Warm and Colorful La Vega – Day Trip from Bogotá

Originally published in the Fenton Patch newspaper November 2012

mochilas 150 sqThere are many day trips available from Bogotá. You can escape the hustle and bustle of the city of eight million in any direction. Choices range from going further up in the mountains rising above the 8,600 foot level that the capital sets, or slowly travel down more toward sea level and enter into a world of warmth. Either way, a traveler enjoys fantastic mountain views. Sometimes it is small towns nestled in valleys. Other times it can be mountain tips poking through fluffy clouds.

Forget seeing franchised and commercial places to stop and eat. Instead small mom and pop style bakeries, coffee shops and parrillas welcome visitors to the area. Depending on your direction from Bogotá the parrillas will either be flat like our outdoor grills or will have meat attached to metal poles in a tee-pee style with a fire in the middle. For between $5 USD and $8 USD a patron receives a meal of a good portion of meat, potatoes, salad and a fruit drink.

Previously I wrote about Guatavita. This time my wife and I traveled with friends to La Vega. Heading out through the barrio of Suba we took the road Northwest. The new infrastructure of concrete four lane divided roads met us soon after putting the city in the rear view mirror. It is still a work in progress and within 20 minutes the two lane asphalt road that winds through the mountains greeted us. We climbed evermore upward as villages appeared below off the sides of the road often devoid of safety rails then they blinked away at the next bend. Soon the sign stretching high over the road informed us we had reached the apex. Now began an all downhill trip to our destination. “Watch how the plants and temperature change,” my friend told me as we started our descent.

La Vega fruit sellerIndeed things changed. More greenery filled our view. The warmth of being only seven degrees above the Equator felt good through the open car windows. Everyone in the car noticed a more fragrant fresh smell. We passed small stands selling mandarins. Every now and then appeared armed soldiers gave us a thumb up signal indicating all is OK. We returned the gesture as a thank you to them.

Only a green and white sign over the road giving notice of a slower speed welcomed us La Vega. The pueblo was initially founded in 1605 with the name of Cambata or Chambata. In 1994 they changed the name to San Juan De La Vega and now everyone just calls it La Vega.

We parked our car on one side of the public square which. In addition to the typical statues of long deceased heroes and leaders the area contained a small stage for concerts. As expected the church anchored one side of the center park of the town. It is proper etiquette to visit first the church when arriving. We went in, admired and said a short prayer for our safe journey. Outside, vendors of many kinds greeted us with bright colored merchandise.Inside of church

But it was lunch time so our next stop was an outdoor restaurant surrounded by foliage, flowers, birds and dogs. The meat cooked over a charcoal and wood fire on an outdoor grill hit the spot – well that and a couple Aguilas (Colombia brand of beer).

Next stop; a kind of real estate office. Basically it was a small place listing homes and lots for sale both in La Vega and other towns. My wife and I thought the prices a little high.

It took about an hour to slowly walk the entire downtown and admire the many items for sale. We could not leave before first stopping at a panaderia (bakery)/coffee shop to enjoy a round pastry with bocadillo (sweetness made from fruit) inside called roscones resobados that La Vega is known for.

Share the trip with me by taking a look at the accompanying photos.

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