Monday 3rd August 2015
The paradise view outside of La Esperanza in the morning
I waited for the lechero coming at 8am going in the direction of Guican which could drop me at a section from which I could walk to the West Part of the El Cocuy National Park, towards Cabana Kanwara. My idea was to go hike to Laguna Grande de Los Verdes and Ritacumba blanco. While waiting, I said good-bye to Aline and Kevin who were going hiking to La Cueva – Laguna Grande de la Sierra from there. They seemed very well prepared with their hiking clothes and gears. They joined 4 French guys who on the other end looked a bit like the Sunday hiker. One was in hiking clothes and had a small pack on his back. The three others were in jeans and basket with not that warm clothes, one carrying a guitar around him. Knowing that road I had come from and how long it was, even for fast hiker, and how quick the weather could change, I was wondering how they would handle it, and wish I could be there that evening when they would come back! But hey, that really shows that there are 100 ways of going hiking in the mountains!
The lechero arrived around 8am and I jumped in and went at the front. I put my arms on the fence and my head on it and had the wind in my face and enjoyed the ride and the landscape, more happy than ever. It is so nice in some countries to still be able to stand like this in the open air at the back of a truck just going for a ride, taking in whatever landscape come. I am never more happy than when I am on the move, the wind coming on my face like this and the landscape around being so beautiful. This ride had the same effect on me as when I am sitting on a dive boat in a wetsuit and the boat keeps going ahead bumping on the waves. True moments of happiness.
This lechero was a bit different, it had a massive sophisticated tank this time, of a capacity of 2,300 liters I learned. Here is Victor, the lechero man, pouring the milk people bring him along the way.
He told me that he gets paid the minimum monthly wage of Colombia which is 600,000 COP, the equivalent of 300 AUD. Per month. I could not help reflect on the massive gap it is with the minimum wage in Australia of 640.90 AUD per…week. Alright, people don`t have the same expenses when paying their rent, buying their food, commuting around. But still, what a huge difference.
The landscape around.
Arriving at La Capilla, a small village there.
There we loaded empty beers. I counted how many, about 600 empty beers. I asked and was told that it was all drunk in one evening from 4pm to 11pm on the Saturday night before, by 20 to 30 people. Wooo. So, wait, if we think of 30 people drinking 600 beers, that´s an average of 20 beers each. In 7 hours. About 3 beers per hour, one beer every 20 minutes, non stop for 7 hours. I felt it was a lot, but hey, maybe that`s the same in London? Sounded lots to me though! I imagined all those men (and women) were still happily sleeping while we were loading those beers on the trunk!
Paying the milk or something to the man who brought it.
Loving the ride and the awesome landscape!!!
Funny sheep, curious about the lechero.
Other people, bringing their milk.
The girl helping Victor whose name I don`t know, writing down in her notebook the number of liters brought by each person.
Nice, nice, nice.
And here I was, at the bifurcation where the lechero dropped me around 10am.
Bye lechero, safe way!
Some of those trees here look crazy. Locos as it is said in Spanish.
So I hiked and hiked up, me the slow walker, took me about 2h30 to get there ahah. Beautiful landscape though, and nice weather, I was in T-shirt that morning!
First time I saw some pine trees around.
Cows too were curious.
So many shades of green.
At some point while approaching some house, this puppy arrived, very friendly, and kept playing with me and following me for a while. A pure contrast with the scarry horrible aggressive dog I had seen on my walk to the waterfall in Minca.
Saw that big funny fat golden bee on the floor while walking.
Walking up on the road.
After 1h45 walk, saw in the distance the post of control of the entrance to the national park for this area.
Little grey bird seen while walking.
Got there, got registered, and then walked to Cabana Kanwara. Small chalets that look like somewhere in Europe.
Unfortunately, there was no one around! I had a feeling of “deja vu” when I saw this lock on the door.
So I went back to the post of control and asked the guy and he told me that they were on holiday but that I could sleep at Posada Sierra Nevada, so I walked towards that place.
A man came to meet me and welcomed me. With his wife, they showed me around and took me to a room where I left my bag. I asked if it was possible to have some lunch and was served nice food with a Lulo fruit juice.
I spent the afternoon under the roof outside of their house editing the photos of the previous days, chatting with the woman Rosa, who was taking care of a 3-month baby boy Jose Luis, son of her third daughter Laurena.
The rain was falling and I was glad to just hang around rather than go hike somewhere.
I became friend with their 3 dogs, whose names I don`t even know. Dog 1.
Dog 3, a young puppy of 4 months.
These dogs were so cute.
Here was the landscape in front of me which kept changing constantly. Without fog at 3.01pm
With fog at 3.07pm
Later, I put up my wet tent to get it to dry in an area where they had tables ready to welcome lots of hikers. It was convenient to be the only tourist and be able to do that!
In the evening, I joined them in their kitchen, Maria was cooking the dinner on firewood, and on the benches around were Luis her husband, Maurices his brother and his son Andres, Laurena, Seraphin her husband and Jose Luis the 3-month baby boy and the brother of Laurena whose name I forget, and me. I felt like part of the family, fully welcomed. It was an authentic Colombian experience to share the meal with them, even if I was paying as a guest in a hostel. I was glad that Caban Kanwara was closed. It would have been more comfort to have a small chalet all by myself, but it would definitely not have been the same warmness in experience with the people I got here. Luis offered to go to Laguna Grande de Los Verdes horse-riding together the next day, which I got really excited about!
After dinner, went to my room and read a bit on my Kindle about the Robert Louis Stevenson story of his trip with a donkey in the Cevennes mountains of France in 1878. I could not help laughing at the issues he got with his donkey and remembered the jokes we had with workmates before I left who had told me to NOT get a donkey while in South America.
After that, slept!