This morning we hike on the famous 18th-century cobblestone Royal Road, starting near our hotel in Barichara, and ending at the small village of Guane. This trail is originally called Camino Suamuxi” – in Chibcha language of the indigenous Muisca people that lived in this region during pre-Hispanic times. Our
3-hour hike on this excellent old road is a birdwatcher’s delight. We start with bosque Seco (dry forest) and hopefully see parakeets, tanagers, Smooth-billed Anis, sparrows, finches, vermilion flycatchers, red-capped cardinals, and motmots. Overall we descend about 1,000 feet to Guane, a lovely and quaint rural town.
After our hike, we drive to “Finka Color de Hormiga” for lunch. This family restaurant is located in the Barichara countryside, where the owner raises the regional Santander delicacy of “hormigas culonas”, or fat-bottom ants. We can try local dishes with sauces made of this expensive delicacy (Atta species ants go for $40 a pound!), or try some as a salty snack.
After lunch, we have the privilege of meeting Santiago Rivero, a local civil engineer from San Gil that works to rescue, preserve, and promote traditional architectural techniques no longer practiced or in danger of disappearing. With his colleagues at the newly founded Terrarium Creative Organization, Santiago designs and promotes the architectural cultural patrimony of the region, designing ecologically efficient homes for the well-to-do, using local materials and techniques. We will literally have a hands-on workshop, trying our best to recreate the Tapia pisada, bahareque, and mud adobe brick walls. (B, L, D)