An Insider’s View Of Zapatoca

EQ spread himself across my lap in the back of Armando’s little Renault 4. Considering the size of this bull terrier’s canines I would usually feel nervous at such close proximity, but I had nothing to worry about. This sloppy pooch was more interested in sticking his head out of the window and getting a back rub.
Our little car beeped its high-pitched horn at passers by. Waves of hands or taps to hats wished us a good morning in return as we made our errands around town.

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Armando’s trusty old Renault. We started calling it the Renault 4×4 because this car can drive over any terrain

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EQ is often found in Armando’s arms for his daily cuddles.

Pace of Life

We slipped very easily into a routine with Armando, Sonia and EQ. In the morning we would have breakfast together (usually hot chocolate and pan) followed by a walk or to visit a local interest with Armando and EQ. Sonia is a prolific artist in Zapatoca, so much so she is literally painting the town! For lunch we would meet up with Sonia and go to their local restaurant Los Remansos, or back to the house where we would rustle something up in the kitchen.

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Sonia was ready to whip up some Changua, a traditional Bogotano soup…

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… typical bogotano breakfast, also considered a hangover cure, levantamuertos (death’s awaker) …

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Back to Hotel Los Remansos for another delicious almuerzo; we must have eaten there four times in one week. For $6000 pesos ($3 USD), we can see why it’s so popular.

Social Butterflies

The two days we had planned to stay Zapatoca soon turned into ten. With so many things to do and people to visit it would have been a shame to have left sooner. A friendship was forming between the four of us, not to mention our Spanish was rapidly improving. We talked openly about cultural differences, world politics, religion, films, food, comedy and music… especially music! The Colombians talk about music more than the British talk about weather!

Each night we made a visit to a different friend’s house for tinto, aromatica, tortas, etc. Armando and Sonia hosted their own night and asked a local band over for a jam session, a perfect opportunity for us to learn about Colombian music and also share some recommendations of our own… and, of course, practice our Spanish some more!

It’s interesting learning a language whilst travelling across a vast continent, with a variety of distinct local accents, vernaculars and vocabulary. When we pick up a new word or saying, sometimes it’s hard to tell if it’s a local, or just new to us. During our time in Zapatoca, we began hearing some new words with distinctly Santandereano accent. In particular, chevere (cool), vacano (also means cool) and chistoso (humorous). In Zapatoca, everything is chevere!

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Whilst visiting Patricia, we were treated to a cup of English Breakfast for the first time in 8 months.

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Herman, Armando, Jennifer, Sonia gave thumbs up to Jenny’s new songs.

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We were invited over to Jaime’s ‘Cafe de Van Gogh’ for more delicious food, cafe and chats about Colombian music, a topic of much passion in these parts!

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At Lucho’s house we had to pick our own coffee beans…

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… It takes longer than we expected to fill a 5 gallon bucket.

We jumped back into the Renault 4×4 and whizzed our way through the town and onwards to the local hospital. We tooted the horn at passers by, this time we were waving at our new friends through the windows, they returned our smiles and familiarity.
Patricia’s husband had an accident with a hammer, resulting in his finger becoming badly infected. When we arrived, his hospital room was full of visitors! It had become the social hub to catch up with everyone on this particular Sunday afternoon. Armando had asked me to bring along my little guitar so I played a get well song to Pipo. In 2 days we visited him 3 times to keep him company! 😉

Leaving Zapatoca

It was hard saying goodbye to Armando, Sonia, EQ and our new home of Zapatoca. Normally, when we stopover for more than a few days in one place, we are itching to get back on the road. This place was different. From the moment we arrived, we quickly transitioned from outsiders to insiders, making lots of social visits around town getting to know the local people. Out of all our long-term stays so far, this felt most like home.

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On our last night, Lars made savoury and sweet Swedish pancakes and gave the old Henning recipe to Sonia, much to her delight.

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Sonia gifted us a lovely card complete with an original illustration of Zapatoca.

We can only hope to get this card home in one piece to frame it!


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