Not far from Villa de Leyva, there is a city named Gachantivá. Gachantivá is located in the Ricaurte Province in the Department of Boyacá in Colombia. Back in the day, Gachantivá was inhabited by the Muiscas, an indigenous group. Because of this, there are a lot of traditions, foods, and activities in this area that resemble the way of the Muiscas.
During the last few years that I have visited Villa de Leyva, I kept hearing about unique activities in Gachantivá therefore, during our last trip, we ventured out of Villa de Leyva and joined different activities known as “talleres vivenciales”.
What are Talleres Vivenciales?
A Taller Vivencial is an Experiential Workshop. Think of it as a time you spend learning and sharing an unforgettable experience with locals, learning from them and their experiences. Some workshops include: Milking a Cow, Shearing a Sheep, learning how to cook a traditional dish, Bird Watching, building sustainable communities, saving the woods, etc.
We love these kinds of workshops and activities as they allow us to truly immerse ourselves in the local culture and learn from experts that love sharing what they are passionate about.
While researching Talleres Vivenciales, I found a beautiful place called Posada Ecoturística Villa Rouse.
We have a couple of videos about this experience. Please find them below.
What is a Posada?
A posada in Latin America is an Inn for lodging. Posadas are very common in small towns. They offer rooms, typically breakfast, and sometimes activities.
Posada Ecoturística Villa Rouse
The Posada Ecoturística Villa Rouse Is located on the outskirts of Gachantivá. From the Plaza Mayor of Villa de Leyva to the Posada Ecoturística Villa Rouse expect a scenic drive of about 1 hour. On the way there, we made a pit stop downtown Gachantivá to grab a bite. We stopped at a little store selling coffee and empanadas and then went up the mountain to spend 2 days with Mrs. Rocío and her family.
I chatted with Mrs. Rocío, the owner of the Posada Ecoturística Villa Rouse, before leaving the U.S. She is a lovely woman who, along with her family, operates this Inn and provides Experiential Workshops. Our plan was to spend 2 nights at Villa Rouse to be able to join a few of her workshops. From the moment I met Mrs. Rocío via text message, I fell in love with her caring attitude, expertise, and desire to plan everything to provide an unforgettable experience for my family and me. When I met her in person, it was like meeting an old friend. I felt like I already knew her.
During our stay at the Posada Ecoturística Villa Rouse, not only did we enjoy the incredible views from the Inn and the fantastic time we spent with Mrs. Rocío and her family. We also enjoyed an excellent traditional breakfast and several experiences we will never forget.
Upon arrival, Mrs. Rocío invited us to drink a delicious fresh pineapple juice while we settled. Fresh fruit juices are something that I love when I visit Latin American countries. The variety of fruits is truly unbelievable. After we left our belongings in our room, we joined her in a workshop called Amasijos Ancestrales.
What are Amasijos Ancestrales?
Amasijo translates roughly into a portion of kneaded dough. Ancestral translates into ancestral. With this in mind, Amasijos Ancestrales are ancestral doughs that become delicious treats.
During this workshop, we learned how to make Traditional Corn cookies and Almojábanas.
What is an Almojábana?
An almojábana is a type of bread that is made with cuajada cheese and corn flour. Almojábanas are very popular in Colombia, especially in Cundinamarca and Boyacá. Almojabánas are eaten at breakfast time or as a snack any time of the day.
Since I live in the U.S., I miss a lot of the traditional food from Colombia. So I was super excited to learn and bring some of those recipes home with me. The almojábanas were something I was very much looking forward to in hopes of being able to recreate them once we were back home in the U.S.
When the workshop starts, Mrs. Rocío makes it such a fun experience. The first thing we did was wash our hands like they do in rural areas. The water was warmed by the sun. She explains that in the morning, moms in the area will set a bucket with water to get warmed by the sun. Then, at about 11:00 am, the water is warm, and they can bathe their babies.
As we learned how to make these traditional and yummy cornmeal cookies, Mrs. Rocío shared stories passed down from generation to generation. Not only will you get to know her story, but you will also learn about the area and its folklore. This hands-on workshop is entirely in Spanish, but Mrs. Rocío is patient and kind and does her best to include everyone. Even if you do not speak Spanish, this workshop is easy to follow, and you will be able to learn how to make these recipes and enjoy your delicious creations. One of the workshop’s highlights is seeing Mrs. Rocíos cousin prepare the traditional wood oven where the amasijos will be baked.
The corn cookies were very easy to make, and my son truly enjoyed mixing the ingredients and eating them at the end of the workshop.
To take a little break between recipes, my son had a chance to feed the chickens. He loved the animals all throughout our trip.
To my surprise, making almojábanas was very easy too. The trick is to use fresh ingredients. I have to say these were the best almojábanas I’ve ever had. Another thing I learned is that before baking them, we have to make a slight indentation at the bottom of the bun to help them rise.
By the way, if you want to see how to make the almojábanas, be sure to watch the video below:
As the day progressed, we enjoyed walking the property, resting, and breathing the fresh mountain air.
For dinner, we booked a Noche de Antaño.
What is a Noche de Antaño?
A Noche de Antaño is a celebration with traditional music, food, and dancing. Noche means night, while Antaño refers to things from the past.
During our Noche de Antaño, we had a delicious dinner prepared by Mrs. Rocío and her family. Our dinner included papaya juice, grilled chicken and pork, patacones (fried plantains), papas criollas (a type of small yellow potato typical of the region) maduros (sweet plantains) and cubios (a locally grown root type vegetable similar to yuca). While we were enjoying our delicious meal, two amazing musicians entertained us with traditional Colombian music. It’s simply impossible not to dance. We all ended up dancing by the end of the night.
The following day we woke up before sunrise. We were super excited to walk to a nearby waterfall to do what is locally known as Avistamiento de Aves.
What is Avistamiento de Aves?
Avistamiento de aves is birdwatching. Avistamiento means sighting, and aves means birds. Before we headed out, Mrs. Rocío gave us a delicious hot chocolate to start the day and warm us up before walking into the mountain. Colombia is home to more than 1954 types of birds, so it was super exciting to grab some binoculars and spot them everywhere during this beautiful hike.
Mrs. Rocío would point out different birds as we walked through the mountain. She is highly knowledgeable and could see the birds way before any of us could. She also shares about every species and what they do to survive. Seeing the birds is impressive, but walking while serenaded by their songs … is magical.
Upon our return, we enjoyed a delicious warm breakfast that consisted of changua (a traditional soup), bread, and fresh fruit.
The Posada Villa Rouse is truly a unique place. It’s a place to connect with nature, breathe fresh air, make new friendships, and fall in love with Colombia. Staying there provides more than just a place to sleep. The Posada Villa Rouse is a magical experience. Highly recommended.
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