New Year’s Day loomed and I decided to take a walk out of town and wander in the countryside. But first, I had to go back to the juice bar to get another of their amazing concoctions and a sandwich. Duly fortified, I wandered down a road at the outskirts of town, crossed a tiny bridge and began my little trek.
Down at the river, one could see señoras washing clothes and children bathing. I passed the faded green cinder block cluster of buildings that was the local hospital, which signalled the edge of town and also the end of the paved road. Dust from the occasional colectivos, motorbikes and buses led me to veer off the main road as soon as I was able and take a track leading off between two fields.
The shaded path was far more tranquil and I passed a small hacienda with the usual assortment of fowl pecking and foraging in its general vicinity. Two señoras came along and seemed surprised to see a stranger in their midsts. When the track forked we went our separate ways and I continued on past a field of sugarcane. In another field further along, a small herd of cattle languished in the shade of a tree oblivious to the magnificent vista of the mountain range behind them.
A young boy on a bicycle passed me and pulled off at a tiny casa on the side of the track. An assortment of small children came out to greet him, then continued on with their play. I came to a creek and crossed on the stepping stones alongside the barbed wire fence. Further up, I passed another hacienda with numerous holding yards depicted by post tops painted a bright yellow.
Shortly after, my trek in this direction came to a halt as the path ended at a large, well presented hacienda, so I made the return trip back the way I came. As I reached the hacienda with the holding yards, two hombres on horseback were herding cattle along the track and into the yards. My presence must have disturbed their task and several of the cows started wandering back down the track towards me. One of the hombres broke off from the mob and wheeled them back around again into the yard. I made sure to get well out of their way so as not to disturb them again.
A group of young boys on pushbikes passed me further down the track and delighted in the fact that a stranger was in their midst. Clearly, they don’t get too many visitors to their little part of the world. Back on the main road, I walked up the hill back into town.
All that was left of the day was to do the mundane washing that travellers on the road need to occasionally do to ensure they are more socially acceptable by the general population as I was heading off again in the morning.