Tags

We drive through the Colombian countryside alongside the Magdalena River in a tiny cab. When we met Hugo and his taxi at 9 am we were glad we decided to leave our big suitcases at the hotel in Neiva and travel with our carry-ons for our two-day trip to San Agustin. Other than the occasional swerve when we go over a bump or hit a pothole we are doing well, seeing rural sights as we make our way toward the archaeological sites of the San Agustin region. We were doubly happy that we hired Hugo to drive when his car was struck by a branch about a half hour out of Neiva. He stopped and negotiated with the trimmers from the electric company and we continued on our way.

Crops of all kinds are out the car windows. Colombia grows fruit, vegetables, ornamental plants and cut flowers. In addition to pineapple, banana, watermelon and papaya at breakfast, we tried juice of lulo (ugh) and cholupa (yum). Passing through Campoalegre we saw cacao beans drying on the sidewalk. There are lots of combination businesses, like photocopies and coffee, or parking and coffee.

Here’s a reason to eat less beef and drink more coffee.

Cattle pasture

Shade grown coffee

The drive to San Agustin takes five hours. We arrived tired and had trouble finding the hotel, which is a lovely hacienda with a small chapel that gives it the name Hotel Monasterio. It is about a half mile past the end of the paved road and has no sign so when we found it we were delighted, though it was more isolated than we expected. No one was available to drive us anywhere. We renegotiated our agreement with Hugo so that he drove us to see the sites as well as the coming and going from Neiva. Before unpacking or rest, we found that we could follow a tour group to one of the other sites, Alto de los Idolos. Alto de los Idolos was about a half hour drive away, again further than we imagined, but well worth it. In a manicured park, we visit huge carved stone monuments and tombs. These were built by some of the earliest chieftains in the Americas, during the early Formative period, as early as 1000 BC. Large mounds were built to cover stone tombs, and carved figures guarded the entrances.

We were at Alto de los Idolos just before sunset, and the setting sun lit the park in green and gold.We had dinner at the hotel and it was delicious, with the best-tasting broccoli I have ever eaten in a restaurant.

There were fantastic birds around the hotel, red tanagers, yellow and green birds, hummingbirds that are dark blue and purple. We ate breakfast and looked out over the landscape. The mist in the distance rises off the Rio Magdalena, the huge main artery of the region. It did not rain on us despite the low clouds.The San Agustin archaeological park encompasses four groups of stone monuments and tombs and an area of stream bed that was carved into channels and pools decorated with carved figures, the Fuente de Lavapatos. The monuments have focused themes. Each figure has large eyes, broad nose, fangs, claws and sometimes wears a helmet. The hands/claws are most often held close together and may be holding a captive (?), two fish (?), two staves, a cup, an arrow, a pencil (?), an ice cream cone (?). There is also “The Thinker,” Colombia style.

 

The entire circuit takes at least a half day to cover. Overcast weather made for a comfortable visit, and there were places to stop for coffee and souvenir shopping. I had a fresh ginger, lime, mint tea that was delicious. We finished off with a selfie.

We got back on the road again in the early afternoon for the five hour return trip to Neiva. For another view of visiting San Agustin, see this article in the NYT from last week. We seem to have visited at the same time!

No Longer Forbidden (Colombia) NYT 7/15/18

Our flight on to Barranquilla was the next morning at 10 am, so there was no time for a longer stay in Neiva and the San Agustin area, though there are many more things to see. We did happen to be on layover in Bogota during the final moments of the Colombia-England game of the World Cup. Everyone was watching until the bitter end, when Colombia lost on the final penalty kick.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The San Agustin archaeological park encompasses four groups of stone monuments and tombs and an area of streambed that was carved into channels and pools decorated with carved figures. The monuments have a limited range of themes. The figures have large eyes, broad nose, fangs, claws and sometimes wear a helmet. The hands/claws are most often held close together and may be holding a captive (?), two fish (?), two staves, a cup, an arrow, a pencil (?), an ice cream cone (?). There is also “The Thinker” Colombia style.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The entire circuit takes at least a half day to cover. Overcast weather made for a comfortable visit, and there were places to stop for coffee and souvenir shopping. I had a fresh ginger, lime, mint tea that was delicious. We finished off with a selfie.

We got back on the road again in the early afternoon for the five hour return trip to Neiva. Our flight on to Barranquilla was the next morning at 10 am, there was no time for a longer stay in the San Agustin area, though there are many more things to see. We did happen to be on layover in Bogota during the final moments of the Colombia-England game of the World Cup. Everyone was watching until the bitter end, when Colombia lost on the final penalty kick.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It just happened to be sunset, lighting the park in green and gold.

 

We had dinner at the hotel and it was delicious, with the best-tasting broccoli I have ever eaten in a restaurant. We were still in a panic about how we could have chosen a hotel so far from our destination. We double checked the map and discovered our error. We are indeed only 15 min from the San Agustin archaeological park. It was an awful few hours, but now our visit tomorrow will be reasonable.

There are fantastic birds around the hotel, red tanagers, yellow and green birds, hummingbirds that are dark blue and purple. We have breakfast and look out over the landscape. The mist in the distance is rising off the Rio Magdalena, the huge main artery of the region. So far it has not rained on us despite the low clouds.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The San Agustin archaeological park encompasses four groups of stone monuments and tombs and an area of streambed that was carved into channels and pools decorated with carved figures. The monuments have a limited range of themes. The figures have large eyes, broad nose, fangs, claws and sometimes wear a helmet. The hands/claws are most often held close together and may be holding a captive (?), two fish (?), two staves, a cup, an arrow, a pencil (?), an ice cream cone (?). There is also “The Thinker” Colombia style.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The entire circuit takes at least a half day to cover. Overcast weather made for a comfortable visit, and there were places to stop for coffee and souvenir shopping. I had a fresh ginger, lime, mint tea that was delicious. We finished off with a selfie.

We got back on the road again in the early afternoon for the five hour return trip to Neiva. Our flight on to Barranquilla was the next morning at 10 am, there was no time for a longer stay in the San Agustin area, though there are many more things to see. We did happen to be on layover in Bogota during the final moments of the Colombia-England game of the World Cup. Everyone was watching until the bitter end, when Colombia lost on the final penalty kick.