I arrived in Barichara after a 45-minute bus trip from San Gil, where nothing hinted at this colonial masterpiece. The village lies on the side of the hill, which descends into the Suarez River Canyon to the east. Green mountains lie on the valley’s other side. A river meanders through the valley. There’s no easy way down.
Walking around Barichara involves walking up and down hills. Stone paved streets, lined with white houses, who’s windows are framed in green, blue and brown, with coloured wooden doors to match. Some have dark brown, earth coloured stone blocks, which match the streets. Several two-story houses have balconies overlooking the town. Rust red tiled roofs add to the away from it all feel.
I climb to a park overlooking the town and the valley. One step and I almost sprain my ankle. Making my way to a store, the owner sits me down with my drink, and we talk. He’s been to New York, but likes it here better, who wouldn’t.
With my foot fine, I bid goodbye and head back to the centre and it’s palm-filled park. Colourfully painted Tuk-tuks, yes you read it right, sit waiting for riders.
It is time to photograph the large, two steepled sandstone church on across from the park. A high ranking police officer walks beside it and spots me. One doesn’t want to deal with a Colombian cop. He starts walking away and then turns towards me and smiles, the type of smile that says, “I’m not here to hassle you.” After some inquiries, followed by some tourist questions, probably for the local tourist board, he compliments me on my Spanish, hands me a waterpark flyer and departs.
It’s late afternoon and time to see the valley. A road runs along the canyon edge and is a great place to grab some photos. It’s best at sunset when the haze lifts and the green hills show their power.
If you find Barichara just too big and too busy, Guane, a village in the valley, awaits. I come across a cross with three black vultures as I walk towards the village. A great picture awaits. I snap a photo and then try to move closer. Well, even vultures don’t let you get too close unless you’re dead. They open their wings; I step back, so they don’t fly away.
As I continue down towards my destination, a bus stops. The driver offers me a ride, no charge. We talk in Spanish, a great opportunity for me.
Guane makes Barichara look like a metropolis. It’s small square, with the obligatory park, is lined with one-story buildings, some made of stone. Goats and chickens roam the back streets where dirt mingles with large stones, where pressure hides and time slows.