Throughout the year, Remote Year would provide “plus events” for the group to participate in. Remote Year would setup all of the logistics, you simply needed to pay to join the trip. Many of these trips were very unique, local experiences you couldn’t find in a normal tourist shop. They were organized by the city team and were really meant to give Remotes a feeling of what locals did for fun. While in Bogotá, one of these events was to spend a weekend on a lake that was famous for kitesurfing. It sounded like the perfect escape from the city, so I signed up. There were two weekends that month that offered this trip and the one that worked for me only worked for a couple other remotes. The group was only five of us in total so we all piled into a little car to make the 3 hour drive to the lake. In the car was the driver, Juan, whose company, Feelin, curates local experiences to local Colombians. Juan organized the trip because his good friend owned the place we were staying at. Juan is good friends with Cata, who was our city team manager in Bogotá. The rest of the car was myself, Sara (one of the Program Leaders) and Michelle (a remote from Canada). It was a small group which was a nice change of pace from the huge groups we usually travel with. All we wanted to do was have a nice relaxing weekend by the water.
The drive was nice as we drove through the Colombian countryside and then about half-way in took a turn and it was dirt roads the rest of the way. Along the way, were many beautiful views as we weaved through mountains. You could only get to the hostel we were staying at by boat so we hopped on a little boat and headed to our final destination. There is a big hydroelectric plant on the lake so the boats are free for all the local people that live there, helping them get around the lake. It is a very quiet town with mostly farmers owning the land surrounding the lake. It was very secluded and not well known to most Colombians in the city. Our hosts for the weekend were an amazing family. They built the hostel as a place for their friends to come up and learn kitesurfing, a sport the whole family loved. The place probably had space for twenty people but we were the first group to arrive that Saturday morning. The place is run by a Mother and her two sons. They hire many of the local farmers to help cook and clean the rooms and are really trying to give back to the local community. The welcomed us with open arms and I couldn’t be more grateful for their hospitality.
There wasn’t great internet there so we weren’t distracted by work or anything else. We got in, relaxed in the many hammocks and then headed down the lake for a swim and to enjoy the sun. It was fun to just watch the kiteboarders do their thing in the water. There are many kiteboarders in Charleston so I know how difficult it is. It certainly isn’t just something that you could easily pick up in a weekend. The day was a perfect lake day as we laid by the water, drank a few beers, played some volleyball and didn’t have a care in the world. The lunches and dinners made by the staff were so delicious. It was all super, healthy food cooked fresh with local ingredients from the surrounding farms. After hanging out and eating dinner we heard there was a tejo court up the road. Tejo, Colombia’s national sport, is like cornhole except you replace the bags with metal discs and the wooden board with a board of clay and a ring of explosives around it. The object of the game is to make the explosives go off on your throw. Some local farmers up the road built their own court to make a bit more money. Usually it is free to pay as long as you buy beers, so that is what we did. We decided to play us gringos versus the locals. It was so fun as their entire family came out to play and even the little kids had their own mini court to the side. We ended up losing pretty badly (shocking) but had a great time with the locals. It was such a cool experience to play tejo with a local farming family on this lake in the middle of nowhere in Colombia. I was really glad our hosts recommended we check it out as it was a great night activity. We played for a few hours and they only charged us around $8 USD for everything. I gave them the equivalent of $20 USD and they couldn’t have been more appreciative. It is the simple things that always make lasting memories and I know they could use the $12 more than I could. After tejo, we sat by a fire and hung out before bed.
The next day, we took a boat tour of the lake. There are several waterfalls around the lake as it is surrounded by many hills. Some were super high up and others were lower to the ground. We drove around and saw 5-6 waterfalls and jumped in the water at a couple and swam around them. Our driver told us that there is a legend that elves live in these hills and come and steal all the emeralds and precious stones. He told us this long elaborate story, as Juan translated, about how his uncle got kidnapped by these elves and was never seen again. We had to hold back from laughing but the boat driver seemed dead serious and it was interesting to hear an old legend from that area. After the boat tour we were free to do what we wanted so that included napping, some more volleyball, swimming and laying around. Today, many more people came so it was fun to just watch everyone on the water. Young kids, moms, older guys, they were all in the water kite surfing and it was really cool to watch. Tito, one of our hosts, is amazing at the sport and would launch himself high into the air and do tricks. It was like something I’ve never seen before and he made it look super easy. After a few more hours we headed back to the car and drove home. It was a quick Saturday-Sunday trip but it was just the relaxing getaway I needed. This plus getting to experience such a local and off the beaten track trip was so fun for me. I loved all the people we met at Chivor kite and am grateful for their hospitality!