Kangeroo bus journey to the valley of statues

Trip Start Dec 10, 2011
Trip End Sep 29, 2012

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Where I stayed
El Maco

Flag of Colombia  , Huila,
Saturday, March 24, 2012

Another day and another bus journey.

We grab the 10am bus to San Agustin along a dirt track through Purace National Park and more and more dirt tracks.

The road is being improved but not soon enough for our journey.

We jump up and down out of our seats bouncing as the vehicle hits the pot holes in the dirt track, that's meant to be a road.  Even my rucksack with my netbook inside, does a somersault through the air to the floor a couple of times. (and survives!). We are asked to change bus at a junction and our rucksacks are lifted to the roof of the jeep, we jump in and are dropped into the centre of San Agustin. We walk in the rain (yes again), up to our hostal a little out of town. We walk in the rain the 1.5 km up hill and find our chalet and two double beds, one each, nice we think a bit of comfort! The views are beautiful, very green and the area has dense forestation and rolling hills. We're also up in the clouds again with the gods.  The place we stay at has an outdoor kitchen so we have fun making tea whilst counting the number of insects and watching the very large cockroaches and the regular visiting rat who climbs from the tree branch into the store cupboard.

We're here to visit the archileogical site of San Agustin, we walk the 3km there and register our entry with our names, country, profession. Some freudian slip on my part, and I write 'Colombiana' in the book and the guard looks at me a bit cross as if I did it on purpose. I cross it out and write 'Inglaterra'.

As we enter the site a policeman approaches us and asks if he can walk with us in the park to practice his English, swiftly followed by a guide. We stay we do not want to have  guide but they tell us they just both want to practice their English, so we agree. The policeman at one point even watched us to watch us in his band in the local police station, this time we kindly declined. He tells us that many tourists are afraid of him being a policeman so I think it's nice we take our time to talk to him and they both explain the history behind the extravated statues here at San Agustin from around 2000 years ago and it's very mysterious that they are here with some representing women, men or animals. The history behind it is quite vague and more myth we here than fact.

We wonder around the town as well, seeing lots of great vegetables, fruits and local stores to buy food for cooking and eating later. I buy a leather hand crafted belt with the colombian flag colours on it, red, yellow and blue. I call it my little piece of Colombia I am now going to have with me everywhere I go, well when I wear trousers with the belt! I observe the most police I have seen in one place so far in Colombia, I have kind of got used to them boarding the buses to check your documents or bags, but here there were many. Even guarding the entrance to the local school and during the day were two machine-armed army men, as well as police in front of them to the main entrance on the road, at night when we left for our night bus to Bogota, we also observed the street was shut down to vehicles I think to minimise any disruptions. This was my only reminder that I was in a less safe place in Colombia. My British government travel advice actually advised me against all travel to San Agustin, this is FARC territory and problems are happening here still.

That night after the big walk at the site, we eat at a restaurant we spotted full of local people. Long chorizo sausages smoke over the fire at the front and we order up a starter of chorizo, that melted in our mouths and steak and a local delicatessy of slow roasted pork with sweet sauce, potatoes and salad. Do check out Donde Richard if you are here but get there before 7pm as that's when it shuts, Colombians eat their main meal during the day not in the evening. The food was the best I have ate in Colombia and owner/chef Richard welcomes us warmly and encourages us to take a picture with him as he proudly talked about his food and restaurant. 

It rained and rained today and we also had an electricity power cut overnight, but after the walking and the food Nadine and I slept pretty well!
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