24 Nov – Hungover in Popayan. Slept/laid-feeling-sorry-for-myself until 1pm or so. Then, walked around town. Returned to the same restaurant I’d had dinner at the previous night – discovering it was run/owned by one of the chaps I’d been drinking with later in the night. Struggled down some food, and lots of juice. Then, just wandered the central city some more. Pretty and white. Everything is white. Then, some internet in order to write the previous update – and then got spotted by the bar owner. So – some get-better cervezas. Started chatting with some of the owner’s friends. Eventually left. Just to jot down some notes from the hostel wall – left by other travellers with tips on hostels in San Agustin, and which guides are thieves, and which are good. Including the guy who goes by the name of Jerry Lewis – and sees a hidden penis in every single one of the statues.
Then, dinner. At fancy looking place. Ordered the Argentinian Churrascaria. Looking forward to good, well-cooked steak – and other tasty bits of well barbequed meat. I got a Colombian steak, and a potato. The potato did have a slice of cheese in the middle. So that was nice. But the steak. Tenderised for starters. A decent piece of steak shouldn’t need to be tenderised, for jeebers’ sake. So, I ate as much as I could, and ran off to my new local bar. And drank cerveza until I could drink no more. Then – bed time, and no hallucinations. Or ghosts – which is another theory which came to me later to explain the odd occurence the previous night.
25 Nov – Slept in more than I intended, but managed to check out and get to the bus station in time for a decently-timed bus to San Agustin. San Agustin is only 130km away, but the journey takes over 6 hours. This is solely due to the condition of the road. Good fun. Old old Chevy bus – with brightly decorated front dashboard/entire wall. Very bumpy road. Top speed of 30km/hr. I know this, because buses here have little LED displays with the current speed of the bus. Buses all through the continent have them – but Colombia is the first place where they’ve actually worked.
The nature on the sides of the road was beautiful. To describe just how beautiful – it looked exactly, EXACTLY, like New Zealand. Down to individual plants. Kinda cool. But, eventually we got to San Agustin. Picked up a couple of gringo girls on the road about 5km out. They’d caught another bus which didn’t actually go through San Agustin – but just dropped them off there. And assured them another bus would be through some time, that they wouldn’t have to pay for. I think I got lucky with my ‘choice’ of bus. Anyway, the girls and I ended up going to the same hostel together. Met two english guys and a frenchman. The girls are english and swiss. And we discover that we’ve arrived on the first day of a local carnival. So, we all head into town. Entire town is packed with market stalls, and then we discover the horse stable area of town. A fair has been set up, along with heaps of tents serving food. A fire outside, with a rack of meat leant up over it. The meat is apparently pork. Seems to be heaps of steaks somehow attached to each other – forming a sheet of meat. That rhymes – so you know it’s true. We eat some of this, and drink plenty of cerveza. People return back to the hostel in dribs and drabs. Young english guy and myself eventually return, and sit in common area drinking cerveza and chatting about life until 3 or so. I should really describe our hostel. Our dorm is a big teepee looking thing, two stories. Top story – three double beds set in a circle. Bottom floor – open walled lounge-type area. With hammock – as is nearly every available space around the grounds. The hostel is set on a hill overlooking the valley. And is very very chilled out. Never see the owner (another frenchie) – as I suspect he is constantly lying in a hammock in the private quarters – the second floor of the main building. Main building is entirely made of mud walls with bottles set into it, and often decorated with mosaics. All in all – a hippy’s dream, in other words.
26 Nov – Eventually got up, and staggered down to town. Had lunch, where I met the young englishman. Then, I wandered out to the Parque Arquelogico. Rains a little bit on the way, but I keep dry by buying a cerveza for the road. Maybe a 30 minute walk – and I arrive there. Another UNESCO World Heritage Site to tick off the list. I do the whole thing, and it’s kind of cool. Certainly not “comparable in size and style to the more famous Easter Island statues”, as my guidebook says. Although I guess saying that a big statue in San Agustin is half the size of a small moai is comparing them. But, Rapanui never had a statue of two monkeys having ‘relations’. Or a statue of some guy grinning while holding a baby upside down by it’s feet. Anyway – not as cool as Rapanui, but still pretty good. Lots of tombs being guarded by weird statues, pretty much. Then, I started to walk back towards town. But – got a ride on a scooter by some friendly lady. Dropped me off outside her pizza joint, and suggested I go there for dinner tonight. Fair enough – and I planned to, it seemed only fair, but when I returned to the hostel it turns out that as a special treat, froggie’s wife was going to cook a homecooked meal if we wanted. I figured it would be rude not to. So – more cervezas, and then a homecooked meal. Proper vegetables. Awesome. No rice. Awesome. Spent the entire night sitting around the table, drinking and chatting.
27 Nov – we had to get up early. The two girls, the young englishman, and myself had arranged for a jeep tour for today. To be picked up at 9am. So, we all get up earlier than is healthy. And wait. And wait. So I have a cerveza. Then, jeep arrives. Is actually a ute, with the back covered in over a couple of bench seats. Two of the people already in the ute are friends of the english girl. And we set off. Two slightly older more sensible guys in the cab of the ute, and six young happy-go-lucky folk sitting in the back. Then, one chap decides to climb out onto the roof. Good idea – as the view was much better. The rest of the trip is spent with two or three people sitting on the roof at any one time. (Had a roofrack type system). We visit several archeological sites – all very very similar to those at the Park just outside San Agustin. Except those that had had their statues stolen to create one of the walks at the Park – leaving just the tombs. Which are fairly interesting – once or twice. So – lots of tombs and statues. Then lunch. Then a couple of waterfalls – including the tallest waterfall in Colombia. Then back to San Agustin, sunburnt and tired and with a rather sore arse from the rather uncomfortable roof. Back to hostel for a well earnt cerveza. Then, into town to say farewell to the girls and english boy. Then – supermarket – and back to hostel to cook my own dinner. Long time since I have done that. And drink some horrible horrible colombian wine.
That’s all for now. Next update – hopefully I’ve caught a bus to Bogota, and then another one to somewhere north of there.