Wednesday, May 4, 2011

seeing Colombia: Villa de Leyva part II

I know I just posted last night, but if I don't get these images off my hard drive -and all the accompanying stories out of my head!- they'll threaten to languish there for who-knows-how-long. 

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After breakfast our first day and the subsequent romp through the trees, we packed up snacks and several bottles of water before heading out in search of the Ostrich Farm we'd read about online. We got some fairly ambiguous instructions from the gal at the hotel front desk involving a turn here and a turn there and paved versus dirt roads... and pretty much felt like we were lost the whole time (a familiar feeling when driving in Colombia).

While driving down one of said unpaved, dirt and pothole-riden roads that seems like it's going nowhere, we noticed this strange building peaking through the trees.

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We didn't stop, so those pictures are obviously taken through the window, but I was sooooo tempted to turn back and go for a closer look. In searching for a better picture on Flickr (see below) I discovered that this place even has a website. It's all in Spanish, but mentions a menu so it must be some sort of restaurant? Either way, I'm wishing we had stopped after all. 

The entire place is made of terracotta, including the building itself, the interior walls, stairs, shelving, BEDS, kitchen... all of it. Some of it is imbedded with mosaic tiles, glass pieces or stone. Neat, eh?

The boys thought it looked like a house made of melting ice cream. We all decided that, while that would be delicious, it was too warm a place for an ice cream house.

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an image of the same house from msfpico's photostream on flickr

After about a fifteen minute drive, we finally found the signs for the Ostrich Farm. They lead us down a(nother) unpaved, deeply rutted road (from all the rain), where we were met by another typical Colombian sight (at least this record rainfall year)...

A truck stuck in the mud.

With us stuck behind it.

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You can't quite seen the line of the winch they had tied to the tree on the opposite side of the road, but with its help they did eventually free themselves. We're not sure how long they'd been stuck before we got there, but clearly they had this routine down to a science. Not their first time getting stuck, I'm sure.

We got the the Ostrich farm about the same time as a large school group. They seemed like a nice and well-behaved group, but it did complicate things for us a bit and we weren't thrilled to be following behind 30-some excited 7-9ish year olds and all their handlers.

Thankfully it was a beautiful morning and the grounds were quite lovely.

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the welcome sign and a calf tied near the gate of what was likely the farm operator's residence

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the restaurant near the entrance that serves all sorts of ostrich offerings... 
and was unfortunately closed

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hibiscus were everywhere

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a terracotta planter very typical for this region

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these are just the bathrooms, but I loved how colourful they were

After a short video presentation (in Spanish but with English subtitles), we headed outside where one of the staff explained how ostriches make their nests, showed some pictures of babies hatching from their eggs, and warned us not to get too close to the male birds, who are more aggressive and often very territorial.

This was all done in Spanish, so our boys quickly lost interest.

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While Peter was off buying some of the ostrich food, I decided to take advantage of the back drop of colourful buildings and cool cacti, so had the boys sit on some handily placed rocks.

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It wasn't until just after this next picture where Simon fell off his rock that we realized I'd placed them on top of a huge nest of now very angry ants.

Ants that bit.

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Andrew was luckily being held by Liam and so escaped the wrath of the ants. Simon, however, ended up with a few bites on his hand and poor Liam had a dozen or so around his ankles and many ants that had to be shaken out of his shoes and pant legs.

Nice work, mom.

Thankfully the boys' attention was soon distracted by Peter arriving with the little packets of ostrich food. Liam really enjoyed feeding the birds, while Simon would hold out his hand then drop all the pellets as soon as one of them got close. He desperately wanted to feed them, but I'm sure they seemed huge to him.

They weren't all that gentle either.

And they stank.

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See my bump in the background of this next picture? I actually handed the camera off to Peter to get a few shots of Andrew and I with the birds (should have switched to full auto for him though... *love you, hon*). Andrew did really well feeding the ostriches, surprising the farm staff as much as Peter and I. While he loves looking at animals, he's not always a big fan of them getting close to him, let alone almost-painfully pecking his wee hands.

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Those last three pictures above are all of the female birds. The males are not only larger, but also more striking. Their feathers are black with white tips and their beaks are almost a bright pink.

And they are INTENSE.

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I really like this next shot,

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high key ostrich photography, anyone?

After feeding the female birds, the guide began to lead the group through a gate in the fence to another area of the farm. Unfortunately, we didn't make it far enough to figure out what she was showing the group...

Because of all the recent rain, the fields varied from slightly soggy to totally swamped. The gate itself was almost unusable and all the kids had to be lifted over the fence. Once through, Simon, in his eagerness to see more ostriches, slipped in the muddy grass. 

He was covered in mud from his finger tips to his elbows and from his shoes all the way up his back.

Not one to normally be embarrassed by ANYTHING, this rather spectacular wipe out really upset him. He was trying so hard not to cry with so many people around, but he just couldn't stop the big, fat tears once they started flowing. Poor little guy. It was one of those moments where I just felt so bad for him, but couldn't do anything other than try to calm him down while wiping off as much of the mud as I could.

It took eight baby wipes just to clean up his hands. At least enough that he mostly stopped crying. And the whole time I was squatting in the mud wiping his hands, this CRAZY FREAKING OSTRICH kept getting closer and closer and leaning down lower and lower. 


And even though the video we'd watched had warned people to take off any jewelry since ostriches like shiny things, on the advice of my better half, I'd left my rings and earrings on... not thinking I'd be squatting right at pecking height. 

Oh, did I mention I was trapped between the ostrich AND A BARBED WIRE FENCE? 

No where to go.

And how to do "shoo" an ostrich??

We eventually managed to get cleaned up enough to escape the big, crazy, dumb bird and took the boys instead to a little playground. Liam and Simon played while I took Andrew to see the other animals: goats, llamas, rabbits, and water buffalo. We left shortly after the school group finished the tour and mobbed the play equipment.

I stopped along the road between the farm and the parking lot to snap a few pictures. On one side were field of some sort of crop... not sure what kind, but likely not the more notorious crop that Colombia is known for.

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And then these trees that surrounded the parking lot. Tall, scraggly and hanging with moss, they really looked other-wordly. Not sure if they translated well into a photograph though.

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Needing to wait for Simon's mud-covered pants to dry a bit, we unpacked some of the day's snacks once we got to the car. Our boys proceeded to eat what equated to about 5-6 large carrots and an entire head of celery. They also had a few cookies, but actually fought over the vegetables. Although I don't think Peter and I did anything spectacular as parents to instil this love of veggies (other than plant a small garden each summer that the boys helped in), it does make me feel slightly triumphant to see them scarf down a plate of vegetables.

Next stop, the dinosaur park...

1 comment:

  1. The ostrich farm sounds like so much fun...except for Simon's tears. What great memories and pictures (the trees are out of this world, and the pic of the ostrich...amazing!). Can't wait to go read the next adventure. Good job with the veggies...note to self - plant a garden every summer with our little ones.


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