In the mountain town of Villa de Leyva, Colombia, Amy and I stayed in an Airbnb house that is appropriately called Casa Realidad y Ensueno. That translates to “The House of Reality and Dreams” and is named after a poetry book by the host’s great grandfather. The house covers about two acres and has about twenty buildings, loads of decorations and beautiful art that makes the place feel like a dream. The complex includes the main house, a barn, a Beatles man cave, a glass bedroom on a boulder, a chapel, a breakfast nook and a Fairyland. The place is amazing and I want to tease you with a few pictures.
The Airbnb hosts are Natalia and Juan who have an amazingly cute little three year-old daughter named Mariana. When we arrived on a Thursday afternoon, they barely had time to say hello before they left for Bogota where they were born and went to college. Amy and I were left in the complex wondering how this young couple had collected and decorated the house with so many things. They had told me that they had only lived here for four months after living in Taiwan for nine years and Bogota for two, so I wondered how they got so much stuff and who made the artwork – mainly dioramas.
Amy and I had most of the crazily decorated house to ourselves for the long weekend. With the owners gone, we had the full grounds to ourselves. We got to enjoy the hammock cabana with beautiful views of the valley and mountain. The house was built to entertain and the kitchen sat eight while the ornate dining room sat ten more. We were the only people in the breakfast nook that seats 16 people inside and 12 more outside. A nice Colombian woman lived on the property and made us breakfast, but she couldn’t explain the crazy house.
When Natalia and Juan returned from Bogota on the Monday, they shared a bottle of wine with us and told us how Juan’s parents had decorated the house over the last 18 years. Juan and Natalia started renting out six rooms on Airbnb and had just finished upgrading the property with a commercial kitchen to host events like weddings. Juan’s parents had always entertained lots of guests over the years and many of them had given their parents collectibles, but most of the stuff was bought by them. The collectibles had accumulated to a crazy collection of hearts, crosses, fairies, roosters, Beatles-memorabilia and much more.
Juan and Natalia were full of energy and told us all about Colombia, South America and their home. The original builder of the house was famous for using green wine bottles in the walls as windows and for lighting. Their neighborhood is full of other artists’ homes and the most famous one is the Casa Terracotta house that is right across the street. (I made this video about that crazy house.) They told us how Juan’s mother had made a lot of the art in the house. She makes dioramas like this manger scene over a boulder that forms part of the foundation of the home. There are too many of these creations to see in one night, so they agreed to show us the property the next night over some more wine and other intoxicants.
The next night, we started with wine, coca tea, local delicacies and some fine aguardiente Nectar Azul. Aguardiente is a distilled spirit and Bogota is known for a special anise-infused one known as Nectar Azul. I’m not into drinking straight, strong spirits like whiskey or brandy, but this Nectar Azul was delicious right out of the bottle. The anise isn’t overpowering like ouzo or Sambuca, and we all agreed that it is refreshing. Juan lined up some shots and they went down really well. With a good buzz going, Juan lead us to some special rooms and buildings that only special guests get to see.
The first stop was Fairyland. Fairyland is a very small shack that features a diorama with all kinds of fairies that Juan’s mother collected and arranged in a landscape. She enhances the base fairies with paints or adds things to them to make them very special. Here’s another picture of Fairyland that doesn’t do it justice.
After Fairlyland, they took us to the barn that is probably 10’x16’ and full of animatronic farm animals. Animated cows, chickens and pigs are in the barn with sound effects. She even recreates a scene from Charlotte’s Web with a pig climbing on a fence to look up at Charlotte the spider dangling from the ceiling. The barn has a loft with more pigs and chickens clucking away.
The next stop was Juan’s father Beatle-themed man cave. The walls of the man cave were covered with custom paintings of the Beatles and thousands of dollars’ worth of memorabilia. It was an amazing tribute to the Beatles with drums, guitars, microphones and more. We should have done some karaoke, but we settled for listening to the Beatles and having some more aguardiente. We hung out there till the wee hours of the morning listening to the Fab 4.
I can’t begin to tell you how warm and inviting Natalie and Juan were to us. Amy and I had such a memorable and relaxing stay there that we plan to go back. There is plenty of room at the House of Reality and Dreams, so please come along!
Here’s a drone video of the house that they made. The cover picture is of the glass bedroom that is built right on top of a boulder.
They have a website here with a lot more photos. Most of these photos were taken by Amy. Thanks!
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