Things weren’t going great for us when we first got to Manizales. We had a growing list of niggling issues on the van so we asked around and visited a few mechanics. This in itself was quite a process, because each time we asked someone for a VW specialist they would tell us to follow them on their scooter and we would have to chase them all over town.
We did eventually find a VW mechanic, and he was useless. He recommended that we drive back to Bogota where more parts were available. We weren’t excited by the prospect of a long drive back to a city we’d just left, but we decided it was probably for the best. So that was our plan.
Our luck soon changed when we stopped in the little town of Chinchina to stock up on groceries. Bec went into the shops and I was underneath the van checking something out, when I heard a voice calling out to me. I went over to speak with the ladies who had stopped their car in the middle of the street to chat to me. Just so happens that they had taken it upon themselves to be the ambassadors of all that is good and right in Colombia. Not only did they invite us home to meet the family, to park the van and stay at their house for the night, give us a tour of the town and feed us dinner and breakfast, they also made a few calls to track down their friend who also owns a vintage VW and recommended a good mechanic back in Manizales. On top of that, they put in a good word with the mechanic and made sure that he knew we had people watching out for us. Oh yeah, and they tracked down a sweet hotel that had a cheap space for camping. Amazing.
To Liliana, Pilar and the rest of the family… we can’t thank you enough.
Next we met Alvaro. A wonderfully generous guy who has one of the most pristine single cab split-window VW’s I’ve ever seen. Also, fittingly for this region, he is a coffee exporter and was more than happy to show us around his warehouse.
After we had offloaded all of our gear at our hotel and taken the car to the mechanic we got in touch with Alvaro again. He had the day off and ad made some plans with a few other VW fans to go for a cruise and sample some of the best typical foods of the region. Beat it
Colombian pay phone
Agua panela, arepa y queso. So simple, but so good.
And so began our staycation in Manizales. Although we slept in our tent, we actually had the place mostly to ourselves. Every night we slept through heavy rain and intense thunderstorms, but during the days it cleared up. Luckily our tent was under another shelter.
The view from our porch was beautiful. There’s something really relaxing about the mist rolling through green valleys.
The property is set up high on a hill surrounded by lush gardens and tropical forest teeming with edible goodies and birdlife.
Steps… so many steps
Night blooming jasmine. These flowers open at night and fill the air with a strong perfume.
The garage and function room had a kitchen and bathrooms, so this is where we stored all of our gear and spent most of our time.
And, we had pets for the week too.
We loved this pooch. But she’s also a bit cheeky, so we’ve learnt a lot of dog commands in Spanish this week. No! (That’s Spanish for no!)
In between hill sprints, workout routines and regular visits to the mechanic, we’ve had plenty of time for movies and cooking. We’ve really enjoyed getting back into exercising again and cooking some good wholesome meals, all with a bit of Colombian flair. Maracuya (giant Colombian passionfruit). And a cuppa tea.
Fried plantain soup
Yummy pesto. Don’t know why we didn’t bring a food processor with us… we have one now.
Pesto scrambled eggs, corn arepa, grilled plantains with cheese. And really good Colombian coffee.
That about wraps it up. It’s been a nice little vacation from our normal routine, but we are really keen to get back to van life. Our next post should include some photos of Oscar looking sharp.