You probably have heard of Bogotá, Colombia, but have you ever heard of the lovely little town of Anolaima? I hadn’t either, at least not until our dear Colombian friend invited us to stay in his finca (country home).
Anolaima is a place that maybe little known, but once you visit you’re sure not to forget it. With it’s bustling square surrounded by small tienditas, restaurants, bars and more, the town of Anolaima is the epitome of Colombian countryside charm–perfect for a weekend getaway.
So that’s exactly what we did!
Our group-aka the “NOHAs” (international master’s program in humanitarian action), squeezed into “taxi-buses” and rode 70km west of Bogota for the weekend. Two hours later, after sitting in traffic, driving along curvy mountains and over bumpy roads, we finally made it to Anolaima–the fruit capital of Colombia.
A little about Anolaima
As the fruit capital of Colombia, Anolaima hosts the annual “Corpus Christi” festival. Here you’ll find impressive floats and structures of fruit creations designed as religious symbols, trucks, animals, etc., all in celebration of the wealth of fruit in the region.
Here’s a fun video showing off the fruit festival and the town of Anolaima!
Whenever I see a place for the first time, my natural habit is to immediately reach for my camera. As some of us gathered groceries, the others stood outside and observed the town go about it’s daily routine. I resisted to get my camera bag out as we all admired a local family prepare their bar’s patio for the evening. The kids, no older than 8 years old, were helping their mom rinse, sweep, and brush away all the dust and debris. The boys soon caught on that they had onlookers, and began smiling, dancing, and poking their heads around the corners before shying away, giggling.
Before whisking away our groceries into two taxis (lots of food for 11 people!) I broke my patience and had just enough time to snap a photo or two of the town.
With 5 people sat in the back and 2 in the front seat, we had one taxi full and ready to head to our friend’s finca just outside the town’s outskirts.
Arriving at the finca
It is a beautiful evening; the sun is setting, palm trees sprinkle the landscape, flowers and plants of all colors line the steps down to the country home, and everyone has a little skip in their step. We are all ready to spend the weekend away from the hustle and bustle of city life back in Bogotá. With only the sounds and smells of nature, we settled in and started the fire.
An adventure, for me, is not simply traveling to unfamiliar places or getting an adrenaline rush from doing a fun activity. It can be anything from a new culinary discovery or listening to someone’s story. And sometimes it can be many things all at once! That is precisely why this was a weekend adventure in Anolaima.
Sharing stories, experiences and jokes with friends from all parts of the world, while grilling, eating yuca (a “woody shrub” that has a delicious buttery-potato-like flavor), and secretly competing at who can spot the most shooting stars (I think Cat and I won, by the way) is what I would call an adventure.
I woke up the next morning hot which made me super happy, if you can believe it. Right now in Bogotá, the weather is like a crisp autumn morning, with warm days when the sun is shining. Here in Anolaima the climate is tropical and it’s exactly what I was hoping for. No need for fluffy socks or pull-overs. I got up and could immediately put on my long-awaited summer dress.
Handmaking typical dishes
With the sun already peeking over the rolling green hills around us, it was time for breakfast. Our Colombian chef taught us how to make arepa and patacone by hand. Patacones are fried (twice) plantains, and is a typical type of food from Colombia. De-li-cious!
Arepa is actually quite easy to make, once you know the technique. Just add corn flour, salt and water in a bowl and mix with your hands. Then, form baseball-sized balls in your hand and squish it flat between plastic wrap with the help of a cutting board. They are so tasty and can be eaten for breakfast, lunch, dinner, or as a snack!
Exploring the countryside
That morning we explored the dirt roads, past colorful fincas, barking dogs, and banana trees. Colombia is popular for it’s diverse scenery and nature; from pristine beaches to snowy mountains and arid deserts, to everything exotic in between. And to think, our short hike was only a glimpse into Colombia’s beauty!
For anyone who has ever considered traveling to Colombia, I would definitely say just GO! But if you do, make sure to get out of the big cities and explore the countryside to places like Anolaima. You won’t regret it.
Eat like a local
After our two lovely nights in the finca, we headed back to Anolaima to grab lunch at a local outdoor tent area (piqueteaderos) where you can find a popular and tasty dish known as picada.
Picada is basically a plate full of chopped up treats such as chorizo sausage (longaniza), pork loin (lomo de cerdo), blood sausage (morcilla), plaintains, yuca, potatos (papas criolles), arepa, and more. With some fresh lime and a glass of refajo (beer with Colombian-style soda), we had all we needed for a perfect Colombian meal!
The place was bustling full of locals taking their Sunday lunch. The ladies cooking over the big pots made me, once again, want to take out my camera.
One of my goals while in Colombia is to get over my shyness in asking to take people’s photo. So my friend helped me get started and then I asked, “Puedo tomar una foto, por favor?” To which her answer was “Si, si,” with a smile.
Again on another kind of adventure–sharing a moment with a stranger.
Before packing into the taxi-bus to head back home, we walked to the edge of the town where we were greeted with breathtaking views of lush green rolling hills in the distance.
On our way back to Bogotá, we took a short break in a town called Zipacón. Only in this little town can you find fresh-out-of-the-oven pan de maíz stuffed with cottage cheese-like deliciousness in the center. It’s the best combination of salty and cheesy, and at just 700 pesos (around .25 cents at the current exchange rate!) If you are ever traveling in the area, you MUST stop to try this local treat!
After another bumpy and breezy two hours drive, we were back home to a cloudy and chilly Bogotá. Though it always feels great to get back from a weekend adventure, I sure will miss the sunny little slice of paradise that is Anolaima.
Muchas gracias for following along on my adventures!