Big cities, mean big city problems. After having my cell phone stolen in Bogota we decided to get a little smaller, somewhere with a small-town feel. Hello, Villa De Leyva.

When we arrived at our hostel, we were in cruise control with this backpacking thing. Charo and I meet the people who run the hostels, we learn about them, and we tell them about us. You never know what you’re going to learn. Well, the owner of Hostel Casa Beija Flor not only went on an extended backpacking journey. He did it in style.

Daniel, the owner of Hostel Casa Beija Flor

Daniel not only went on an extended 3-year backpacking trip, but he did it driving a Tuk-Tuk. He and a friend took the journey together and travelled all over South America. While in Brazil he fell in love and finished the last year of his trip with his girlfriend. In the end, he wrote a book about it. He said it only sold 250 copies, but it was a memory. Now, I’m rethinking my retirement plans, and I’m not talking about writing a book.

Hostel Casa Beija Flor

Like any good hostel, you should feel at home when you enter. You can tell Daniel is a father because he wanted to make sure the kids had things to do and were always safe doing it. In fact, we were going on an excursion with him and we were running late, he made sure to comment “take your time, make sure they brush their teeth.”

There were a lot of little subtle things to make the time there really nice. As usual, Charo and I loved to have a shared kitchen we could use with the other guests.

A hand-crank blender. Technology at it’s best!

There were toys the kids could use as well.

Daniela and Marco trying a diabolio
Playing a game of Sapo

Of course, no stay is complete without having the perfect room. Two double beds, one bunk bed, with a private bathroom

Everywhere you look, there is artwork all by local artisans, or Daniel himself.

The hostel life is growing on the kids. Everywhere they go, they seem to meet people who want to hang out with them. Here, we met Diana from New York. She has just started to volunteer here at the hostel and made my kids feel like gold.

Our stay at Casa Beija Flor was wonderful, and it didn’t stop there. You can count on Daniel to organize excursions as well. The first excursion we went on was a hike of 6 waterfalls that took about 2 hours.

Our travelling companion, Zuna
Somebody was pooped after the hike.

The hike was amazing and well worth it. Unfortunately for Charo, the tour wasn’t over there. We ended up going to three small towns, where we saw local artisans and tasted some local cuisine.

I think it suits me!

Taller Tagua

The moments that held the kids’ interest the most came at Taller Tagua in the small town of Tinjacá. The material used here is actually from a nut and is dried anywhere from a year to 40 years. When carved, it takes on 95% the smoothness of ivory, and is very dense, making it very hard to break.

All of these nuts have been dried for a different amount of time. The darker the colour, the older the nut.
The finished product

The world is concerned about waste. Do you see all the waste produced when the nut is carved? Before, this waste was thrown away. Now they are using the byproduct to make paper thick enough that you could use it as a lampshade.

The coolest thing they made was a chessboard. Sorry about the clarity of the picture, each piece is only 12 mm tall and are all handcrafted!

If you are ever in the Tinjacá area, you should check out Taller Tagua.

The Terracotta House

The final stop along our tour was the clay house. The entire house is one solid piece of clay and took over 15 years to construct. It is, therefore, the largest piece of clay pottery in the world! It was built by architect Octavio Mendoza and it is habitable.

A traditional dinner

When we returned home, our host Daniel informed us that another hostel was hosting a dinner. Casa Beija Flor and a group of other hostels, host an event every evening. Guests from all the participating hostels are invited to the events. This night’s event featured a local soup called Ajiaco. I’m not a soup person, but I couldn’t get enough. It was tasty and filling. As part of the cost we could have learned how to make it, this is the only regret of my time at Casa Beija Flor.

Our friend Diana spending some time with us at dinner

For such a short time in Villa de Leyva, we feel that we had a jam-packed time. We recommend going to Casa Bejia Flor, and check out the excursions Daniel has to offer. If you’re interested in staying there, we found them here:

Thanks for reading and Happy adventuring.

Next Stop: Barichara, Colombia

Last stop: Bogota, Colombia