Villa de Leyva, Colombia
How I spend my Christmas in a small Colombian town. Leaving the loneliness of my hostel to end up drinking beer with friendly Colombian construction workers.
What?! You are not coming home for Christmas?!
It was a shock for my family when I told them I won't come home for the holy night this year. Never before I had spent it away from home. Well, I always wanted to find out how other countries celebrate Christmas. In Germany, Christmas is quite a big deal where long-unseen family members come together and drink "Glühwein" (hot wine) or eat "Stollen" (a very delicious cake) to forget the cold winter outside.
Instead of experiencing all these traditions, I found myself in a small Colombian town called Villa de Leyva, more than 10,000 km away from home but in much more pleasant climate. The small town is located in the north of Bogotá (a 4 hour drive by car). It is one of the few towns in Colombia to have preserved much of its original colonial style and architecture. Its streets are still paved with cobblestones and many buildings date from the sixteenth century.
Since I was the only(!) guest in my hostel I made a long walk through the city and was surprised how little the city was decorated with Christmas ornaments. I even could found a piece of home and found - strangely enough - some "Räuchermannchen" (small smoking men made out of wood) which are made in the state where I am from.
I continued to walk up some view point where I had a wonderful view on the city, which is lying in a small valley surrounded by a mountain chain.
The idea of going back to an empty hostel wasn't really attractive. So on the way home I stopped in a small shop to have a cold drink and encountered a local group of Colombian men which were having some beers. They started talking to me and were very curious where I come from and what I do here. Some of them didn't even know what "Germany" is. All of them were construction workers and this was how they spent their saturdays before going home to wife and kids. They would have to save a lot of monthly salaries to just pay the flight to my country.
We could mug you here but we are good people
They didn't do that. No, they even invited me for some beers. In the end I couldn't count how many bottles I drank with them. More than often the people who have the least, give the most. In general Colombians where maybe the most welcoming and especially curious people from all the countries I have visited.
Back in the hostel, I watched another episode of the series "Narcos". I was about to go to bed when someone from another hostel contacted me and asked if I would like to go out with them. So in the end I went out with another German guy and 2 Colombian girls to dance a little Latino style. That day turned out pretty well, although it wasn't exactly a "Silent Night, Holy Night" for me. Not a traditional Christmas, but probably the most memorable I ever had :D