The day after meeting Lady and Jimena at the lake we left our biggest bags at Lady’s town house and set off with her and Jimena in a camionetta to the countryside. After trekking across a couple of fields we arrived at the cutest wooden cabin miles from anywhere. Think ‘Little House on the Prairie’ and you are some way to understanding what it was like. The entire cabin had actually been built by our red poncho wearing boatman from the previous day. After opening up the house and letting the sunbeams dance in the four of us went out for a walk. We hiked down the hills through lush green fields with cows grazing on the steep slopes ending up at the foot of an overhanging cliff. A torrent of water was spurting out from the top and spraying far out from the cliff before crashing and tumbling into the pool below.
The sheer scale of the cliff, the thundering roar of the water and the surrounding mountains and volcano miles from any civilization apart from the odd farmer only highlighted our insignificance. Nobody said much for quite a while. This place was saturated with with a special feeling, maybe spiritual, but without anybody orchestrating it we just sat quietly on rocks or paddled slowly and thoughtfully in the river, we lay in the sun with eyes half closed listening to the sweet song of a pair of eagles which were soaring silhouetted overhead or we wandered around barefoot in the soft spongy grass.
As we walked further on we disturbed clouds of yellow butterflies which were massing around the fresher cow pats and which rose up around our knees. Lady wanted to take us to a huge ceremonial rock which had very old markings on it but we were thwarted by some angry looking bullocks in one of the fields. These menacing creatures stamped and snorted as we attempted to gain entry to their field so we had to admit defeat and return to the cabin.
Lady made us the tastiest of soups and then we all chilled out around a campfire. With smoke stinging our eyes we ate popcorn and drank wine and chatted to the soothing background sound of Lady’s medieval music. Every so often the clouds rolled across the sky – the light from the full moon made them look like pillows edged with shiny silver silk ribbon. We could see the red planet Mars close to the moon and as the time came for the eclipse to begin we prepared ourselves. We collected some lovely fleecy blankets that Lady had in her cabin and rolled ourselves up in them on the slope behind the little wooden cabin. Just like earlier at the waterfall we spread ourselves out, happy in our own thoughts, occasionally dozing off or murmuring the others awake with a sleepy exclamation as the shadow of the sun crept across the moon. We counted ourselves so lucky because just as the shadow began to nibble away at the edge of the moon the clouds retreated. It took a few hours for the eclipse to become complete but because of the proximity of Mars, when the moon was fully covered by the sun’s shadow it glowed an amazing red colour. We lay there totally transfixed in the silence at three in the morning, staring up at the craters and shadows on the moon’s surface. Up and away to our left, the outline of the active volcano reared up into the sky. There was no light pollution, just the occasional squeak of an animal or the chirping of the crickets. After about ten minutes of the spectacular show nature drew her curtains and rolled the clouds back over the moon. Three of us took ourselves inside the cabin not realising that one of us was still rolled up on the grass inside her blanket. Jimena woke a little later, outside in the dark with raindrops thundering down on her face.
Had we followed our initial plan, me and M would have caught the bus out of Pasto earlier that morning. Instead we accepted an offer from two total strangers to join them for the night far from anywhere in the Colombian countryside. When I began my adventures last summer I wrote a blog entry about strangers and trusting people. Nearly twelve months on, I hardly had to think twice about accepting Lady’s kind offer. I am learning to trust my instincts. Thank you so much Lady and Jimena. What an amazing, very special, day and night.