Bored, so Back To Quito

Plan was fulfilled, managed to get to the bus station. Caught an overnight bus to Medellin. Arriving in the former Murder Capital of THE WORLD!!! on 17 Dec.  But, the north americans didn’t like Pablo Escobar so much, so ended up killing him, and the Medellin Cartel broke up. It is now very nice, and safe. But the ‘Media’ always forgets to report the good news. Got to Medellin, and caught a taxi to the Black Sheep hostel. First time I heard of it, I guessed it was owned by a kiwi. But I’d heard of Casa Kiwi first. Then… heard that Casa Kiwi was owned and run by a naughty americano. (Joke for those who intiendo espanol.) So, I go to Black Sheep. The english guy I met the first night at San Agustin is there, and apparently good friends with the kiwi manager. Respect for kiwi manager drops. He’s friends with the inglis, for jeebers’ sake. But, I guess if there’s one thing this trip has taught me, is that there’s nice NeoZelandese, Norte Americanos, Inglis, and even Arsetralians. Anyway… got to the hostel, after the taxi driver got rather lost. Waited for a room to become available, and spent the time going to the supermarket to buy a bottle of Aotearoa sauvignon blanc, some colombian blue cheese, colombian duck pate, and a french loaf. Also, a sandwich for lunch. The expensive stuff is for dinner. The wine was bloody 20 seppo dollares.

Back to hostel, and drunk beer while waiting for my bed to become available. A little early in the day, perhaps, but I had to teach the kiwi chap what it means to be from Aotearoa.  Eventually got a bed, then headed into the central city.  Walked around for a while, checking out some chap’s sculptures.  Famous Colombian artist – specialty is satirical fatties.  Big sculptures of fat people, fat cats, fat dogs, etc.  Then, started towards some modern new-age blah-blah park.  Designed for people to walk around barefeet, over shallow ponds, sand pools, etc.  Stopped for a beer at a very dodgy bar.  Drunk guy tried to talk to me.  My espanol is reasonable by now, but I couldn’t understand a word he said.  Ended up telling him I didn’t understand, again and again.  Got annoyed, and left.  Got halfway to the park, couldn’t be bothered crossing the road – and turned around to get back on the subway to the hostel.  My enthusiasm for being a tourist really is completely gone.

So – back to the hostel, and decided I’ve completely had enough of travelling.  Make the plan to get back to Quito immediately.  To my new Finn McCool’s family.  So, evening is spent impatiently waiting for the next day, so I can leave.  Drinking cerveza, and eventually drinking my Sav Blanc, while eating cheese and pate – and watching Bruce Willis fighting the good fight against those dastardly terrorists.

So, mix of beer and wine caused a small hangover when I awake for 18 Dec.   Drink some cervezas, and book a flight to ingerlund.  27th of December I leave South America, and 28th December, I arrive in the Queen’s island.  More cerveza, finish my cheese and pate, and then off to the bus station.  Leaving the kiwi hostel owner still pondering the distribution of my bill.  Again – the cerveza was more than the accommodation.  This time – internet also, as I’d spent quite some time uploading photos.  Bus station, and get on a bus.  That’s what bus stations are for.

18 hours or so later, it’s the 19 Dec, and I’m at Ipiales for the fourth time.  Colectivo to the border, and met the Alejandro at the border.  Alejandro is a crazy colombian guy I met in Quito – in the same dorm room.  Get over the border without being searched by the corrupt policemen.  Didn’t have any forgotten bags of coca leaves this time anyway.  I think.  Another colectivo to Tulcan.  And discover the restaurant at the bus station is being renovated.  I’d been pinning my hopes on today’s meal being there.  No such luck.  Have an empanada & coffee instead, and get onto another bus.  Back to Quito.

