billions of stories to tell. She invited us to a delicious curd she made, and then we enjoyed the city lights of Villa de Leyva that could be seen from her place up in the hill. Part of Dionisia’s way of making a living was to sell arepas and envueltos. Envueltos are made of corn and corn flour, and they look like this:

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Dionisia’s place had something weird though. Animals seemed to behave in a pretty strange fashion. This was the first place I’ve seen where chickens sleep up in a tree. They literally climb up that tree to sleep in the branches. It looked so funny, there they were, resting calmly.

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We had planned an excursion for the next day, so we asked her if she could prepare us few of each of these delicious treats. We left her house when it was dark, but a huge moon shined upon us. The sky was simply amazing, and the way back, besides some freaking dogs that would come out barking like crazy, was a really nice walk.

On Saturday we were supposed to go visit the mountain and lake of Iguaque, that we later learnt to be a national park, where we were told we had to go as it is an amazing place, where one can see a white sand beach in a lake at 3,100 meters above the sea level. Well things got a bit twisted here, and it was our fault. In the house, even if in their profile it read they had internet, they didn’t, and we didn’t check it before either. So when on Saturday morning, just to be sure, we asked Enrique, Maria Andrea’s husband, if we had to pay an entrance to the mountain, he told us that no. We decided to take 50k with us, just in case. After a little bus ride, a little walk up the hill and a car ride thanks to a guy that picked us up and brought us to the entrance, we realized that 50k were not even close to what we needed. It was 38k per each of us. We decided that one entering alone wasn’t going to cut it, so 5 minutes after arriving, we started our way down. We didn’t get to see the lake, but the way down had many great landscapes to offer us, and we had plenty of time to laugh pretty hard about the whole situation.

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Yes, the work wasn’t what we thought it’d be, we spent our free day going to Iguaque and back cause we had no money, we felt a bit like servants in the house, cleaning up after everybody in there, but it wasn’t that bad. We enjoyed a lot the views of this incredible region that is Boyacá and learnt that the tree logs that look long and heavy are indeed long and heavy.

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