Published: October 18th 2010July 20th 2010
After a third weekend spent in Banos, I bid a sad farewell to Salasaca and left with Anna and Adam to go to Colombia. When we arrived in Quito, Adam informed us that he'd left his passport back in Salasaca so back he went. He joined us later and we set off the next morning with the aim of getting as far as possible towards San Agustin. We only made it as far as Pasto, though, and stopped in a rather nice hostel for the night (Koala Inn). Pasto doesn't have a great reputation, but the few people we met there seemed very friendly and there was a big party going on in the main square to celebrate the anniversary of Colombia's independence. Adter a delicious breakfast of pancake and fruit the next morning, we got a fancy bus to Popayan and stayed a night there. Popayan seemed like a nice place but I'm afraid to say that by this time I was not feeling so inspired by colonial cities where the buildings are all white. The last leg of this ridiculously long journey to San Agustin was a crazy bus journey the next day which lasted hours and hours and
hours and went along the bumpiest route ever. It was impossible to sleep. We ended up drinking our leftover rum as going bonkers ourselves seemed the best way to deal with it. Did I say it was the last leg? Actually, we got dropped off at Pitalito and had to get a jeep to San Agustin. Round here, it's common for people to hang on to the back of the jeep but I guess the police aren't keen as our driver stopped to let those standing/hanging on to walk past a police checkpoint and then a mile or so down the road, they got back on again.
We arrived at a lovely little hostel called El Jardin with a few people we'd met in Popayan who'd travelled with us, and we were all pretty hungry so we were directed towards a very tasty pizza place called Pizzamania. This gorgeous little shop is run by a French lady and the pizzas are "made with love". It was all rather Chocolat. The next morning, one of our fellow travellers had plans for us, but we shook her off and wandered around the town before ringing our hostel of choice, El Finca.
To our delight they had a tipi for us, so we bought a bunch of fruit and veg at the market and caught a camioneta up the hill. It had been raining so the steep hill was pretty slippery and it wouldn't have been unreasonable for our driver to let us out at the bottom but he was determined to make it as he'd seen another taxi coming down that had obviously made it up to begin with. He wasn't about to lose the challenge! Our tipi was more amazing than we'd imagined. It had a fireplace in the middle. We three got terribly excited about a ray of light coming into the tipi, then about the fire, and then cooked a big meal accompanied by wine and beer. I'd had some news about my stepdad's lovely friend Jim passing away so we made a toast to him over the fire.
I'd really wanted to see the big stone statues at San Agustin, having been attracted by a picture in a Lonely Planet book and the next day we went on a riding trip to see some of them. We didn't have riding hats, of course, and the horses
weren't some kind of docile ponytrekking horses, oh no. We were fair cantering and galloping at points. I was pretty scared that I would slide around the horse and fall off but get my foot caught in the stirrup and then be trampled. It was thrilling though. I was just trying to remember everything my mum ever taught me about riding when I was a little girl. All I could remember was that thing about keeping an (imaginary or not) piece of paper between your knee and the horse. That evening we got to know Tashi and Ellie, an English couple who had been working in Bogota and were travelling about it before going home. We got on very well and the five of us ended up spending the next week together.
The next day, Sunday, we went for a walk together to find El Cinco, a nearby waterfall that T&E had heard about that wasn't in the guide books. They'd heard it was 30 mins away from town and then left. This was really some understatement. About 2 hours later, after one trespass, several questionings of passersby and one local (American) artist, we found sign pointing to it.
A farmer there backed up the sign by pointing in that direction too and then disappeared. He reappeared later on from a different direction after we'd walked down a very slippery hill for some time and offered us all freshly picked bananas. They were pretty tasty. It was just unfortunate for Adam that he was peeing at the moment the banana was offered. The farmer disappeared again, only to reappear mysteriously at the river after we'd slid our way down (flip flops were not appropriate footwear). We all jumped in and scrambled out a few times, and left the farmer to make our way a little bit further on to El Cinco. The farmer wished us well and invited us to pop in for a smoke on the way back. So we found El Cinco, so named because there are five levels of waterfall and oohed and aahed a bit. Anna and Adam got in it. A couple of musicians were there enjoying the atmosphere too. I would have taken a picture of them but they didn't want us too. We went home along a proper road rather than trying to scramble up the muddy slope.
The rest of
the time at San AGustin was spent drinking milkshakes in the market, eating pizza in pizzamania, eating and making homemade arepas, drinking beer and playing Racing Demons. I'd started to dream Racing Demons by this point. On the Tuesday night, we caught the night bus with Tashi and Elli to Armenia, headed for Salento in the coffee region.
There are more photos below