Tag Archives: Monasterio de la Candelaria

Villa de Leyva, Raquira and El Monesterio de la Candelaria, near Villa De Leyva

19 Oct Raquira


After thinking that finally I had a Bolivian stomach and saying it aloud..fate dealt me a blow by landing me with a bout of food poisoning..I blame some cheese in a leaf that someone gave me in a hostel..cheese should not be served in a leaf or it makes you ill.

Still what better place to be ill than the beautiful Villa De Leyva in Colombia which has one of  the biggest main squares in South America, even though it is a tiny little town.  It also has beautiful houses, all with red clay roof tiles and painted white, a top cathedral and for such a small town, some good museums (the best one for me was the Luis Alberto Acuna Art Museum which houses many paintings by this Colombian artist).  The town has been super busy the last few days as it’s the annual tree festival and the main square has been full of stalls selling trees.

After seeing the sights of Villa de Leyva I decided to go Raquira which is the pottery capital of Colombia.  It’s a nice little town with lots of painted houses and is full to bursting with pottery shops.  I did a walk to La Candelaria which is about 7 km from Raquira.  The walk itself, although it was along a road, is stunning.  The valley is beautiful.  Traffic is minimal.  One van and a scooter passed me the whole route, both called out “buenos dias” as they passed.

The monastery has a wonderful setting nestled between beautiful hills.  The guidebook said a monk would do a tour. This did not happen which was a bit disappointing as I wanted to talk about the life of a monk with a monk.  The guidebook said the tour was free.  This was not true.  God needs money in these hard economic times.  It now costs 3,000 pesos.  Still it is worth it to see the paintings around the cloisters and the strange room containing obsolete computers and projectors…I shared my tour with 22 school kids from a local school who seemed about as interested in the monastery as I would be interested in taking a vow of silence…

Transport in these parts is not easy.  I was advised by locals that there was a bus back to Raquira at 10.30am but after waiting a bit on the road for it I decided to ask another local who said that the bus wouldn’t be passing that day.  Still he offered me a lift back to Raquira so it all worked out..ended up having to wait 2 hours in Raquira for a bus back to Villa de Leyva (was glad I had a good book)…and felt a bit like a gringa again when the bus driver told me the bus definitely called at Villa de Leyva..but I know the route to Tunja as I came on it a mere few days ago..and this bus was going to Tunja not Villa de Leyva.  Managed to communicate this to the bus driver who said no problem he would flag down a lift back to Villa de Leyva for me….needless to say this didn’t work out..ended up having a long journey back to Villa de Leyva from a roadside cafe but still saved 1500 pesos so, on balance, it must be my face and the driver was really trying to help me out after all!!!

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