In Boyaca Again

We go to Boyaca because there is in me a love for it. On the bus I hear them talking and I love the way the Boyacenses talk. One sees the ugly buildings, but one knows the bricks are local, purplish and beautiful. And there are nice things, nice buildings and colonial picturesque scenes and visages. As well, they tend to treat you friendly, which is not everywhere the case.

We went to Paipa, which is within close range of Bogota and has become a center of tourism. They make interesting cheese there, they sell good woolen goods, they have really good potato chips–but then, this country has really good potatoes anywhere you go and that’s the secret to anything potato–and they have thermal springs.

Water coming hot out of the ground with unusual mineral content is regularly sought after by human beings in all the world for its . . . alleged medicinal value. One day someone is going to catch on to it and say: look, the unusual mineral content of the water entering your water softener, heated up, could do the same thing for you. Then it will all be over.

But we enjoy it for now, especially since the water in Bogota is so pure most of the time and we don’t have a tub. The circumstances are fine out there in Paipa. You can spend all day at the pool and though it isn’t as hot as at the spring–in Boyaca the folks can’t seem to handle the water too very hot, you’ll always hear a yokel sucking his breath and entering very gingerly no matter how tepid the particular pool is, with exclamations–one can nevertheless find something warm enough, if not ideally nearly unbearably hot.

The thing to watch for is the deadly tropical sunlight. It isn’t ever hot in the highlands, but the sun can be most rudely direct. What’s the line by the Swan of Avon about cheeks wantonly ravished by Phoebas burning kisses?

Speaking about the weather, the clouds come over and the rains sometimes descend. I asked about it with the lightning more in mind, and the clerk at the hotel told me nobody ever got out of the pool, that the change of weather was agreeable, another amenity. It seems nobody has ever yet been fried by lightning while bathing there, which is a plus.

Hotels they have, in all varieties. You get a room, parking (we live in a country where it is considered an amenity still), color TV and an American breakfast–not a Continental which is no true breakfast. Now the thing is wireless, and they claim that too there. They even have a hotel there that has an elevator. The more expensive hotels are the more colonial looking ones, should you be angling for or against the idea.

The whole place is a resort, with all the ups and downs of such: tourist shops, fast food places (did I mention the potato chips with this new-discovered garlic sauce?), expensive-ish restaurants and even good coffee. There are places to walk, a lake, a cathedral, and all the rural joys of Boyacense city life.

Then it was Sogamoso. I love the streets of Sogamoso. I wish I lived in Sogamoso. It has everything, except a job for me and so I can’t go back and live in Sogamoso. I almost stayed in Sogamoso, but we left. I wanted to read and you can’t always count on ideal circumstances for reading in Colombian hotels–at least not in the kinds we tend to end up at. Katrina scoured the town for some Salsa Güache she took a fancy to in Paipa. Made in Sogamoso. Didn’t find it. Reason to return.

I talked to the driver on the way back. He is a Sogamoso man from barrio Colombia just two blocks west of the glorious terminal. He had two phones: one crowed like a rooster and the other croaked like a frog. Bit of a nature lover, I reckon. And speaking of noises, he had a flash drive full of low-quality Mexican music, at least three hours’ worth. Curious about Mexico, he was. Curious about the world after a while. Wondered if the world weren’t half and half land and sea. It was my privilege to make the three hour journey profitable to his understanding by setting him straight on that score. I learned something as well. I had never seen a man more ingeniously thrifty about his tooth-pick. It served him first for the rather prolonged cleaning of his ears, after which he cleaned it off with a bit of paper and then proceeded to make more traditional use of it in his mouth. Now where have you ever witnessed such a deft trick?

Then we were back. And I am sorry it is so as Colombian life in general makes much more sense outside of this city.


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