Enchanting Barichara

Barichara, Santander Province, Colombia, November 1 to 3rd, 2012

One of the most enchanting towns on earth is Barichara. It is a small, beautifully preserved, colonial town on a mesa in the Santander province in Colombia. If it weren’t in the middle of Colombia, it would be overrun with tourists.

Hilary, Siggy, Tony and I were privileged to spend a couple of days in Barichara. Even in the short time we were there and without speaking Spanish, we encountered four people who had stumbled across Barichara, fallen under its spell and moved to Barichara, changing careers in the process.

We were delighted with our hotel, the Achiotte Boutique Hotel. The owner/builder/manager had worked as a dentist in Spain for many years, returned to Colombia, visited Barichara and bought land and stayed.

The hotel was on the edge of town. The window of our room looked out to the countryside.

We arrived in the evening of the Day of the Dead. In the main square, in front of the cathedral, a traditional dance was being performed. The dancers were wearing animal skins and masks of goat skulls.

It was actually rather spooky, like the start of a horror film. Barichara is often used as a film set.

The town is pristine. There must be rules in place about signage and paint colors; apart from the cars and power lines, it could be anytime in the last 300 years.

Looking down a street in Barichara. Our hotel is on the left.

We enjoyed our stroll around town. It took a full half day. Here are some snaps from our wanderings.

A park.

The cemetery next to the church across from the park.

A tombstone with character and a hat.

This is the view from the wall at the edge of town. Happily for walkers, there is a little bar built into the wall here. We were enjoying a cold drink when I took this picture.

Artists and craftsmen have set up shop in Barichara. We poked our heads into an assortment of attractive tienda/tallers (stores/workshops) on our walk about town. We admired the attractive wooden jewelery and boxes made at VerdeAzul.

The Colombian couple who fell in love with Barichara, moved there, and opened VerdeAzul where they design and create attractive wooden items.

Fique (similar to sisal) is a popular crop in the area. It’s made into bags and rugs and paper. Tony and I stopped at the fique paper shop and learned how the paper is made.

Here is a fique plant. (It is not the finest example of its species — we saw some magnificent ones in the Chicamocha park.)

Jane bashes a lump of well-soaked fique to break down the fibres.

The fibres, suspended in water, are spread across a grate, the size of the final sheet.

The man in the Panama hat tries paper-making too.

Here is the paper, removed from the press and ready for drying.

Beautiful array of products handmade from fique paper. All the colours are from vegetable dyes: beetroot for red, onion skins for yellow, red cabbage for blue.

5 thoughts on “Enchanting Barichara

  1. Even on sabbatical Jane can’t get away from writing tech, like making paper :). Looks like a wonderful place to live, or retire! Thanks for another installment in The Adventures of Tony and Jane.

  2. Oooh sees like a very fun place. Make paper during the day, dance like a goat at night. I think that’s in the next chapter of One Hundred Years of Solitude. Gonna keep reading…

  3. Great post! This village is delightful. Where will you be spending Christmas? We’ll be thinking of you! Have a merry one wherever it may be! Landon

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