We then headed further north to the very small town of Guadalupe. It is known for ‘Las Gachas’, a rock bottomed river that is laced with numerous deep pools eroded into the stone. It has a lovely church and palm filled town square, is surrounded by stunning countryside but is a little bit downtrodden and more than a little dirty. Its saving grace was the place we stayed, Cabana El Portal De Don Luis. This is pretty much a building in a field, but the field has great views and the building has a wonderful host that makes you feel like you are part of the family straight away.
J and I did what we always do in a bit of a dodgy town with little to entertain us; find somewhere to drink. The first place was the only open place in the square and was full of men in sombreros, drinking cerveza and getting loud. It made the Unity in Balmain (think Weatherspoons but without the style to become a chain) look posh. The loo was a shower cubicle type thing with a small wall in the middle to keep the pee on the side with the plug, and people had big machetes on their belts.
After a visit to the church, we found another ‘interesting’ bar with a floor so sticky we opted to sit outside on the step and watch town life (busses fit for 10 people cramming in 20, trucks selling chickens, ne’er-do-wells on motorbikes etc) before finding a very good burger bar for supper.
The walk to Las Gachas is lovely. It takes about 25 mins though pastures backed by mountains to get to the river, which is more about the novelty of disappearing into a very big hole in a very shallow river than anything else. Top tips. 1. Walk upstream for about 10 mins and you will find a patch of the holes with no one else there. 2. About 5 mins downstream is a small house. Approach said small house and ask ‘is this the house with the cave?’ and a small boy will give you a torch, take COP2,000 from you (les than AU$1) and take you down his garden where he will point you to a hole in a gully and leave you to your own devises. The cave is about 300 meters long and has lots and lots of bats. Only do this if you like bats.
About 30 mins outside Gaudalupe, on our way to our next stop of Barichara, when stopping for water at a small shop I was approached by a women with two teenaged girls who explained they were trying to get to Bucaramanga and there was no room on the bus. As a result of this brief conversation, we now know it is possible to get 5 people and lots of bags in a Kia Picanto. It was great to pay forward the kindness of many Colombians and of Greet & Dorine who had bailed us out when we were stuck in Champagne.