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Fri Dec 13 2013: Walking the Camino Real

Just 50 kms south of the Chicamocha Park is the town of San Gil where we've booked a casa for a few nights. It's advertised as the adventure capital of Colombia because of all the natural structures - rivers for kayaking, caves for exploring, and lots of trails for hiking.

Catedral de la Santa Cruz is the most famous structure in San Gil
It's even on the back of the bus in this picture!

Ridley Scott commissioned this statue in the main square to commemorate his movie, Alien

Neda does some grocery shopping in the marketplace

This is the neighbourhood where our cozy casa was located

San Gil is a nice town, but nothing too special about it. Most people use it as a base to go on to do other activities in the area. We're here primarily for the hiking. Actually, Neda is here primarily for the hiking. I'm here because I followed her motorcycle...

Pretty town of Barichara

We took a bus 45 minutes out of town to Barichara, which is called "the most beautiful town in Colombia". Funny how every town or city has to have some kind of distinction around here, but in this case, it is definitely the most prettiest town we've visited in the country so far.

Church of the Inmaculada Concepcion, Barichara

Smooth cobblestone streets and a tranquil approach to life

Churches are made of stone, but the rest of the houses are traditional whitewashed walls made of bahareque (compressed mud)

Hangin' out by a door, waiting for it to open

Walking around the picturesque town

The Camino Real between Barichara and Guane is a very popular trail for hikers

The Camino Real trail is a 9-km hike that typically takes a couple of hours, and follows a rough stone path originally laid down by the indigenous Guane people, and then later used by the early Spanish colonizers. Unfortunately, very few of the Guane people are around as the conquistadors wiped the civilization out.

Spectacular views along the Camino Real

Normally, I'm the one that has a short attention span, but Neda: "oh look, a bird..."

We encountered a small shrine along the way. It's kind of pretty and creepy at the same time...

Camera is surgically implanted in my hands

Trail ends in the small village of Guane

Guane is a tiny pueblito, the same kind of architecture as Barichara but on a smaller scale. There was a mass organized for the day. Later in the afternoon, a priest gave out a sermon while we sat in the shade people-watching and enjoying being in tranquil surroundings on such a nice sunny day.

Stage being set up in front of the Santa Lucia church in Guane

"The first rule of Fight Club is..."

A marching band helped further the day's festivities

Flagbearer (Flagbear?)

The town square in Guane was filled with vendors selling local crafts

Hanging out with the locals

Plenty of people had their eyes turned to the sermon at the church

We had planned on riding out of town shortly after returning to San Gil, but I developed a pretty bad flu. There was a pregnant woman who was in the room next to ours in the casa. She was there on vacation, but was bedridden because of a condition with her uterus. On occasion she would leave the room to walk around a bit and we would nod at each other in the hallway, two infirmed patients in the Casa Medico.

When my symptoms persisted for four days, Neda got a bit worried and insisted that we call in a doctor, especially after what happened to Simon in Santa Marta. Despite my stereotypical male-aversion to medical care, I relented, and the local doctor was dispatched to our casa to determine whether I had The Dengue...

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