When I first arrived in Colombia, I had a general list of places I’d like to see and things I’d like to do. After talking with many locals, Villa de Lleyva was quickly bumped to the top of that list. So for the weekend of the kite festival, my friend Enya flew in from Barranquilla and her, along with two of my roommates Carmen and Tiphaine, and my Venezuelan friend Franz, we decided to go!
Villa de Lleyva is just 3 hours by bus outside of Bogotá and every July, it becomes host to Colombia’s biggest kite festival. Participants come from all over the country to compete and admire the beauty of the kites. Some are average kites that you can buy from your local outdoors store (i.e. Canadian Tire or Home Depot) but others are huge and come in a variety of shapes, with an abundance of streamers and bright colours.
We arrived early Saturday morning, just in time for breakfast. We found a cute French styled cafe and met up with some other travellers, one of which was an 18 year old boy named Ethan from the United States. Ethan was going into his first year of university but before starting that chapter of his life, he wanted to learn Spanish. What better way to do that, than in a Spanish speaking country?
Our day led us to a hike up the nearby mountain, which was absolutely beautiful, and we attracted a stray dog. Not going to lie, this dog was the cutest and I strongly debated bringing it back to Bogotá with me, as I do with most dogs. Unfortunately the hike was cut short due to a random storm. Everything was soaked and while we had only planned on a 3 day, 2 night trip, we didn’t have much backup on us. Regardless, we made the most of it. The Saturday night we found a really cool bar, very hip and with live music. Also, because of the kite festival, there were concerts happening in the main square.
On the Sunday, Enya and I took a bus out to an even smaller town for the day called Raquira. It’s claim to fame is being known as the pottery capital of Colombia. The town had buildings painted with bright colours and literally every shop was filled with thousands of pieces of pottery. We even stopped by one shop where a man was kind enough to teach us how to make some.
One of the most memorable things about this weekend was Ethan. You see, Ethan was only 18 years old and travelling by himself. He was by no means ‘jacked’ or ‘scary’, he was just your average 18 year old. From the time that Ethan arrived in Colombia until the time we met him, he was robbed twice and managed to escape two additional times. Most of which happened in Bogotá. His flight back home was the upcoming Tuesday from Bogotá, so me being me, took him under my wing and brought him home with me. We arrived back in Bogotá with Enya early Monday morning and we were actually up so early, that there were still people partying in the streets from the night before.
Before Enya’s flight back to the coast, I showed them around my neighbourhood, which is a generally nicer area of the city than what Ethan had previously seen. Now while I spent the remainder of the day doing homework, Ethan slept on my coach. He was probably the happiest little camper I ever did see, just so happy to have somewhere to stay other than a hostel and not have to worry about getting robbed again. That night, I took him out with some of my friends to a nearby food festival and I think it’s safe to say that his trip ended on a high note.
From all of this, I’ve learned that it never hurts to be kind and to show even the smallest bit of generosity. Small actions go a long way.