Black-and-White Cows, Green Fields and a Salt Cathedral: Sáchica to Zipquirá, Colombia. November 2009.

The journey sometimes is better than the destination. My husband and I set out on a Sunday morning from the tourist spot of Villa de Leyva for one of Colombia’s big attractions, the salt cathedral at Zipaquirá. Luckily for us, we missed the direct bus connection between the two cities.

Instead, we got a taxi from Villa de Leyva to a spot on the highway and then flagged down the local blue Reina bus. We enjoyed the nice slow Sunday ride through Colombian countryside, including green pastures dotted with black-and-white cows. (I had to borrow this image from the tourism Web site for Ubate, the dairyland (lechera) of Colombia. None of my shots from the bus window worked out.)

The Reina bus brought us into a different Colombia than we had seen the day before in Villa de Leyva, a upscale weekend getaway spot for wealthier Colombians. One of the delights of Colombia had been hearing local music all the way from Cartagena on the northern coast to Villa de Leyva, not far from Bogotá. These songs are heavy on the accordion, and full of references to Colombian places.. Cartagena, Medellin, Santa Marta, Barranquilla. In Villa de Leyva, we heard “Guantanamera” and other Cuban music, including a cut from the recording that made the Buena Vista Social Club famous. We even heard Bob Marley. Excellent music, but nothing different from what we might hear at a weekend getaway town in any bourgeois place anywhere on this planet. Colombia’s bouncy music, such as vallenato songs, is its own thing in a world that can be a little too “global” at times.

The blue Reina bus stopped frequently, letting people on and off. David and I were touched when an older couple got on together. Older people sometimes dress a little more formally in Colombia, as did this couple. The man wore a suit with a hat. The woman too wore a kind of a fedora with a nice black sweater and skirt. Perhaps they were running an errand after Mass. The man held a container, not unlike the one carried by this man in the picture to the left. He also is wearing a nice hat while biking. The older couple were on the bus only a short time. Then another older man got on, wearing a suit with a turtleneck sweater and carrying a leather satchel.

At the end of our journey, the lovely main square of Zipaquirá turned out to be more to our liking than its big attraction, a cathedral made in a salt mine, shown in the last shot.

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