So, a little over 30 hours after leaving Medellin, I get to Quito.  Taxi to the hostel.  Just in time for the free ron&coke night.  I avoid it.  Get myself a private room, with bathroom this time.  Novelty.  Get into my suit, and off to Finn McCool’s.  With four bottles of booze I bought at the duty-free store on the border.  I pretty much bought everything which said “Irish”, and a bottle of champagne.  The irish stuff as gifts for the bar, and champagne for jeebersmas.  Must remember to buy some icecream.  Get to Finn’s, and I can’t see Lee or Ursula, and there’s some new ginga girl behind the bar.  I’m apprehensive.  Then, I see Paula – the ‘glassie’.  Squeals and hugs.  Then she runs over to the pool table, to tell Lee & Ursula.  They were here, just hiding.  More squeals and hugs.  Then, the regulars.  Squeals and hugs.  And so on for the next hour or so, as more of the old regulars arrive.  It’s nice to be home.

And even the new ginga bargirl turns out to be quite nice.  Very nice in fact – I think I’m in love with her.  Platonically of course.  Scottish girl, and worthy of Finn’s.  Anyway – the night goes on.  And on.  7 or 8 of us for the shut-in.  Playing pool for money.  Hanging up a hammock.  Slightly too many people for the hammock, and suddenly a big chunk of the concrete pillar comes out.  The bit that contained the hook for the hammock.  So, hammock and people on ground.  Some time later, Lee falls over.  Knocks his head.  Decides not to get up.  Sleeps underneath the foosball table for a few hours.  The rest of us chat.  Eventually, it’s myself, scottish Helen, and Ross left – until it’s time for opening again.

And thus 20 Dec begins.  And how it begins, it continues. Lee & Ursula take the day off – good on them.  Spent most of the night trying to convince Ursula that they should both take a week off.  Anyway, I don’t take the day off.  Kiwis aren’t slackers.  Full day of drinking cerveza, playing pool, and a bit of bartending.  Gets to closing time again.  It’s Alison’s last night before heading back to seppo-land for 10 days.  And Rafael’s birthday.  Alison is barstaff, and Rafael is a foosball player.  So, again a few of us for the shut-in.  Alison leaves for the airport at 5am.  Arguments and silly deeds and silly words from/between Ross and Merav.  Ross – irish barman.  Or bar-boy, as I like to call him when I’m trying to annoy him.  Merav – israeli part-owner of the bar.  Alison had given me the keys to lock up, which I eventually do.  But Ross decides he’s taking the keys.  Despite Ali asking me to take care of them, Ross’s current mood insists that I acquiesce, to prevent further problems.  And so, after 30 hours of travel, and 33 hours of Finn McCools, I return to the hostel for bed.

Next update – I’m guessing, but pretty sure I’ll just copy-and-paste the stuff I wrote last time I was in Quito.

Cartagena de Indias

Morning of 14 Dec, the arsetralia and ingerlund boys are still going.  After a rather eventful night involving the police, from all accounts.  From what I could gather from the repeated, yet slurred, stories – they’d bought some illegal substances, got caught with them, ended up bribing the police.  The aussie who was taken on the back of a motorcycle into Santa Marta, in order to get the cash for the bribe, started his trip with arms and legs akimbo on the back of the bike.  Not quite “playing it cool”, as the lonely planet advises travellers to deal with the police.  Also, the inglis did a conga dance outside the police station.  The other aussie was in a cell.  Afterwards, the police insisted on taking them to a local nightclub for some drinks.

Anyway – they were still going strong in the morning – although getting harder to understand.  Still – the poms not quite doing so well as the aussies.  Surprise.  I decided I’d better get out of here before I decide to teach them a lesson.  So, check out, and a txi to the bus terminal.  Next bus to Cartagena, por favor.  Just behind a young japanese girl.  We wait for our bus.  Having just bought tickets for the 11am bus, at 10 minutes past 11.  Half an hour later – the japanese girl is getting antsy.  Starts asking people every 10 minutes or so where the bus is.  I figure she hasn’t been in Colombia too long.  Bus does turn up, eventually, and we get on.

