Well, another challenging bus trip. This one wasn’t so dangerous, but it took six hours to go 80 miles. I had a nice seatmate, Jonas from Germany, so the time went pretty fast with our visiting.
I arrived in San Augustin, a small town with many archeological sites around it. I stayed at a hostal that made its own cheese, yoghurt, etc., as the owner is from Switzerland. It’s in a very pretty mountainous area, although that made problems about going up and down. I was in a six-person dorm with a thatched roof. Mosquito nets were provided, although I did not encounter any/many mosquitoes.
First off I went to the Parque Arqueológico, which has a collection of statues and tombs, some of which were on this site, and some of which have been moved here. They are from the 1st to 10th C., for the most part, although there is evidence that people had settled in this area way before that. The Fuente de Lavapatas was especially interesting, as a complex of baths showing reptiles, lizards and human figures, thought to have been used for ritual ablutions. Looking off site, the mountains with their interesting and beautiful flora made a spectacular setting for these figures. To be sure, they don’t compare with the Mayan figures in the artistic sense, but still they were fun to see, and to contemplate what the artists had in mind.
I heard from my friend, Val, who had Skyped with her sisters-in-law who live in Medellin to ask them if arepa were really made of yucca, as I had said, as Val thought they were made of corn—she lived here many years ago. Well, the answer was that different parts of the country use yucca or white corn or yellow corn, so all is correct!
An excursion by jeep took me and six other tourists all over the area for a long day. We stopped at a sugar cane processing place, then went on to explore two big archeological sites. These sites resemble the Parque that I had already seen, with tombs lined with huge rocks, and heavy dolmans topping side rocks around statues guards. One of these was purported to be a pregnant woman—I’m glad it was pointed out as I’m not sure I would have spotted that!
A couple of waterfalls (one said to be the highest in South America) and some pretty birds along with the glorious mountain scenery added a lot to the day. The group was fun—two Russian girls-Didia, and Paulina, one Polish girl living in Ireland-Dorota, Jonas, from Germany, Joerg, from Switzerland, Ron, from California and me. We got back to the hostal about 6:00 PM—a long day, but nice!
The following morning, five of the six people in the dorm were rising early to catch early buses. It was still dark and we were on split second timing with the bathroom, when the electricity went out while a Dutch girl was showering and I was dressing. Luckily it didn’t stay off too long. By 6:30 we were all ready to go, Jonas and I to catch a 7:00 bus to Neiva, from which he would go on to Medellin and I would go on to Villaviaja; the Dutch girls were going to Ecuador and Dorota was going—elsewhere, I can’t remember where.
It was a very nice bus ride with beautiful mountain scenery and good roads, for the most part. We arrived at noon and I quickly caught my van to Villaviaja, a small town located in the ‘desert.’ I guess it’s not really a desert, technically, but if it walks like a duck—–.
I stayed in a new spiffy hotel with a pool, which I enjoyed as it was very hot there, although it was quite a struggle getting out. I arranged to have a motorcycle taxi take me out to the visitor’s center at 5:30 PM to catch the last of the afternoon sun, and to watch the sunset. At 7:00 I could walk across the road to the observatory and listen/participate in a lecture on astronomy. Unfortunately it turned out that the lecturer only spoke Spanish, and while I can say a few things in Spaish, following an astronomical lecture was difficult. Still, (we were about 18 people) we got to look through three telescopes and see the moon (and photograph it), Jupiter, that had two bands across it, and other stars like Beetle Juice. Even though I missed a lot of the info, it was still fun. The motorcycle taxi came for me as arranged at 9:00 PM. It was sort of like a tuk-tuk, but home made and bigger. As we jounced across the cattle barriers—many of them—my teeth really got to rattling.
The next morning I got an early van into Neiva and then the bus to Bogota. Because of a mix-up, I didn’t get to stay in ‘my’ hostal, which I liked so much, but stayed in its sister hostal nearby. That evening I had a lovely last dinner in Colombia—good pasta and a half bottle of good Chilean wine.
Next morning I had to have another look at the Botero Museum. And then another look at the Museum del Oro—I probably won’t be here again any time soon, so I shall try to store those images in my brain.
What a treat later that day! I was invited to lunch with an old friend that I hadn’t seen in 10 years. We spent our time together catching up on all our doings. I managed to take the Transmilenio bus to her apartment, and her friend’s driver drove me back to my hostal.
Then I tried to check in for my flight home for the next day, but it said I have to talk to an agent at the airport. Well, I again took the Transmilenio bus and then another bus to the airport on Saturday, and got home at midnight. Now it’s Sunday morning, Feb. 16th and I’m HOME! It was a good trip, but it’s always nice to get home and sleep in your own bed.
Until next time—-