Monday, June 19, 2006

June 18, 2006

As I type this on a truly glorious father’s day, I’m in a finca (country house) that we rented for the weekend. In fact, more accurately, I’m sitting in a hamocka (hammock) and resting contentedly before I start up the barbeque for lunch. Pleasantly listening to the Gypsy Kings as well. Nothing like a little “Bem, bem, bem Maria” or the soothing melodies of “Allegria”. Not to shabby for a bunch of Spaniards.

At any rate, the finca is about 70 kilometers in the direction of Medellin – which is more or less northwest. The house is a modest three bedroom property with a private pool, a barbeque pit, numerous areas for lounging (ahem, drinking) and a very calm atmosphere.

The finca is sandwiched amidst a variety of medium sized mountains and it just has the feel of a place that one could never experience in the US. In fact, this place vividly reminds me of a scene in Contact when Jodie Foster’s character was in Central America, a tropical place, and it started raining suddenly to relieve the humidity. That’s happened twice already. It’s totally amazing to be swimming in the pool or sitting in a deck chair and then suddenly, with no warning, it’s a downpour for the next 10 minutes.

The drive through the mountains was one of the most visually impressive experiences I’ve had in my life. Never had I seen such vividly green valleys, sharply rising peaks, and scenic views that stretch for miles. Each bend of road revealed new scenery, new details, and new pueblitos (small towns). Leaving Bogotá gives on a more authentic Colombian experience. Of course, living in the big city is great, but to truly see how most of the people live, well, traveling to the country shows a different Colombia.

In some senses, the country reminds me of the Cotswold in England. The Cotswold is a vast hilly plain (similar to the llanos here) that engulfs the southwestern portion of England (and by England, I mean, England – not Whales or Scotland or the entire UK). The plain is beautiful and stretches for miles…much like the plains here in Colombia. The difference, of course, is that when you’re amidst the Andes, you can see the vast expanse of terrain in all of its beauty from an ideal vantage point.

Truly, Colombia is one of the most beautiful places in the world. As far as I know, no other country has the mixture of terrains that Colombia has. The country has deserts, swamps, jungles, plains, mountains, snowcapped peaks, and fantastic beaches. It has hills and valleys, farms and cities, and everything in between. With the possible exception of China (I only know what I see from kung fu), I don’t think another country in the world has the same mixture. As they say, “Colombia, Que lindo pais.”


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