A near perfect day

Trip Start Sep 28, 2011
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Colombia  ,
Monday, April 2, 2012

Stupid o'clock for the bus to San Augstin in the morning and with a bit of luck we'll run into the girls again.  By girls I mean Dani.  What we're not prepared for is the utter ridiculousness of the road conditions.  Everywhere I've been so far in Colombia I've managed to get there via decent enough highway.  You would have thought that the main (only) connection to one of the countries top tourist attractions wouldn't literally resemble a lengthy slice of rocky road.  I'm slightly concerned that the dodgy eggs and rubbish coffee eaten in the bus station greasy spoon will be revisiting.  The whole experience is improved by how rammed the vehicle is, how small the leg room, and the two young schoolies sitting up the back shrieking everytime we dip into a pothole.  And that's a lot.  Consider travel sickness pills, ear plugs, headache tablets, rope and duck tape.

Fair play to the government though as it looks like they're at least trying to pave the disaster.  The only problem is the obviously slow progress they're making.  "ROAD!"  Yells a delighted Paddy as we lurch onto tarmac, only for it to be 30 metres long then back onto the roller coaster.  Don't even attempt to sleep without a Valium.

We're offloaded and transferred to a new vehicle after a mammoth seven hours of the vomit inducing bus rally.  "He's where we get mugged", comments my companion as we're squeezed into the 4x4 by shady local types.  Spot the gringos.  It would be very easy to rob us dry of everything, but so far since Nicaragua I've been really lucky.  The trend continues here and we make it into the town hanging out the back of the jeep with white knuckles.

From here on I can honestly say I have one of the best days on my travels, and you'll be delighted to know it didn't involve a girl.  Kind of.  We're greeted at the hostel by a local chap by the name of Jose, and I get very excited at being told we're horse riding with the chicas in the afternoon.  Two of my favourite pastimes.  San Augstin is famous for it's many archaeological sights and parks, with standing stones, idols and statues dating back centuries from indigenous tribes.  You have the option of touring the country by jeep or horseback.  It's a total no brainer.

Back on the beast once again in the early afternoon rain I realise just how crap I look on a horse, particularly when I'm trying my hardest to impress Dani.  I've got no doubt I'll be flung from it's back as I try to show off my limited skills, attempting to kid on I'm an accomplished rider.  Paddy has a hat.  It's an Indiana Jones number that makes him look better than me.  A young dutch couple have joined us, wearing decent looking trek trousers, waterproof jackets and trail shoes.  The girls are provided ponchos.  I'm wrapping my camera in my t-shirt to protect it from the rain, exposing my ever increasing ghost white beer belly, wearing jeans I found in Medellin and tennis shoes.  Panties would be dropping.

When the clouds pass the sun bathes us in a perfect glow and we trot up into the surrounding hills.  They've put me on a bolshy animal that likes to bolt with little encouragement.  This I have absolutely no problem with, and delight in opening her up whenever I get the chance.  I inquire as to her name, with no doubt my steed has a call sign befitting a hero sheriff ready to save the inhabitants of a mid west town from the fearsome grip of the cruel Black-Diablo gang.  "Muņeca" comes the reply, which is Spanish for Doll.  I'm utterly devastated.

Eventually we arrive at our first archaeological sight; three stone heads under a recently built shelter.  Our guide appears very knowledgeable, however I would have gone into detail regarding the history behind the stones if I spoke Spanish.  I managed to glean that nobody really knows which tribe carved them, and that they're very old.  Google it.  I spend the informative sessions taking pictures.

We continue on to a number of different sights, stopping for freshly squeezed juice and enjoying some incredible views.  The weather could not have turned out better, as the golden sun colours the countryside with that late September haze.  "Have you ever kissed anyone on the back of a horse?" I grin at Dani as I pull along side, but by now I've realised I'm not going to get anywhere and it's all in jest.  At least she's still laughing and not reaching for the mace.

By the time the sun is sinking behind the green hills, we've seen some beautiful sights, enjoyed each others company, felt total freedom and bruised balls on the back of the horse (not the girls) and created cracking memories.  I'm leading the group back to town as darkness falls, and it's just simply exhilarating.  My mind plays through movie roles as the stranger rolls into town, locals eyes wide at the appearance of an outsider.  Dismounting and whispering thanks to my steed, I have a small moment where I consider this one of the best days of my life, and I don't feel the need to chase the kiss to complete it.

We say our goodbyes to the girls taking the night bus back to Bogota and enjoy English style chip shop chips, fried eggs, half a chicken and an ice cold beer from a local eatery.  A homely, hearty meal to complete a near perfect day, worth every minute of the shakey bus journey here.  My days in Colombia might be numbered, but it's certainly been an experience to remember, and it won't be too long before I return.  Next time I'll buy a hat, and just maybe get that kiss in lazy afternoon sun on horseback.

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