The wheels on the bus went round and round.  And we arrived in Cartagena de Indias.  Bus to town, not really knowing where the bus goes.  Eventually figure I’ve gone well past where I probably should have exited the bus.  Get off a while later instead.  Across the road from a place called “Drinking Bar”.  So, I drink in the bar.  Then, have dinner at the chinese restaurant next door.  Expensive shrimps and broccoli.  But, I haven’t eaten broccoli in a while.  And despite not liking broccoli particularly, it’s good to eat it again.  Washed down with more cerveza, of course.

And then I figure it’s time to swallow the pride, and get a taxi.  So – taxi to a hostel.  In the red light district, of course.  Hostel is full, so have to walk to another one.  Immediately accosted by chap wanting to sell me the white stuff.  Doesn’t really believe me when I tell him I don’t want any, or the green stuff either – so the act of being best friends is put on several times over the next days every time he sees me.  But, I get to a hotel/hostel – check in, and actually get a decently priced room – all to myself, with fan and double bed.  Best deal I’ve had since Quito.  Ahhhh…. Quito, how I miss you Finn McCools.

But – no irish pubs with a block or two of my hotel here.  So – an evening at a cafe bordering a small plaza.  Cervezas, while watching children play soccer, and the local ladies posing for photographs with each other.

Wake up for the 15 Dec – ready to explore Cartagena.  And do so.  It’s got a big wall around it.  Walk on the wall for a while.  Apparently they didn’t like the inglis (Francis Drake, specifically) burning down the town, and holding it for ransom, and what-not.  So – a big wall.  Got the idea from the chinese, I reckon, but weren’t quite crazy enough to build a wall along an entire border.  Just around the town.  Still pretty cool.  But, having lost nearly all my enthusiasm and energy for being a tourist – got bored pretty quickly.  Ate some bloody good steak.  First time for a long long time.  Bloody good, and good’n’bloody.  More wandering around the Old City – which is also pretty cool.  All old.  And a city, I guess.  But, unlike most of Colombia, lots of people trying to sell you stuff, or anything else to get money.  First time I’ve seen it on this scale since Peru, I think.  Most of Colombia really has been qute tranquillo – which I took for granted until being reminded of it today.  So – in general, Cartagena is very similar to Cuzco, just to a lesser extent.  It would be an awesome place to wander around, if you got rid of all the hawkers.  Luckily in Cartagena, the hawkers and others are in certain areas – and the entire Old City is good for walking around.  So it’s just occasional moments of the “I’ve already said ‘no’ several times – now …” feeling.  Also – everything well overpriced.  Walk outside the Old City walls, and prices fall drastically.  Although still too high – am looking forward to getting out of Cartagena completely – and seeing proper Colombian prices again.

Anyway – had dinner in the dodgier district I’m staying in.  A few cervezas, and the garfield movie on the television.  (Punctuation nerds – I don’t use capitalisation when something doesn’t deserve it.)  And when the nice lady suggested I should have the bill rather than another delicious ice cold cerveza – moved back to my position on the small plaza from last night, until once again I became too tired to justify ordering more cerveza.

So – 16 Dec started with waking up earlier than is natural, again.  I’m getting sick of knowing what 8am is like.  Breakfast, a bit of electronics shopping – which involved flirting with 12 year old girls.  Electronics shopping, for you nerds, was an adaptor for a 2.5mm jack to a 3.5mm.  My new Titan MP3 player uses a 2.5mm earphone jack, which I didn’t realise at the time.  So, I’ve bought this useful adaptor for the inevitable breakage of current earphones.  And broke my Titan a couple of hours later.

But – today was dedicated to seeing a couple of the things which the guidebook recommended other than the big wall thing.  So – the Palace of the Inquisition.  Torture instruments.  Much better than the Lima one.  Better torture stuff – although most or all of it was replicas, I believe.  But – allowed to pretend to be the victim on most of it.  I believe.  Well – nobody was around, and nobody stopped me.  The museum also had a second floor with displays regarding the history of Cartagena.  Boooorrrrriiiiing.

Cold shower (all showers on the coast are cold – but one is not unhappy about this.  Hot weather & women)  Then – more aimless wandering.  Overpriced, but very very good ceviche for early dinner.  Shrimps with white wine, mango & maracuya marinade.  I’m describing it only so that I will remember it when I get to ingerlund, and want to attempt a replication.

