Saturday, March 20, 2010

Guasamilla, in words (Monday, March 8)

Guasamilla is the family’s ranch. The house is more than 200 years old, predating the Spaniards. It’s been in the family since the 1970s, when Gentil, Gabe’s grandfather, bought it as an investment. Gustavo, who now owns the ranch, has been working on it for 26 years with Patricia, his wife, and has grown it from a small finca to a 396 hectares, or nearly 1,000 acres, of working ranch. The first year, Gustavo lived without electricity.

It’s hard to describe how magical this place is. Everything is alive. The three dogs, Quito, Franquesa, and Neron, run freely through the property. So do the eight horses, one with a tiny baby, Luna, just 10 days old (she was born on a full moon). And the 120 cows, which are raised for beef and whose milk is sold to one of the local biscocho makers. There are 12 chickens, and three tiny little chicks born just a week before we arrived (Gabe has fallen in love). Loons gather in a tree in front a small lagoon in front of the property. The house is filled with antiques collected by Estrella, Gabe’s grandmother, and on every wall hangs paintings or sculpture by Gustavo and Patricia, as well as old family photographs, antique curios, and an incredible self-portrait that a teenaged Juan Manuel (Gabe’s father), made before he left Colombia for the U.S. In a family of artists, the stories told by pictures are sometimes more illuminating than anything that we could put into words.

And everywhere, mountains, and wind.

I take a breath here and I am stunned by the beauty. Right now, I am sitting on the front porch with three dogs at my feet, and all I can hear is the wind through the trees and the slight tinkling of chimes from somewhere inside the courtyard. I’m not sure how we’ll ever leave.