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It seems we can only go so long without a trip. When I think ‘trip’, I think Latin America, South America — in other words a blast of rich culture somewhere else very different from here. Here is Vancouver, Canada.

There is something about staying here too long. You feel you loose perspective and that your reality is too limited or somewhat unreal. Monotomy settles in.

It wakes you up when you go somewhere really different. Seeing how other people live and their struggles brings a more complete reality in my mind. It forces you to look at what you want to focus on in life.

We’re planning a trip for January 2011. Maybe Peru, maybe Bolivia. Reading through a South America travel book but I’d really like to find some good blogs by travellers who’ve been to those places. We’d also like to volunteer, we can only do 2 weeks, with a low key organization — not the ones that charge $2000.

Can you suggest any links to travel blogs by individuals who have travelled to Peru or Bolivia? And organizations that you’ve volunteered with? Thanks!

Laura.

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This was some of the noisemakers that went on for days and seems to still be going on but with less frequency.

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Continuing with our travel account of two years ago…this one of the places in Colombia.

What can I say? Villa de Leyva (or Leiva) was a great place. It offers a wonderful escape from Bogota and is only four hours away. If you want peace, quite, safety, charm and nature, then you must spend a few days in this colonial town. I highly recommend it. We were instantly charmed and pleased.

This is a small, sleepy town — at least in February it is. When you get off the bus and walk down a street the plaza will be one of your first sights. It is a strange plaza and there is certainly a story here but of course two years after the fact I don’t remember it. As you can see below, it is huge and is surrounded by a church, municipal buildings, and commercial enterprises.

Plaza at Villa de Leyva, Colombia

Plaza at Villa de Leyva, Colombia

Large stones delineate the square from the cobble stone streets. Inside, the plaza is empty. The town is set in a valley. Temperatures were comfortable for this time of year.

Street with valley in the background, Villa de Leyva, Colombia

Street with valley in the background, Villa de Leyva, Colombia

One of the many charming streets in Villa de Leyva, Colombia

One of the many charming streets in Villa de Leyva, Colombia

One of the many commercial centres in Villa de Leyva, Colombia

One of the many commercial centres in Villa de Leyva, Colombia

There were several “centros comercial” in this little town. They are buildings with courtyards that house businesses — gift stores, art stores, restaurants, etc. There was nothing garish in this town. I believe it is designated as an historical town and so it adheres to strict building and painting codes. Everything is white and doors and window trims are green.

Young soldiers in Villa de Leyva, Colombia

Young soldiers in Villa de Leyva, Colombia

Soldiers…young soldiers were plentiful in the town. As you can see above, they donned serious assault rifles (AK 47s). Their job is to keep the peace and perhaps protect tourists. They never bothered us. But they are extremely young and that is a bit scary considering what they’re carrying.

Selling soup at the market in Villa de Leyva, Colombia

Serving soup and corn at the market in Villa de Leyva, Colombia

Traditional costume for women is to wear the black hats as seen above.

Men at the market in traditional attire, Villa de Leyva, Colombia

Men at the market in traditional attire, Villa de Leyva, Colombia

Traditional for men is to wear wool ponchos and hats. At the market there was one vendor who sold only shot glasses of hard liquor — starting at eight in the morning!

Horse ride outside Villa de Leyva, Colombia

Horse ride outside Villa de Leyva, Colombia

We went on a pretty neat horse ride to visit some archaeological sites outside town. Our horses were quite small compared to the ones we’ve ridden in BC which very tall and thus scary for us novices. Other things we did is went on a couple of hikes, one with a guide and one very short one by ourselves. The landscape around these parts is gorgeous. Language wise, I remember having such a hard time understanding this fellow. The Spanish in Columbia was much more difficult to understand.

Villa de Leyva, definitely one of my favourite spots in Columbia.

Laura.

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