Tuesday, September 19, 2017

The Valle de Tenza in Colombia

The plaza in Guateque

I have traveled to Colombia over a 37-year period and recall seeing many buses indicating that they were traveling to the Valle de Tenza in the province of Boyacá, about a three-hour ride from Bogotá, toward the northeast. Foreign tourists did not appear to visit the region with any regularity, as most of them go to the colonial-style town of Villa de Leyva, also in Boyacá but in a different direction.

The town of Somondoco as seen from Guateque

In December 2015 I made my first trip to the area, visiting the towns of Guateque and Tenza. One can not help but be impressed by the immense mountains and gorges that mark the route once one turns off the main road to Tunja and heads east. After the considerable twists and turns, I stopped in Guateque, the first major town in the valley on our route. Guateque has a temperate climate, warmer than Bogotá and the towns immediately to the north of the city. While in Guateque, I met with a professor named Luis Carlos Uscátegui who was in the area doing research and supporting an artisans' cooperative that specialized in basket weaving. He suggested that I visit Tenza, and I hailed a taxi to take me there. I didn't have a lot of time to spend in Tenza, but it was well worth it: the town was beautiful and quiet. I had some time to meet a gentleman named Marco Antonio Roa, who was the director of folk dance groups in the town.

One of the quiet streets in Tenza

In April 2017 I returned to the valley. This time I passed Guateque and kept going to a town named Garagoa which was a little farther down the route. There were even more landscapes that awaited, and I was taking every photo I could with my iPhone while the bus bounced over the bumps in the road. My time was limited in Garagoa, so I focused on the church, which did not disappoint with its beautiful interior and many statues that were lovingly preserved. The local people were very friendly, and eager to chat with me about American politics.

Valle de Tenza still has more that awaits my discovery, as there are several other towns in the area with their own views and enchantment.

Interior of the church in Garagoa

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