Camino Real (Royal Road) – The road between Barichara and Guane

For this Wednesdays’ literature quote we are going to take a different route again. Years ago I wrote an article for a travel web site which described 5 relatively obscure places to visit in Colombia.

My introduction was as follows:
If it’s life you want, then its life you will get. Colombia is one of the world’s five richest countries in biological diversity, coupled with its unspoilt colonial heritage and colourful festivals. As the Colombian travel slogan says ‘the only risk is wanting to stay’.

One of those places in that article is called ‘Camino Real’. Well it’s not so much a place as it is a centuries old 10 kilometer path made out of stone. The experience of walking ‘Camino Real’ was unlike any other. I described it in the article ‘as an almost surreal experience; a pilgrimage into a different age’. I felt as though I had stepped knee-deep into a Robert Frost poem.

Below are some photos of ‘Camino Real‘ from fellow blogger notesfromcamelidcountry trip to ‘Camino Real’ used with his expressed permission. For more photos and description of the towns that connect the walk I recommend you visit his marvelous travel blog:

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Mending Wall

Something there is that doesn’t love a wall,
That sends the frozen-ground-swell under it,
And spills the upper boulders in the sun;
And makes gaps even two can pass abreast.
The work of hunters is another thing:
I have come after them and made repair
Where they have left not one stone on a stone,
But they would have the rabbit out of hiding,
To please the yelping dogs. The gaps I mean,
No one has seen them made or heard them made,
But at spring mending-time we find them there.
I let my neighbor know beyond the hill;
And on a day we meet to walk the line
And set the wall between us once again.
We keep the wall between us as we go.
To each the boulders that have fallen to each.
And some are loaves and some so nearly balls
We have to use a spell to make them balance:
‘Stay where you are until our backs are turned!’
We wear our fingers rough with handling them.
Oh, just another kind of out-door game,
One on a side. It comes to little more:
There where it is we do not need the wall:
He is all pine and I am apple orchard.
My apple trees will never get across
And eat the cones under his pines, I tell him.
He only says, ‘Good fences make good neighbors.’
Spring is the mischief in me, and I wonder
If I could put a notion in his head:
‘Why do they make good neighbors? Isn’t it
Where there are cows? But here there are no cows.
Before I built a wall I’d ask to know
What I was walling in or walling out,
And to whom I was like to give offense.
Something there is that doesn’t love a wall,
That wants it down.’ I could say ‘Elves’ to him,
But it’s not elves exactly, and I’d rather
He said it for himself. I see him there
Bringing a stone grasped firmly by the top
In each hand, like an old-stone savage armed.
He moves in darkness as it seems to me,
Not of woods only and the shade of trees.
He will not go behind his father’s saying,
And he likes having thought of it so well
He says again, ‘Good fences make good neighbors.’

How to get to Camino Real: Frequent buses travel north from Bogota to Bucaramanga or you may decide to stay in San Gil situated just 10 kilometres from Barichara. Alternatively, fly directly to Bucaramanga and take a bus south 1.5hours to Chicamocha or San Gil.

“The more I live, the more I learn. The more I learn, the more I realize, the less I know.”- Michel Legrand

Posted in Reading, Reflections
33 comments on “Camino Real (Royal Road) – The road between Barichara and Guane
  1. badfinger20 says:

    That looks beautiful. I love the look of the towns around it.

    • The architecture, rich history and culture of colonial towns in Colombia is astounding. Thanks for commenting Bad.

      • badfinger20 says:

        I went to another site where people walk that and stop off at the small towns…I would love to see those towns…especially the small ones.

      • Yes, they are a dime a dozen in Colombia. The people who live in these towns are also some of the most cheerful and friendly you’ll come across too!

      • badfinger20 says:

        This word does it an injustice probably but the towns look “quaint”…
        That is great to hear that they are cheerful and friendly.

      • ‘Quaint’ is one good word. Probably another good one is ‘Folkloric’.
        The people are very animated and welcoming compared to city dwellers. Which I imagine is the case in most countries.

      • badfinger20 says:

        Now that is a good word… yes they are…that is why I live in a country area…surrounded by woods.

      • Sounds nice where you are Max. I am fortunate as well, I live in probably the most tranquil part of Bogota where there are plenty of parks and other green zones. Obviously it’s nothing like being surrounded by woods, but still you could do much worse in Bogota!

      • badfinger20 says:

        Bogota looks pretty cool. I love looking at different places and you mentioned you lived there and after I saw the Camino Real with the architecture…you are in a beautiful place.

      • Yes, there are some lovely parts in Bogota. I posted a little while ago photos near where I lived after we had our first full sunny day in months. The neighbourhood I live in (Cedritos) is cleaner and more upmarket than most areas in Melbourne, but I’m paying probably 5 times less in the cost of living. It makes a big difference.

      • badfinger20 says:

        My old boss moved to Brazil. He visited there one time and one day he just upped and left. He would describe it all of the time. He was saying how affordable it was to live there and how beautiful it was when he visited.

        Yes I live 40 minutes from Nashville in a small county and I pay less here. I have to drive a while to get somewhere but the privacy is worth the drive.

      • You can’t beat that rural tranquility Max. The one thing I regret is my kids won’t have experienced ‘the bush’ (we aussies call it bush lol) like my brother and I had growing up.

      • badfinger20 says:

        I wanted to ask you about Australia but I was afriad you were sick of people asking you. I always wanted to go there…the animals are incredible. I’m an animal lover…but the snakes I could do without. We have enough of them here.

      • You’d be surprised how few people ask me about Australia despite most people here only associating Koalas and Kangaroos with Australia. Many people also mistaken me when I say I am from Australia with Austria!