Then, found a cheap dodgy cafe near my hotel.  Cervezas.  Dodgy inglis bloke talked to me for a while.  Told me I was a better man than he, after I sympathised with his lady problems, but mentioned I’d been faithful to a girlfriend while in this continent of beautiful ladies.  Also congratulated me on finding the place with cheapest cervezas in town after very little time.  I reminded him I was a Kiwi.  He left, and I continued with cheap cervezas.  Until internet time – and some babbling on this here website, possibly a little too soon after the cheap cervezas.

This evening – the plan is an overnight bus to Medellin.  Home of Pablo Escobar.  Apparently much improved since being the murder capital of the world back in the 80’s.

Ciudad Perdida & Parque Tayrona

So – 04-09 Dec was walkin’.  To Ciudad Perdida (The Lost City), and back.  Two or three hour jeep ride to a small village, where I had a couple of beers.  Also had one when we stopped for some diesel.  Reputation was sorted before we even started walking.  Then – walkin’.  With two french guys, one german girl, and an israeli guy.  The guy who turned out to be our guide looked more like a chef.  I hoped he was our cook, anyway.  But – the size of his gut lied.  I didn’t really hold out much hope for him actually surviving the walk.

But, he did survive the walk, as did we all.  Took three days to get to the actual city.  Lots of wading through rivers, avoiding poisonous snakes, meeting indigenous people, staying at an army camp, etc.  Arrived at Ciudad Perdida itself, after a long walk up lots and lots of very steep slippery stairs, at about lunchtime on the third day.  A very very cold shower, and then spent the afternoon and evening doing nothing but killing mosquitos, playing cards, and drinking a bit of whiskey and wine.  Previous camps had cerveza available.  But not the camp at the City itself.  Luckily, I had brought whiskey, and the french had brought wine.

The fourth day, we had a tour around the city.  All the explanations from our guide were in espanol, so I didn’t understand too much of it.  But just walking around it was cool.  I think they’ve only uncovered 10% of it, or something.  But that is good – as it is really only the foundations of where buildings used to stand.  All uncovered – it wouldn’t be too impressive, unless they rebuilt the houses.  But as it is now, you stand in a circular foundation made of stone – and there are half a dozen pathways leading from it into dense jungle.  Most of them just seeming to lead to nowhere – because of the density of the jungle – but two or three which have been cleared away, leading to more circles.  And the centre of the city, with a stone throne.  Which rhymes.  So I figured the rhyme must be a signal that I should sit on the throne naked. 

Anyway, the second night up at the city, we drank more whiskey, and played more cards.  And discovered that our guide had actually brought our blankets up here.  We just hadn’t found them last night.  So our freezing all night was not necessary.  Oh well.  Walked back to the army camp on the fifth day for lunch, and muchas cervezas.  Then onwards to the place we stayed at the first night.  Longest day of walking, and it had been raining – so was very very muddy.

Last day, returned to the village.  Swam fully clothed on the way back, to get rid of the mud.  Very nearly jumped in with camera still in pocket.  Spent my very little remaining cash on cerveza.  And then back to Taganga.  The frenchies and I then went to a seafood restaurant in Santa Marta – highly recommended by the hostel owner.  Was indeed good – and led to a late night of chatting and cerveza back at the hostel.

10 Dec – not feeling too bad after the six day hike.  Wasn’t that difficult though – and I think most reports I’d read about it beforehand must have been written by elderly unfit seppo women wearing hawaian shirts.  But, I did very little today anyway.  Lay in a hammock, reading an awful awful book.  Drinking good good cerveza.  Fish for lunch with the israeli chap from the trek.  And another day gone.

Which made me promise to actually get back to doing stuff on 11 Dec.  So, procrastinated for a while, but eventually packed my stuff, and caught the colectivo to Santa Marta.  Stocked up on carrots, apples, mandarins, cash, garlic, whiskey and sunglasses – and then headed off to the Tayrona national park.  Beaches, they reckon.  Pristine, they reckon.  Got there, and got my whiskey confiscated.  Dumb.  Walked for 40 minutes, and got to the first beach/campsite – Arrecifes.  Dangerous for swimming, they reckon – so the plan was to have a couple of cervezas, then continue to the third beach/second campsite.  But, started chatting with three colombian guys, and then playing cards with them.  And it got a little late to be walking in the jungle – so stayed there for a night.

