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28 – 30 December 2013

After a relaxing afternon at the finca I got the bus to Arcabuco and from there another bus to Tunja – beautiful drives through the hilly countryside in great weather. From Tunja I wanted to take a nightbus to El Cocuy in the mountains. The holidays in Columbia last from mid December to mid January and in this period everybody travels a lot but many people had told me Cocuy was not a busy distanation – that turned out to be false. The first company was sold out and the other sent me to the bus stands to find a ticket seller – it took 20 minutes just ot realise that they were sold out too... It took another half hour to locate the ticket seller from the last company and fortunately he had a ticket – I think because this company leaves Tunja while the other come from Bogota. Some hours waiting time before we finally left at 9pm. I had been told it was a direct bus but that turned out to be a big lie – before we left Tunja we had stopped 4-5 times to pick up/let off people and this continued every 10-15 minutes for the next 7 hours and every time the lights were turned on. To get extra legroom I had a seat in the first row so I didn't get much sleep with all this “traffic” as well as music and constant talk amongst the drivers.... At 4am we had to change bus for unexplained reasons and then another 2 hours before we finally reached Cocuy. I walked around for 30 minutes just to realise that all hostels were closed, so when I finally found one open I didn't hesitate. Despite a lot of noise from the inhouse restaurant I managed to get a bit of sleep. After a shower I left the hostel at 11am – lots of people in the streets and a big party at the main square with stands, loud live music, etc. I walked around town for about an hour enjoying the weather, the old houses and the spectacular valley location. At the outskirts of town I came to trail leading up into the moutains so I spontaneously hiked that way for 2½ hours getting beautiful views of town, valleys and mountains... Back in town late afternoon I read a bit in my room before cooking dinner – I had been told it was no problem to borrow the kitchen, but the owner had not conferred with the restaurant cooks. They didn't say anything but I was (of course) obviously in the way... The party continued with extremely load music until 3am so I didn't get much sleep that night...

While walking around town the day before I had found another hostel so after a shower I changed accommodation. This hostel was much more familiar; run by a very friendly woman and here I could use the private kitchen. While having breakfast I talked to Chinese-American Xaq who told me he was going to do a 4-5 day trek in Cocuy National Park the coming days. The park is famous for a 7 day (loop) hike but he told me the trail was currently closed because of disputes with the indigenous people (also here!). I had initially skipped the idea of hiking the week trek because it's too long without a stove (I left mine in California) and I had been told it was impossible to rent gear in this small town. However, Xaq had found a place to rent a stove (and other gear for himself), so after having changed my bus ticket to Bogota we decided to hike together. We spent the rest of the day preparing for next mornings early departure getting park permits, food, equipment, etc. I packed most of my stuff and after dinner I went to bed early as we had to get up at 5am to catch the 6am milk truck...

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