The White Village

February 16, 2012 § 5 Comments

Villa de Leyva is just a few hour’s drive from Bogota but in essence, both are thousands of miles apart. The New York Times posted this article on Villa de Leyva in 2009, which led me to do a lengthy web exploration of Latin America; the fascination finally depositing me in Colombia. And boy was I grateful.

This small town sits in a valley, surrounded by green and blue mountains. The streets are all cobblestone. The houses all whitewashed. The doors and windows, all a deep shade of green. The lanes and courtyards embellished with geraniums and electric bougainvilleas. On the outskirts of the town, on a slightly higher altitude, surround olive groves. And in the middle is Plaza Mayor, a vast expanse of multitudes of cobblestones, undulating in uneven waves. The plaza is fenced in by rows of two-story high houses, all with sloping red-tiled roofs. This is one of the largest town squares in South America.

Villa de Leyva was established in the 1500s, and is perhaps still as tranquil as it was back then. Thanks to it being a National Monument, its beautiful colonial architecture is well preserved.

I woke up in the morning to the smell of fresh bread baking down the street. Ran to get my fill before the current batch sold out. Then ambled around through the day, in a lazy pace that matched the town’s. I imagine that things get more hectic here during festivals but in their absence, especially on a week day, this place is an oasis of calm, a perfect retreat. It felt akin to being caught in a time warp, where time moves so slowly that its passing is hardly noticeable.

The evenings are something else. Sunlight caresses the large plaza and its wavy ground with such golden beauty. As the sun sets, the perimeter of houses is lit up with bright yellow lights – the white walls changing to ochre. The music fills everything up, drowning the local chatter.

Here I am now, playing my Villa de Leyva slideshow, with Clair de Lune floating in the room, every time I want to go back there.

Without a doubt, Colombia in one the most underrated destinations in South America. If you don’t agree with me yet, you will! – Just a few more posts down the road. Stay tuned, folks.

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