Seeing the statues

Trip Start Jul 21, 2009
Trip End Apr 28, 2010

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Where I stayed
Hotel Colonial

Flag of Colombia  ,
Sunday, December 13, 2009

The past few days, John and I have been exploring San Agustin and the surrounding areas.  Approaching from Popayan, as we did, you could easily be convinced this place is in the absolute middle of nowhere.  It was about a 7.5 hour very rough bus ride, after which we had to backtrack another 30 minutes or so to go around a washed out road.  All this from a town that was pretty small itself!  On the positive side, though, the surrounding countryside is as mountainous and beautiful as it is difficult.  

The area around San Agustin is known for it`s archeological sites.  Quite a ways back, (6th to 14th century or so), there was a practice of elaborate burials, with large tombs, stone entryways to the tomb areas, and statues at the front of the tombs.  The statues are the main attraction, as several are very large, and shaped as people, masks or animals.  On our first day in the area, John and I joined a jeep tour to visit some of the further out sites.  We visited one large park that shows several tombs and statues at their original locations, as well as a smaller but similar park.  In addition, we stopped at two fabulous waterfalls, one with some great panoramic views and the other with a flock of parrots flying by.   We also stopped to visit the river area known as El Estrecho.  The widest river in Colombia has its headwaters near here, and the river passes through a narrow opening between boulders, where the river is only 2 meters wide.  For us, this was just a pretty stretch of river, but for Colombians, apparently, itīs amazing to see a river they think of as being several kilometers wide at a point where it is only a few meters wide.

On the second day, we continued exploring the ruins by visiting a second archeological park, which had many more statues, tombs, and some nice views of the surrounding area.  We also visited a local farm, and talked with them a bit about the common crops of the area (coffee and beans, for example, were drying in the sun). 
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