The “adventure capital” of Colombia
Altitude: 1,114m (3,655ft)
Temperature Year-Round: 24 to 32ºC (75-90°F)
San Gil is hot. Well, for me and my pasty white gringa skin anyway. It’s the nearest big town to Mogotes, about an hour drive through beautiful mountain scenery.
We even saw a house made of clay.
Leading into the city, the big business is car repair. Garages are everywhere. Apart from that, it’s restaurants with large slabs of meat smoking on open fires near the road.
The main shopping streets in the town are clutterd with cars, trucks, people, carts, motorcycles, you name it. It’s loud and chaotic.
There’s a large market selling fruit and vegetables of every variety. In a supermarket, I found some Nestea mix and we bought Milo “choco” sandwiches and yogurt to take to the park. I finally found some porridge.
I was expecting a bit of shopping, but mostly it was cheap shoes and clothes, baby gear and knick-knacks. In one shop called La Calle Real, I found a dress I love and bought it. It was COP60000 ($32, £20) The address is Calle 11, No. 10-17 if you’re around. I was excited because I love shopping and it was the first piece of clothing I’ve bought in a month! The back is open and it ties at the neck. It even has pockets.
The heat was getting to me mid-afternoon, so we decided to escape to the beautiful Parque Gallineral. It costs COP6,000 ($3, £2) to get in. The park was the best part of our visit.
It is full of sweeping Ceiba trees which I’ve never seen before, paths for walking, private little sandy beach areas along the Rio Fonce, loads of gorgeous tropical birds and wild parrots, exotic flowers, waterfalls and little areas where you can walk on the rocks.
You can stick your feet in the creek to cool down. If you’re hungry, there’s an outdoor restaurant, but watch out for the evil peacock.
We’re saving this stuff for next time, but you can do some white water rafting here, rappelling in waterfalls, hydrospeeding, kayaking, paragliding and caving. But it’s also a stunning, quiet place to relax and find a patch of shade.
For lunch, we stopped at Restaurante Carne Brava on the main road. Instead of a basket of bread, we were given a cup of fried plantains.
If you’re game, you can order a portion of the region’s specialty Hormigas Culonas (giant fried ants) for COP1,000 ($0.54, £0.33). They’re pretty good actually. They taste like bacon-flavored popcorn with a nice crunch. We ordered smoked steak, some tasty chicken, rice and arepas. There was a cute, prowling cat which got a good chunk of our meal before he went to nap under the table.
Later on, when the sun started to creep behind the mountains that surround this town, we decided on a climb. You can walk up steps and slanted streets for a great view of the town. A bit of an effort after a big meal, but well worth it!
A few Spanish words:
To walk: Caminar