Since we wrote last time, we lived through a wealth of experiences, but no worries, many positive ones - gracias a dios! This last part is a saying which is very very common here in Colombia. When you ask someone how he/she is going, the answer will 99,9% of the time be: Bien, gracias a dios - well, thanks to God. Colombians do not seem to be constantly going to church, but have strong catholic roots. Also in the schools, the morning starts with prayer. But let’s go step by step:
The part of Colombia that we are traveling through has still not seen a drop of rain (not gracias a dios). It seems that the only time that it actually rained during our travel was when we were campíng outside without tents, just in sleeping bags...of course it had to be then… so maybe we should repeat this procedure just to bring rain to the town where we are staying at right now: Santa Sophia. Water is “Mangelware” as we would say in German - something like “dearly missed” - A state which is common amongst all towns we passed through lately. In Guapota the water was even ‘cut’ between 16h and 7h in the morning. So impossible to take a ‘goodnight-shower’. To have enough water for brushing their teeth, flushing the toilet, cooking or alike, people collected baskets of water before 16h. Fortunately, we always managed so far to find enough water also for the horses, but it is really extremely dry.
In one of the schools we even had to interrupt an activity to run and help extinguish a fire!! First people thought that it was started by someone on purpose,but later found out that one of the electricity lines over the field sprayed sparks and as everything was so dry, had ignited the fire. Here was no fire brigade, apparently it does not exist in small towns...but only people and the police -and us,- trying to extinguish the fire by beating it with wooden sticks!Luckily it got under control after a few hours....
Yesterday, we passed from Santander to Boyaca, setting foot onto another department in Colombia - literally, because we were actually hiking. One of our horses, Poseidon, started having an inflammation on his back, actually caused by heat. Therefore, he can still walk (gracias a dios) but cannot carry anything, not even his own saddle. Hence, the monster (we named our third horse monster because it was nasty to the mule at the beginning) was carrying two saddles, one heavy backpack, our clothes roll and our and their (the horses’) food, while the mule was packed with the usual two backpacks, two paragliders, the telescope tripod and the bucket. And us- well, we were walking. The first daily distance was short: from Guepsa to Barbosa, and we thought ‘hey, walking is actually not that bad for a change’. But then, we decided to hike from Barbosa to Santa Sophia. Along small mountain paths, this distance is probably around 35-40km. The best idea if you have about the same number in temperatures (35-40) between 10am and 4pm (at least). But no problem, since we were hoping to arrive finally to colder areas - as we are starting to enter ‘Tierra fria’ (cold earth) - at least this is what Colombians have been telling us ‘soon you will get to Tierra fria.’ - As if!! Santa Sophia lies now on about 2300m but day temperatures are equally devastating - at least for Kira. At night, it’s true, they finally drop and we can take out our wonderful Salewa primaloft jackets (Marja at least, as she gets cold so fast). But the heat was not the only challenge yesterday. Marja’s ankle has still not recovered perfectly and hiking that long and strong, was definitely very enjoyable... Plus, Kira had an ankle injury a while ago and also started having problems. But the mind seemed to be stronger and we made it to Santa Sophia.
At 7pm (after starting about 12 hours earlier), we were extremely lucky to find a wonderful family who offered us a place to stay and an open field for our horses. And they were so so nice! They spoiled us with homemade soop and rice and afterwards we solved the english homework with one of their little daughters. Colombian families are so welcoming. Even when they don’t seem to have enough for themselves, they are so generous with visitors. This family actually lived in a shared house and they all shared one room to sleep: the parents and three kids. The landlord lived in a room nextdoor and left us another room with a bed that was free. Maybe he rents it out normally, we don’t know, but they just offered it to us. We are so thankful for meeting all these wonderful people that definitely make us forget the theft a million times. Thank you Colombia, Thank you Colombian people - you are fantastic!