Now itâ€™s on to the third leg of my three week Colombia visit. First leg was the capital, Bogata where I had arranged lots of meetings to get a feel for the politics and trade potential. Second leg was the city of Medellin, learning about how city planning and people power can transform the most murderous city in the world into a modern, well connected powerhouse.
The third leg of my Colombia familiarisation visit is to rural Colombia.
This leg began in Boyaca, where I visited the magnificent monuments marking two of the key battles in Colombiaâ€™s struggle to cast off the imperial yoke of Spain at Vargas Swamp near Paipa and at the battle of Boyaca itself which prevented the Spanish forces reaching Santafe Bogata (at it was then known). Was very relaxed until reaching Tunja (pronounced toon-hah), when our brilliant driver Tatiana jumped out at her house and handed me the keys for the onward drive to Tuta. As darkness fell. Not sure Iâ€™ll ever completely forgive her. Panicked when a police car appeared in my mirror with blue lights flashing. What had I done wrong? Actually nothing. Hadnâ€™t realised they always have their blue lights flashing.
A lovely evening with my daughter-in-law, Zulmaâ€™s extended family and their pet animals. Commitment to family is very strong in rural Colombia. The landscape of Boyaca is not dissimilar to Wales, except more mountainous and extensive with the Andes providing backdrop in the distance.
And then today we drove from Bogota to a small town called Anapoima. What a drive. Seemed like it was over top of the Andes. The road was being widened (well actually rebuilt). Maybe 30 miles of it. Itâ€™s the sort of dramatic infrastructure development Colombians specialise in. In Medellin they are building a tunnel through a mountain to create better access to the airport. In Bogata, they are going to build an underground system – from scratch. They would sort out the Third Runway at Heathrow in short order. Today I travelled along a motorway being built over the Andes, which makes M5 improvements seem a mini job. Anapoima is nearer to the Pacific coast than where Iâ€™ve been so far. Hotter and more muggy.
Iâ€™ve learned so much about Colombia while Iâ€™m here. So much more to learn. Itâ€™s a country of great contrasts and massive physical differences. And Iâ€™ve not even mentioned the Amazon. The whole country is utterly breathtaking. And for someone who loves flowers, itâ€™s a dreamworld.