        I don’t blame people wanting to visit Australia for the beaches, wildlife, native flora and fauna and the major attractions in general. We lived around deadly snakes and spiders growing up. You get used to it. My Dad would just get out his shovel and split the snake in two. haha.

        The press like to perpetuate this myth that Australia is dangerous because of great white sharks, snakes and spiders and it’s true we have some of the deadliest animals, but very few people become victims of them.

      • badfinger20 says:

        That surprises me that more people doesn’t ask you about it. I get asked about country music…they ask me who my favorite artist is and I say…The Beatles and I get some second looks because of where I live.

        We have rattlesnakes, copperheads, and cottonmouths but that does it on poisonous snakes.

        Yes Koalas, Kangaroos, and you forgot The Wiggles!

        Like you said I guess it’s a part of life and you get use to it. Everyone I’ve known that has been there really liked it.

        That is funny about Austria!

      • Those breeds of snakes you mention make me shiver! The rattlesnake appears the most ominous at least by way of its sound and appearance!

        I understand the confused look you must get saying the Beatles. I have that same look, but that’s not to hold anything against you haha.

        I don’t really like professing to people here I’m from Australia and when I do talk about it, it’s often brief and factual.

        Australia if you have the expenses is a wonderful country. I’ll be honest I haven’t reminisced about it all too often. Colombia is my adopted country and in many ways I find the life here much more animated and appealing.

      • badfinger20 says:

        The good thing about a rattlesnake is they do warn you…you hear that sound you get the hell out quickly. The cottonmouth are the ones that are aggressive. I’ve been chased by one near a pond…

        Hey I say Bob also lol…. people expect me to answer with George Jones or Dolly Parton…nothing against them but they are not as much me.

        That is all that matters…that you are happy where you are at. Where that is…is home.

      • It sounds like you’ve had your run-in with snakes as well. But to have one chasing you sounds like a nightmare scenario!

        As I’ve said before I can understand completely why the Beatles are so adored. They are the most popular and influential rock band in history.

      • badfinger20 says:

        Yes…and black racers will chase you also once in a while…but they are ok…they won’t hurt you.

        Yea but I know people get sick of hearing about The Beatles… funny thing is it goes in cycles… in the 1980s it was not cool being a Beatles fan… Matt I just grew up in the wrong generation lol. I should have been born twenty years earlier.

      • I always thought it was fashionable to like the Beatles. I see what you mean that it may go in cycles. I know the appreciation of Dylan’s legacy was lukewarm in the 80’s and 90’s up until ‘Time Out of Mind’. Since he won the Nobel, it seems the debate over his voice and dubious contributions has ended. He now seems almost universally praised and admired. It’s definitely cool to like Dylan! I hope you caught the Ed Norton interview on Joe Rogan a few days ago where he goes off on this Dylan rant for 10 minutes. It was marvelous.

      • badfinger20 says:

        Yes Dylan, Beatles and a lot of good music was not in “style” in the 80s… I think the Wiburys helped Dylan’s visibility in the late 80s and the never ending tour started.

        One of my favorite Dylan albums was in the 80s…Infidels. Jokerman, Neighborhood Bully, Sweetheart Like You, Union Sundown… the list goes on.

        I missed that but will check it out. I’m in Atlanta today on a business trip…I’m catching up reading tonight at the hotel.

      • That’s a good observation regarding the Wilbury’s helping Dylan’s visability. Yes, the 80’s was the decade of the hit single, various artist compilation albums (remember ‘Raiders of the Lost Pop Charts’ ?) footloose and synthesizer music. Credible music and complete albums seemed to be left in the dustbin.

        I like Infidels a lot. Some great songs. I could never work out why so many fans didn’t like Neighborhood Bully.

        If you search ‘Norton, Joe Rogan and bob Dylan’ in you tube it will give you the excerpt.

        Have fun on your trip to Atlanta. Lucky buggar! 😊👍

  2. Bruce says:

    I would love to have walked the Camino Real!

    • Well brush up on your Español and take the road less traveled!

      • Bruce says:

        I haven’t got a passport!

      • You didn’t renew your passport? You lived in Boston at some time didn’t you?
        Well don’t let that hold you back Bruce. You can always get one.

      • Bruce says:

        I have lived for a substantial time in Boston, North Carolina, and Quebec – and even visited Tegucigalpa! But these days I wouldn’t get health insurance! let alone not having any money!!

      • Tegucigalpa en Honduras? How was that?
        How wonderful you have lived in so many different places. What brought you to live there?
        I understand how difficult it is regarding financial constraints. I would have loved to return to Australia, but it’s just too costly. Instead I’ll explore this side of the world for the second half of my life.

      • Bruce says:

        I went to Honduras in search of adventure – thought I’d live in the San Pedro Sula area, but 9/11 happened and the promise of a job with an American company faded into oblivion! There is so much to explore in your half of the world. For starters, you can get in a car and drive all over the place – whereas in NZ you can only go up the road which is exactly the same as the place you left.

      • It’s probably a blessing the job fell through since Honduras has been a real mess the last decade at least. Highest homicide rate in the world and God knows what else. But I shouldn’t cast dispersions since Colombia has had probably a worse reputation at least as far as what is perpetuated in the West.
        You are right about the ease of travel this side of the world and the variety of places. Also the affordability. Because of the Andes mountain range you can travel just one hour and experience a totally different climate and way of living. That was one thing that frustrated me about Australia was how far you had to travel to see experience something different.
        There are plenty of downsides to living in a developed nation in South Anerica, but it doesn’t include tourism if you are on your toes lol

      • Pardon a developing nation

  3. selizabryangmailcom says:

    It’s almost impossible to believe that places, open spaces, paths like these still exist. It’s so refreshing……….

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