After stuffing myself with lechona and tamal tolidense, swimming in the fresh crisp water of one of the local fincas, enjoying the controlled chaos of the market in Lerida and being overwhelmed by the tragedy of Armero – it was time to head back home to Bogotá.
Since it was Sunday, the roads were almost deserted, so we made it home in a fraction of the time it took to travel in the other direction. So much so, that we had plenty of time to stop and look around at more sites on the way home.
I got some great pictures of the drive – heading up into the cool mountains.
One of the more interesting places we passed once we returned to Cundinamarca was Guaduas. Guaduas is a small city of about 30,000 that was the birthplace and home of one of Colombia’s most famous women (no, not Shakira but “La Pola”.)
The city was founded in 1572 and was a well-used and frequent stop for travelers from Bogotá to more outlying areas like Tolima. Now one of its main claims to fame is Policarpa Salavarrieta or “La Pola” as she is known. Her likeness and name currently adorn a local bakery in Guaduas.
Ms. Salavarrieta (1795 – 1817) is considered one of Colombia’s heroes (or heroine) for her role in the Colombian revolution. She is the only female to be honored on Colombian currency (in multiple different designations over the years.) She currently decorates the 10,000 peso bill, but was also on coinage in the past.
After being orphaned by a smallpox outbreak, she moved to Bogotá where she was able to sneak in and out of Bogotá (which had tight security under the Royalist regime).
She was a seamstress who used her sewing talents to gain access to the homes of staunch Royalists and eavesdrop on their conversations. She also stole documents and spied on military officers and recruited others to the revolutionary cause.
Unfortunately, after the capture of one of her fellow revolutionaries, she was arrested, tried and executed along with her lover and several others on November 14, 1817. She was reportedly defiant even as she was led to the firing squad, and refused to keep her back to her executioners – turning around to face them as they shot her to death.
To commemorate her actions to assist the revolutionary efforts, in the late 1960’s, the Colombian government designated her birthday as “Day of the Colombian Woman.”
After learning more about La Pola from my guide, we continued to Faca (Facativa), a city just outside Bogotá to visit one of the fincas that used to be in the family. Faca is best known for its native roots, and the many indigenous carvings, paintings and sculptures that were found during archeological excavations. Faca is primarily a farm town – and is surrounded by several large fincas with livestock and different agricultural products including flower cultivation.
From there – we cruised on into Bogotá; where as much as I enjoyed my journeys, it felt great to be home.