12 Dec – an apple for breakfast, and then off walkin’ again.  Second beach which was supposed to be nice for swimming (was actually called La Piscina – which I think means something like swimming pool, or something to do with swimming anyway) turned out to be rather average.  So – I pressed on to the third beach, which had the second campsite.  El Cabo – nice setting, but again – the beach was rather disappointing for somebody who has been to Northland.  Pretty little bay though.  I guess.  Met an english couple who’d briefly joined us the previous night – they were looking for some friends.  Had a couple of cervezas, and then finally went for a swim.  One or two hours later – I’m already sunburnt, bored, and wishing I hadn’t already booked and paid for a hammock.  Afternoon trying to think of something to do.  Evening – watch the english boyfriend dig himself deeper and deeper into a hole that he’d made when he caused him and girlfriend to miss the restaurant’s dinner hours – on his girlfriends birthday.  So – birthday dinner consisted of canned tuna on crackers.  But he kept joking about it, as she got angrier and angrier.  It was rather reminiscent of myself on the last day of the Inca Trail.  But – she seemed to gradually forget about it – whenever he wasn’t reminding her – and eventually we all played frisbee on the beach for a while.  Glowing frisbee – in the dark.  Cool.

13 Dec – got up early, and started a-walkin’ again.  Ate the last of my healthy foodstuffs.  Got back to Arrecifes, and had a couple of beers.  Then – onwards to the park entrance – another couple of beers, and onto a bus back to Santa Marta.  Bought some souvenir-type stuff, and checked out a museum.  This museum had a model of Ciudad Perdida – as it would have looked, back in the day.  So – one can see the full extent of it.  Fairly impressive, I guess.

Back to Taganga, and checked back into the hostel.  Table of drunk inglis and arsetralian guys.  Had been going for a couple of days, by the sounds of it.  Sat with them for a while, but couldn’t handle listening to them after a while.  The arsetralians were holding themselves together fairly well – but the inglis.  Well, you know.  Managed to quickly once again rack up a tab of cervezas that was higher than my accommodation.  But managed to get a fairly early night.

Join in next time, when Spidey says: “Kruse goes to Cartagena”.


Sorry, Pen and Mum.  I did actually write this a week ago – and thought it had posted.  Apparently not.  And only a little bit was saved as a draft – so here goes again…

30 Nov – got up this morning, and got myself a beer.  And breakfast.  Then, some more cervezas and sitting in the sun.  Finally checked out, and walked into town.  Stupid hot sunshine and stupid big pack and stupid long walk.  Then, some internet, and watch the Black Caps thrash South Africa.  Lunch – with some decent barbequed meat.  At last.   A couple of potatoes as the vegetable side of things.  More cerveza.  Eventually get a colectivo to Tunja.  Buy a bus ticket to Santa Marta, but discover I’m low on cash.  My Quito spending habits seem to have stuck with me.  Quick taxi to the centro, get some cash, and back to bus station.  Buy bus ticket, and then drink cerveza while waiting.  Bus to Bucaramanga.

So, arrive at Bucuramanga at 3am 01 Dec.  Bus to Santa Marta leaves at 3am.  But I have to wait until 7am.  Dumb.  Try to figure out a way of sleeping at the bus station without having my stuff nicked.  Then, soon after 4 – the lady comes to find me, and tells me I can get on a bus at 4:30.  Sweet.  Dodgy arrangement of getting on a bus to somewhere else – which takes me to where a bus is waiting on the side of the street.  All to avoid the bus station taxes/fees, I think.  Anyway – got myself a bus to Santa Marta.

