Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Chiquinquirá - Not Just For Dinner Anymore

Chiquinquirá? Sounds like some sort of chicken dish, doesn't it? Well, it's not. It's actually a small cow-ranching town in the mountains a couple of hours north of Bogota. "Chiquin" is the name of the town and "quira" means town in the indigenous Muiscas language of the central-highlands area of Colombia.

I spent the weekend on a working ranch and had a great time hanging out with the local folks and cows. But.......before I could become a serious cow hand, I had to stop by the market in town to pick me up some proper boots. This is the front of the central market of Chiquinquirá where you can find pretty much everything you'd need to live. They've got fresh meat, veggies, stuff for the ranch/farm, and, of course, footwear.

While inside, I tried some lines out on the local women. Here I am trying the "would-you-like-some-papaya?" routine (just kidding, she just happened to walk into the photo but I ended up liking it anyway):

After checking out the produce, it was time to look for some dinner meat. How's this for fresh chiquin...I mean...chicken?

I'm always entertained when buying shoes since I have giant, size 13 feet. As I was unable to buy shoes in Barcelona, I figured that I'd have no luck in the middle-of-nowhere Colombia but, wait, what's this?

Yep, size 12 (close enough) calf-high rubber ranching boots-they're all the rage here. Cost? $13 (U.S.) SCORE!!! Now I was ready for some serious man-on-cow action! With boots in hand, I went out front to my awaiting limo:

The limo driver took me out to the ranch. This is a photo of the house from the road out in front (beautiful, huh?):

The house is fairly small with six rooms in total. Three are used as bedrooms, one is a bathroom, one is a kitchen, and the last is used as a store room for animal feed and supplies. It's fairly rustic in that it was built over a hundred years ago and only has running water in the bathroom and outside. There's a cool old wood burning stove that's used for cooking that I really liked. The next photo is a view taken from behind the house towards one of the grazing fields out front. I'd like to be there when the cows are just outside the bedroom window.

Morning comes early on the ranch. The cows need to be milked twice a day so the people who milk them show up for their first pass at 4am. If they don't wake you up, the donkeys or roosters will soon after. If you know me at all, I'm not really a morning person. I like getting up between 8 and 10am when there's no alarm clock. To be honest though, there's not much to do once the sun goes down and you're pretty tired from chores so it's off to bed by 9pm. Yes, I said chores. Here I am washing the dishes using the old-fashioned method:

By day three, I was ready for the big time: Milking The Cows! You'll have to wait for my next post to see how it turned out but here's a shot of some of my future victims out in the field:

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