Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Sogamoso and Surroundings in Colombia

The plaza of Sogamoso, in the province of Boyacá
The cool Bogotá savannah extends well north of the capital and continues through in similar form toward Tunja, the capital city of the province of Boyacá. A bus ride to the north and east of Tunja showed me that this same savannah continued to Sogamoso, also in the province of Boyacá, before finally ending there. Sogamoso is a small city with lots of activity in its commercial district and large central plaza, which honors both its indigenous past with a sculpture honoring the sun god of its ancestors (the last cacique or chief of the region before the Spanish conquest was named Sugamuxi), and the Catholic cathedral of St. Martin of Tours behind the sculpture.

Interior of the church in the town of Monguí
It takes a little less than an hour to take a bus to the nearby town of Monguí, winding slowly through the mountains. Monguí is a really picturesque place situated in the hills, and would be noteworthy for its colonial architecture alone. However, the town has carved a niche for itself in another way: as a manufacturer of soccer balls. In the plaza you can find stores that dedicate themselves to this craft. We went in one store to peek at the workers busily making them and look through all the sizes and varieties available, with World Cup posters decorating the walls.

Flower pots in Monguí decorated with the soccer balls the town is famous for making
Another noteworthy side trip from Sogamoso is to the Lago de Tota, the largest natural lake in Colombia. The cool breeze reminds you that you are at a high elevation - 3,015 meters (9,892 feet) above sea level, to be exact. There are plenty of captivating views and towns surrounding the lake, among them Aquitania, which prides itself on rainbow trout caught in the nearby waters, as well as being a major source of onions. As for us, we were not in search of trout or onions, but rather for some delicious ice cream in the plaza, which capped off the day nicely.

On the shore of Lake Tota