The Hike Not Taken: Barichara, Colombia. November 2009

Once I saw the landscape around Barichara, I wished we had time to do the hike that descends to the nearby village of Guane. The streets of Barichara slope upward, with a beautiful little park with palms and cactus at the top of the town. From this park, you can look into a tranquil green valley below. Around sunset, the mountains in the distance look like blue waves flash frozen in place.

We would have had to spend another night in Barichara if we did the hike, and that would have been okay with me. Barichara was one of my favorite places in Colombia.

Founded in the 1741, Barichara is all terra cotta roof tiles and whitewashed walls. Its quaintness is not accidental. There are rules in place, but the effect is lovely. There's not much to do, but walk the hilly streets and perhaps take a dip at la Piscina, a little natural pool near a camping ground.

We spent a Friday night in Barichara, seeing some SUVs with Bogotá plates arrive. Barichara apparently draws a lot of weekend visitors from the capital and from Bucaramanga, a large Colombian city north of Bogotá. Barichara is supposed to have great restaurants. Many of the noted ones were closed during our short visit, but we had a wonderful meal at Restaurant Las Cruces. (More about what we had at Las Cruces in this posting.) We persuaded our waitress to let us stay out on the patio where we'd sat first for a drink, instead of moving to a more formal little patio. On the patio, we were able to let a friendly Barichara resident join us. This little black-and-white dog followed us through the city and hung out during our meal. He looked like a house dog out for a lark. He didn't beg for food, but seemed to only want a little company.

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