San Augustin

Leaving the Desert of Tatacoa, my next stop down south was San Augustin, a little village which main attractions is the landscape and the multiple archeological remains.

The trip was meant to take 5 hours but ended up as usual being 7 hours. We even had two military checks on the way, nothing too serious, some people get body checked and bag checked as well, some not, I believe it’s more about the exercise itself.

If I can add one tip about taking a bus at any latin american terminal: Never accept the offer of the first man who comes to you and tells there is a bus leaving right now to your destination. It’s true that there is a bus leaving now, BUT you don’t know if it’s direct or if it will stop 100 times along the road to pick up or leave people, and if the man stresses that it’s the ONLY one….it’s to fulfill his bus, so you will surely get the worst left seat. Best tip is just to avoid this person and take 10-15 min to choose the right bus company and ask at each office for related information.

Leaving Neiva (the main town closeby to the Desert), the souther we went, the greener, we passed through some really nice landscapes, overlooking the Rio Magdalena, which crosses almost the entire country. We will see a lot of cotton fields and diverse fruit crops.

Arriving in the late afternoon in San Augustin, the lonely planet and a lot of travelers recommended us a nice guesthouse/hostel a bit more uphill called “El Maco”, I can ensure anyone that this is surely the best place ever to stay for a couple of nights. My little cabaña was the loveliest ever, the staff is super friendly and the food served is delicious! A real quality, peaceful hostel in the nature just out of the village, runned by…a Swiss guy.

Here is my little cabaña on two floors (bottom floor is the bathroom) :

Cabana el Maco

 

Cabana el Maco

Cabana el maco

After enjoying a a great night of real sleep (i was soooo dreaming of this one after not sleeping well for weeks in noisy Bogota), we booked a jeep tour for the day, to overview a few archeological sites, but also a few natural spots worth to see. But as a first stop, we decided to have a bit of local feeling and have little walk at the local market.

Fruits and veggies stands

When sugar cane is being processed, this is the first step called “panela” at this stage there is nothing chemical yet added to create “sugar”. So it’s actually the best option to add “authentic none chemical sugar” to your coffee.

Panela

The meat is being presented very differently than back home in Europe 😉

Butcher at the market

Platano (the banana you have to cook in order to eat it).

Platano

Lots of different beans, here called “frijoles”, the best dish to make you fart all day.

Beans at the market

Colombia has some local tropical fruit that it’s not even worth trying to translate. Guanabana is one of them, and its delicious! You can usually have fresh fruit juices all over the country.

Tropical fruits

Maracuya, is the passion fruit, see the size of them here!!! HUGE!

And tomate de arbol, is a sweet fruit as well, also excellent in juice.

Tropical fruits

Our first stop in terms of tour, was the “Estretcho del Rio Magdalena” basically, the place unique place, where the river passes in a tight path of 2.2 meters. What’s more impressive, is that depending on the rain, the river can go up to 6 meters higher at this place.

Estrecho del Rio

Nearby the river a lot of butterflies joined themselves in the quest of some rare mineral I believe.

Mariposas

What has been really enjoyable is the landscape throughout our day trip, many small mounts with coffee plants, sugar cane and Lulo (another typical fruit from colombia).

Landscape

 

Coffee plantations.

Coffee plants

Lulo plants.

Lulo

 

We crossed many small villages around, and the main local school bus is this fancy one.

Local village bus

We also had the chance to see this 400 meters 3 waterfalls joined called El salto del Angel.

IMG_3276

During this day we went to see a few archeological sites and the following day we will focus our morning discovery on the official Archeological site of San Augustin.

IMG_3301

 

The spread of the sites is pretty wide but doesn’t bring more information from one place to another, this is unfortunate but the reality is that the archeologist haven’t found any written material to help us understand how these people used to live, what were their custom, their language, what represent exactly the statues and the tombs found. It’s all left to hypothesis.

 

IMG_3288

My hypothesis for this one, maybe he’s ready to go to ski!?

Not sure there was some snow in this tropical region thousands of years ago…. but….who knows ?

IMG_3295

San Augustin statues

This was an interesting side of Colombia, but unfortunately not very impressive, for the lack of information provided, and of course if you have just passed in Mexico and Guatemala, these statues and tombs remain of less interest.

From San Augustin, I will go back to Bogota for a couple of more job interviews, that will be a loooong 10-11 hour bus ride with Taxi Verdes (which I would not recommend).