After navigating a few bus rides from Villa de Leyva we made it to Monguí. A small colonial town of about 5,000 inhabitants. Most of the houses are congregated around the dominating church at the center of town. It’s got a large beautiful, cobble stone square similar to Villa de Leyva’s with a few different touches. One being all the soccer ball shops. The hand made soccer balls are well-known throughout Colombia and they hang in almost every store.
We got into town late in the evening and almost everything seemed to be closed. Apparently arriving in the middle of the week in small towns such as this means going from hotel to hotel if no reservation was made. We asked the tourist info desk what the cheapest hotel would be and they pointed us in the direction of Terrazas hospedaje. We walked two blocks and arrived at a building with darkened windows. All of a sudden a guy comes running up the street saying this is his place and we can stay for the night. We quickly learned Monguí is not a tourist hub.
Regardless, we walked around with a beer, ate some fantastic pizza and enjoyed the light rain and warm light pouring out of the few stores still open.
The next day we got a better idea of why Monguí is considered to be a ‘classic’ colonial town. Similar to Villa, all the walls are white but the only other colors you see on the buildings are green and red. It feels a bit like Christmas anywhere you go. I mowed down some coffee, eggs and rice for about two dollars and we set off for a hike.
Heading out of town towards a beautiful stone bridge we hooked a left and followed the river to a more modern (less striking) bridge. We went left before crossing, thinking we were following the directions correctly and started walking up a path. Almost to the top of the first hill we found out abruptly we were heading into private property. Four dogs came pounding over the crest of the hill barking like mad. They immediately began biting Alaina (no punctures) and I got one swift kick in before the owner came running.
She told us that obviously we follow the right side of the river for the hike. We turned around, adrenaline pumping and found our way up the river to until we connected with the road again. Often with hikes in Colombia, you figure it out as you go.
Making our way to the top of the hill was slippery and tough. We passed a few sheep and their herder. With a brief break in the rain we caught some good views and our breath at the top. In every direction there were green hills spotted with small garden plots and rustic homes. In the distance looking up the mountain you could see Paramo Soto, and down below lay Monguí.
After descending, we took an alternate route back through farmland to town. Although its beautiful, we decided to move on after checkout. On the way out of town we got lucky and sat next to Ms. Maruja, an indigenous guide that takes people on amazing guides to the Paramo. She’s focused on taking smaller groups so she can educate them on the importance of paramos in the world ecosystem. Wish we would’ve had time to go with her on the trek. Next destination; San Gil, adventure capital of Colombia.