this is where we saw the dinosaurs
21.02.2010 - 22.02.2010
Our little stop was in Villa de Leiva, a colonial town about 3 hours north of Bogota. On a Sunday (the day we left) Bogota transforms itself into activity central and many of the roads are closed to cars and are instead flooded with walker, bikers and rollerbladers. It is quite impressive and we saw a lot of people raising their blood pressure as we departed.
We arrived at Villa de Leiva in the late afternoon and walked through a large part of it in of search a room. The buildings are very similar to those we saw in Popayan, white and a lot of them single storey. Villa de Leiva's biggest claim to fame though is their plaza which apparently is one of the largest in the Americas and there was a giant inflatable space shuttle in it while we were there.
This is just a weekend thing though, when the town comes alive as it is flooded with tourists and weekenders from Bogota. We just caught the tail end of this as it was Sunday afternoon but you could definitely feel that it was a tourist orientated place, which gave it a very different feel from Popayan. Also for this reason finding cheap accommodation was basically impossible and we ended up spending more than we have anywhere in Colombia. It was a nice room though.
We achieved very little for the rest of the day apart from feeding ourselves. I never thought that I would get sick of eating out but it really has happened and so we try to mix it up with going to the supermarket but when you have no cooking facilities your options are somewhat limited. I have to say though the tuna and mayonnaise sandwiches I gobbled down that night were like an amazing treat.
By morning we had already come to the decision that we would move on again in the afternoon. For this reason we got up quite early so we could have a proper look round the town which didn't take too long as it isn't very big.
We saw a sheep tied to a fence and stopped to have a little chat, I of course had to touch it. Then we had to leave pretty quickly because it was baa-ing at us a lot and I was getting sad that it didn't have any friends.
We briefly looked in a few of the artisan shops but decided it would all be overpriced. After our look round we went back to the hotel to collect our bags and went in search of a taxi as there was one other thing we wanted to see before leaving.
The valley to the west of Villa de Leiva is abound with fossils and in 1977 they found the fossil of a a dinosaur, a Kronosaurus. It now has a museum built around it and after some hard bargaining we got a taxi to take us there. I wasn't quite sure what to expect and was really impressed when I saw it, it's massive and really quite well preserved.
We were the only ones there so we could get photos without other visitors which is nice and there were lots of other fossils to have a look at.
They found another Kronosaurus fossil in 2000 which has also been placed in the museum, this one is a bit smaller though. They were strange looking things which lived in the sea when the whole valley was underwater, hard to believe anything like that ever existed.
After our little historical interlude the taxi took us back to the bus station and we made the 45 minute journey back to the town of Tunja which sits of the main highway north. Here we managed to secure a couple of seats on a pricey bus to Santa Marta which was leaving in an hour or so. Just enough time to eat a rather disappointing almuerzo and by some snacks for the trip. The sting from the price of the tickets was somewhat eased when we boarded the bus as it was very plush, certainly the nicest we'd been on in Colombia. We just hoped the next 16 hours went by quickly.
Laura & Adam