We returned to Bogota from Cartagena and spent one night in a hotel in Usaquen.
We hired a taxi to take us to Farm Nigayala, about 30km East into the Mountains up to 2,700m altitude that cost 100,000 pesos. (approx £20)
We had the phone number of Wendy who runs the farm, so our taxi driver called her at La Calera town. We arrived by meeting Camilio at the Virgen do Jersulsalem bus stop after about an hour and half car journey on dirt tracks and rugged roads.
The car couldn’t go any further, so we walked the rest to the farm through the forest. We followed Camilio down the path and through a forest with bridges, stepping stones, and old car tyres filled with mud that led us to the farm.
It was beautiful! Cold, fresh air and lots of trees, cows, sheep and horses.
The main house is where all the cooking, eating and where the fire is at night to keep us warm. Its run solely on solar power and nothing goes to waste. The water is collected by rain water into a drum, which is then sent through pipes to enable a tap in the kitchen. The toilets are all cess pit. We had a cabin that had 2 floors, like a tree house on the garden a short walk away from the main house. It had its own toilet and the shower was a hosepipe from the celing. We haven’t showered yet and we are into day 3!
Wendy works the farm and is amazing. The farm grows all its own food except the fruit. They have carrots, cucumber, courgette, potato, broccoli, green beans, lettuce, more root vegetables that we didn’t know the name of, lots of herbs, eggs from the chickens, fish straight from their own lake.
After lunch of rice and chicken (we were told that it’s rare to have meat) we went out exploring with Wendy. We fed the (many chickens) and then visited the corn field where we will work tomorrow. Jack helped pull up a root vegetable that he helped prepare for dinner. They also have a goat and horses.
Camilio said lets go fishing. He took 2 lines and a bucket of worms to this small freshwater lake. Jack and Camilio put the worms on the line and within minutes, Camilio had caught a fish! I think it even caught him by surprise!
The excitement was too much and then Jack caught his first fish! On a single line with a single worm! He was ecstatic! After putting more worms on the line, they caught another one each! We went back with 4 fish! They washed them in a bucket with water from a well on the way home and Camilio showed Jack how to gut the fish and prepare for dinner.
We had fish and rice before lighting the fire. We drank a hot water and cane sugar drink, called Aguapanela Wendy cut off a piece of cane sugar from a block and melted it in boiling water. It tasted sweet, like honey.
Bed time was a cold, rushed routine of quickly brushing teeth, jumping in PJ’s as quick as possible and all 3 of us in the same bed under 3 duvets!
The Cockerels started about 5am, although we slept on and off until 7am. We were warm during the night, but the minute I out my hand out, it was cold as ice.
After breakfast of papaya, banana, eggs and arepa, we went out to the corn fields. We had the whole field to clear. Jack was in his element! Wendy showed us how to pull the corn of the stalks and unwrap them. We had to keep all of them, even the bad looking ones as the chickens will eat them. It seemed like for every 5 bad ones, we had 1 good one. They came in all shapes and colours. Some were reddish black, some were white and others looked rotten. Some of them looked like perfect, similar to what you would buy in a supermaket. They came in it’s own sleeping bag and took a while to unwrap them. After about an hour and half, we had cleared it all and we think we took over 150 corn stalks. We carried the bag to the house and started shelling them. The 3 of us spent most of the morning picking of the individually corn – separating the good from the bad. Jack was quick, but Wendy was a speed demon!
These will get used to make Arepa or maize flour.
After lunch, we went out to pull out some carrots and lettuce for dinner. Jack planted some carrots in replace of what we pulled up.
We also chopped some wood for the fire with the axe and Wendy came over and showed us how to do it to make kindling.
Another family arrived and Jack played with the boys, Martin and Ben. They played uno and explored the farm.
We are communicating with little Spanish and their little English. It’s amazing here. Jack is in his absolute element! They have 5 dogs, all very friendly and 2 of them are Ridgeback’s (bred to chase Lions and Jaguar we were told) They look after us and are already very protective.
Already, Jack has planted carrots, picked corn (we cleared the whole field in a few hours), de-shelled corn kernels, chopped wood, lit a fire, caught 2 fish with a single line, fed chickens, goat and fish.
Today, is Sunday, so no work on the farm. Wendy’s cousin is visiting with their son, Christian who is 5. So, today, we shall meet the family and play games with the kids. We played with the dogs and football and then there was talk of getting some beers. Alejandro said it was only a 10 minute walk, so we presumed it was a 10 minute stroll to…well… somewhere! In fact, he insisted that we were our ‘sombreros’ and we all left with the crate full of empty beers. We crawled under barbed wire, climbed over fences, jumped ditches full of mud, climbed steep banks of long grass and then faced 8 barking guard dogs!! Jack shouldn’t be walking all that way, anyway with Perthes, so I put him on my back for some of it, but then with the dogs!! It was like something out of a movie.. I looked around and we were miles for anywhere, no other houses in sight, so I can’t believe this is where beer is sold.
We got to the front gate and this ancient looking lady appeared with a mouthful of gold teeth, in an apron and scarf looking like something out of the 19th Century. Alejandro asked for Cereveza… holding my breath, she slowly shook her head… all finished she said, in my limited Spanish, I understood that. Oh well.. we all looked at each other and laughed… we began the return journey back. It wasn’t 10 minutes, and it was a long way to carry back a crateful of empty bottles!
The rest of the week, we worked hard and weeded, planted, pulled, chopped wood, cut and trimmed the hedge, moved the boundaries for the grading area for the cows, donkey and horse, and helped prepare and cook the food. Camilio even made us popcorn from the corn we had de-shelled.
We lit the fire in the house everynight but needed to dry out the wood the day time, as come 4.30pm it got cold and damp quickly. It got up to about 25 degrees in the daytime and the sun was hot and harsh, but at night, it was freezing.
We left yesterday, to walk out to the bus stop with Wendy passing the fishing lake, the pastures and up the hill to get a whopping view of the whole area. We really were in the middle of no-where. We all loved our time here and Wendy in particular was awesome. She works so hard and was patient with us and sooo good with Jack. We instantly struck up a friendship and will miss her a lot.
We now head straight to the airport to fly to Manizales to the Coffee Plantations for 3 days.