Arrive in aforementioned Santa Marta – and undecided on where to stay.  Research at internet cafe.  Still undecided.  Decide to go to the first place the taxi driver assumes I want to go.  Casa de Felipe, in Taganga – a small village just outside of Santa Marta proper.  With a beach which isn’t too polluted.  Book into the hostel – and walk around the village.  Which takes about 5 minutes.  Fresh seafood for dinner.  Sweet.

02 Dec starts with a swim in the Caribbean.  And then not much else.  Drinking cerveza in a hammock while reading a book, with a couple of breaks to eat seafood.

03 Dec – similar to 02 Dec.  But I also accomplish something.  Book a tour to the Lost City – Ciudad Perdida.  Go to dinner with some folks from the hostel, and return to the hostel well past a sensible bedtime for somebody starting a trek tomorrow.  And also with far too many cervezas under the belt to be sensible for the same trek.

I’ll write about the actual trek next time.  When I’ve got more energy.  But – I’m back safe and sound.  And considering another trip into places where there is no internet or other such things.  This time – for beaches.

Villa de Leyva

28 Nov – Spent all day preparing to leave San Agustin.  Ate bad cold leftovers, packed bags, went into town, did the internet and lunch things.  Then – back to the hostel, and lazed in a hammock with cerveza for several hours – including a bit of a siesta in the sun.  Then, it started to rain just as it was getting near to time for me to walk down to the bus stop.  Paid my bill – over 50% of which was cerveza, and decided to walk down before the rain got heavier.  Got into a colectivo to Pitalito.  Pitalito had an actual bus station.  So, bought a ticket to Bogota, ate some dinner, and – of course – drank some cervezas while waiting for the bus.  Got onto the bus, and found amusement in how long it took people to find their seats, and the utter chaos involved – despite people having allocated seats.  Every single time, people start looking confused when they get to seat numbers 10/11 or so, despite it soon becoming obvious that their seat number is 25.  “Why isn’t 25 between 11 and 12?” their faces seem to say.  Every time there’s at least two people.  Depending on my mood, I either want to laugh out loud, or shake them.  Anyway – slept on the bus to Bogota, despite the little shit next to me assuming that his elbow had seat number 22, as well as his own ticket for 21.

So, early in the morning of 29 Nov, I arrive in Bogota.  Not wanting to spend time in Bogota again, I immediately buy a ticket for Villa de Leyva.  Which turns out to be leaving in 10 minutes.  So – off I go again.  But I discover, in Tunja, that the bus only goes as far as Tunja.  From there, I have to get another colectivo.  No problem – colectivo to Villa de Leyva.  Arrive in Villa de Leyva, and walk to the main plaza.  Find an internet cafe to do some research on places to stay.  Discover the place I was intending, has closed down.  Jot down notes on others.  Then, I run into Arizonian Matt – one of the chaps from the San Agustin jeep tour.  Sit down and have a beer with him, and some food.  Starving – I scoff down a big messy burger in about 30 seconds.  He’s staying at another tranquil place outside of town.  So, he leads me there.  Another cool place with gardens, hammocks, beer in the fridge, etc.  But not as stinking-dirty-hippie-ish as the place in San Agustin.  Have a beer to recover from the walk there.  Matt had told me it was 7 minutes, with a bit of uphill at the end.  It was actually about 15 minutes, the entire thing uphill.  Bastard.  More cerveza, and a bit of sitting in the sun, a small siesta, and then more hammock time.  With book and MP3 player.  Sweet.  Into town, dinner, a couple of cervezas while watching a Phil Collins concert on DVD, and then back to the hostel.  Chat for a while with Matt and another seppo.  More cervezas.  And a nice early night.

And that’s two fairly uneventful days.  Lots of relaxing, and lots of travelling.  I’m looking forward to getting to Santa Marta, so I can do the Lost City trek – and see something big and impressive again.  Next update should be from Santa Marta, as even though Villa de Leyva is pretty and nice and tranquil – there’s not much to do.  Nature walks.  Pah.  I got nature at home.  So, currently watching NZ thrash the yarpies.  Then, hopefully my guess on when buses leave from Tanja to Santa Marta is correct.

San Agustin

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.