In Cartegena, it was hot. The weather and the bureaucratic runaround involved in getting our truck out of port and legal to drive in Colombia made the holiday decorations slowly sprouting in government offices and local businesses seem more like cruel jokes than cheerful reminders of the season. It was easy to forget Christmas was coming as we went about our daily life. First SCUBA diving in tropical Taganga, then making the push to Medellin and exploring jungles and salt mines with Jordan.
Once we made it to Bogota, things slowed down a bit and it was easier to get into the spirit. The climate and architecture reminded us a bit of Portland and we began solidifying plans with friends for the holiday. At this point, decorations were everywhere. An after-dark push to a backroad campsite was punctuated by colorful lights adorning hillside farm houses and small-town squares were transformed with gigantic nativity scenes.
We’d long planned to visit Steel Horse Finca ever since fellow travelers Yvette and Paul traded their life on the road to start a haven and home for overlanders making their way through Colombian coffee country. When we heard Yvette was planning a right proper British Christmas, complete with family style meals, movies, and game nights we knew there was no other place in all of South America we’d rather be.
We arrived on the 22nd to find the big blue Iveco of Tuck’s Truck and the little green TVR of Pub2Pub already ensconced in the newly expanded parking area. I’d been following the adventures of Ben of Pub2Pub and Marcus and Julie Tuck for years. They’re solidly on my list of overlanding heros, so the opportunity to spend Christmas with them and all the amazing people who rolled through the gates of Steel Horse after them was truly an honor.
As we all settled in there was a buzz of excitement each time the rumble of a new addition was heard outside the gates. Greetings were exchanged, dimensions sized up, and another block was added to our oversized game of vehicular Tetris. Soon we had nearly 20 people from 6+ countries, 8 overland rigs, an unquantifiable mass of playful dogs, and one gigantic tarantula called Fredrick all sharing space, meals, traditions, and experiences.
There was a nearly perpetual “tour of homes” as we surveyed and discussed the ins and outs of everything from the Tuck’s high technology road-going tractor to Ben’s V8 powered English sports car. We decorated for Christmas with whatever we could find or create, cooked up family favorites to share, and passed out Christmas cocktails and bottles of wine.
We performed maintenance and repairs (of course), played with the dogs, and even had a boxing day horse vs TVR drag race. We planned our routes and shared favorite campsites around the fireplace sipping homemade eggnog and eating fudge.
I love the holidays. The time from Thanksgiving to New Years is my favorite part of the year. Spending time with the people who love and understand you for who you are is an indispensable part of my life. I was apprehensive of spending the entire season away from home, but we’ve found making friends in the overland community to be incredibly easy. Whatever common thread inspired us all to leave our lives behind and hit the road, ties us together in a way that creates family from strangers in hours. The community created by our life on the road, combined with the thought and care Yvette put into hosting us all made our time at Steel Horse Finca the closest thing to being home imaginable.
Thanks to everyone there for giving us the gift of an absolutely unforgettable Christmas. We love you and will see you again, somewhere down the road.