The morning is normally all mine when I wake up in a tent but this camp site is a little exposed and, in the light of day, visible from the road. I pack and organise my gear and lug my things up the hill, push the bike under the barbed wire and climb over the locked gate. Only then do I sit down to make a cup of coffee, on the respectable side of the fence.
As the water starts to boil, two boys arrive on horses. They bid me good morning politely and ask no questions. I offer to move out of way of the gate but one of boys points out that it is locked and so he will have to go under the fence. He has salt for the cows. The other lad watches me with curbed curiousity. When the boy with the salt returns, he slides carefully under the thorny wire, and then they leave, riding off in opposite directions.
Coffee and porridge done, I, too, go my way.
Of course, I end up being fed and staying for the night with Marialena and her sons. It is all I can do to get away the next day. If fact, I’d probably still be there if they had their way.
Colombian hospitality still astounds me. It seems that people are all trying, desperately, to undo the poor impression they feel that the decades of conflict have created in the minds of foreigners about their country. Almost everybody I meet asks how Colombia seems to me – and how Colombia is viewed, more generally, by outsiders.