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It was a work trip and we were off to see some properties in the state of Meta, located in the centre of Colombia. It would be 2 days of working, followed by 2 days of holiday at a farm/ holiday home (in Spanish called a ‘finca’) close to the town of Villavicencio.
Meta is a region of the plains. Long, straight, seemly unending roads with long grasses and a few trees - a very familiar landscape for me from inland road trips back home in Australia. As you drive further away from the main roads the scenery changes into an unusual hilly landscape. The climate of the Meta region was for me, perfect! It was quite warm, around 35 degrees but without the humidity that makes warmer climates so uncomfortable. The land is used for cattle, but rarely crops, although this area is becoming more developed especially with the discovery of petroleum reservoirs throughout the area. The small town of Puerto Gaitan, which serves as a gateway to the petroleum reservoirs, is expanding as more and more petroleum companies use the town as a base for accommodation and other requirements.
Puerto Lopez, another small town in the area, is the centre point of the whole country. It was close to this town that we visited the first property of a client. The area was subject to flooding which meant driving around the property in a car was out of the question. So we took horses. It was only my third time riding a horse, but after my initial panic of having to do this without the suggested safety of riding in line one after the other as is often done in tourist tours, it became quite easy and comfortable. We crossed rivers that were so deep that we ended up with rather wet feet and jeans, we went up (and down) steep sections in order to view the property at a higher level and I even managed some trotting along the grassy flat areas.
The second part of our work trip consisted of some 10 hours of driving to another property a long way from anywhere. The distance wasn’t so much the issue as was the fact that the roads were not particularly good and required a 4WD to get around. The landscape was stunning. And the property was also very beautiful, with a little farmhouse and some cows and horses in the ‘front yard’. We were able to get around that property with cars and also had the opportunity to take a short bushwalk to a scenic lake.
The remainder of our time in Meta was spent relaxing at a finca close to the town of Villavicencio. I spent time with the family of my boss, read my book, played with the children and ate unbelievably good food. The holiday house was situated on a lake in which lives the pirarucu, an endangered fresh water fish that comes from the Amazon and that were brought here in effort to conserve them. These fish are one of the biggest in the world, growing up to 4.5m in length. I was not fortunate enough to see them while visiting the Amazon River, but they were easy to spot in the lake where apparently they have started breeding. These fish and the others in the lake created many hours of amusement for the children and adults alike.
The region of Meta is vast and this area of Colombia is not on the tourist trail. However, the town of Villavicencio is only about a 3 hour drive from Bogota and the roads are very well maintained. This town is a popular place for locals to visit and escape the cold dreary weather of Bogota on one of the many long weekends throughout the year. And if you’re not lucky enough to have your own finca, you can always rent one.