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For a small town, this city packs a lot of punch. Known as the outdoor capital of Colombia and place to visit for extreme sports. The area is best known for white-water rafting, but other popular pastimes include paragliding, caving, rappelling and trekking. In the middle of town, there is a Park and a 300 year old town square where everyone meets in the evenings. Looking for more lively fun, we were picked up at our hostel, loaded in a van and taken to Macondo Guesthouse.. Here they play a game which goes back to pre-Colombian times which involves the dream mix of gunpowder, lead weights , and alcohol. It’s perfectly legal. Called Tejo, a rural tradition, it is a loud and rambunctious game where a 2kg puck like weights (once made of solid gold, nowadays made of lead) are tossed to a clay pit to hit a metal ring known as a bocin, which is surrounded by ready to explode gunpowder-filled triangle pieces of wax paper. After buying drinks we were explained the rules by our guide , before trying this loud game .
After surviving the fun night of Tejo, we hopped a bus and went 22kms to the Cascadas de Juan Curi ( waterfalls). There is a small ecological park where there are two 20 minute trails leading to the base of the 180 meter high waterfall.
Another one of our day trips out of San Gil was to the to the colonial town of Barichara, it boasts cobblestone streets and whitewashed buildings with red tiled roofs that look almost as new as the day they were created some 300 years ago. It is, with out a doubt, one of the most beautiful small colonial towns in Colombia.
Of Colombia’s culinary traditions, perhaps none is as peculiar as this areas delicacy, hormigas culonas- literally, fat bottom ants. The tradition dates back more than 500 years when indigenous Guane people cultivated and devoured ants for their supposed aphrodisiac and healing properties. The giant dark brown coloured ants are fried, or roasted, and eaten whole or ground into powder. Containers of fried ant snacks are sold on just about every corner shop. They taste like, well, crunchy dirt mixed with old coffee grounds. It’s definitely an acquired taste, but one you must attempt to acquire.
With lots of the day still left, we hiked along side El CaminoReal, the ancient stoned –paved road built by the indigenous people and rebuilt continuously over the centuries. It was declared a national monument in 1988. This spectacular hike leads to the sleepy small hamlet of Guane. We chose to walk the road which gave us a great view of the canyon alongside.