It’s taken eight years of living here in Colombia to finally get down to the Llanos Orientales and Villavicencio. Really, this is shameful given Villavicencio’s proximity to Bogotá along a serpentine highway descent from the altiplano leaving the capital via Usme and then reaching la Puerta al Llano roughly two hours later. In truth it’s only 85km from the capital as the crow flies but a world apart in terms of customs, people and climate or well if I am honest, just about everything is different here.
It wasn’t the city that struck me. It seemed to be an imposing thug of development with little or no sense aside from being the despensa de Bogota. I’m sure as with all places there’s more to it (after all I love Guatemala City!). I positioned my back to the mountains and then looked south over the great plains of Colombia. This is big sky country. I could feel and see a similarity to the prairies east of Calgary in Alberta. And yes, Villao, as Villavicencio is often referred to, is a straight up no-nonsense cowboy city. The billboards advertising jeans on the way in were firmly aimed at cowboy fashion.
The reason we visited the Llanos, well, we were invited to a wedding out here on a finca to the east of Villavicencio on the road to Yopal. You couldn’t make it up, a Pole and a Llanera who had met in Germany. The festivities were excellent.
I get it now though, why people come out this way. I have not explored the region much, I know a little bit of Guaviare and the section of Meta where La Macarena and Cano Cristales is located but beyond that this is the region which I least know in Colombia.
But now it’s clear, people don’t go to Villavicencio, they do as we did, they get invited out to a spectacular finca, swim in the pool, drink too much, eat too much, lounge in a hammock and push the worries of the day-to-day grind of Bogotá far behind them. Villavicencio rocks, she looks like Valledupar but is mercifully bereft of Vallenato and swings to the frenetic kidney thumping, stomping rhythms of Joropo.