Wrapping up in Colombia - time to leave, but not yet...

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August 24th 2010
Published: September 4th 2010
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Empanadas de PipiyanEmpanadas de PipiyanEmpanadas de Pipiyan

Tiny empanadas served with a spicy peanut sause. A speciality from Popayan and definitely one of our favorite streetfoods in Colombia!
Amazing, we have already spent over 2 months in this country, more than we spent in China! Yes, we like it here. However, soon we are leaving, but till then:

The number 1 archeological site of Colombia - San Agustin

So from Cali airport we quickly went back to the hostel where we left quite some stuff of ours before the dive trip. Wrapped up and took a bus to Popayan, reducing this way the time we had to spend on the bumpy road next day towards San Agustin. In Popayan the hostel owner was very happy to see us again. Next morning we were lucky enough to get a direct bus to San Agustin. Okay, 5 hours on unpaved roads, but in a beautiful environment. Our road went on the ridges of the West and Middle Cordillerias. Colombia has 3 mountain ranges in a North to South direction, all very high with beautiful views. We got dropped off at the crossing outside San Agustin, which is 5 km far from the village. But no worries, the bus drivers are closely connected to the local travel agents...., so in 5 minutes we got a private lift
Panela lovePanela lovePanela love

Almost like the spaghetti scene in the Disney animation Lady and the Tramp. Our interpretation has been performed with dehydrated sugar cane juice.
to one of the travel agents: No strings attached. There we picked up some maps and recommendations and bought a trip for next day. This is the way to do it there. Prices were all right, so even if it was a scam, did not feel bad.

We walked up the hill to the mountain house of a very friendly family. Here we could use the whole back yard to pitch up our tent. And our hostess welcomed us with juice and coffee and she kept this habit for 3 days till we left. Here we also had our private outdoor BBQ, just for ourselves and a sweet cow... we were the only guests.

Next morning a jeep picked us up and we joined a Luxembourgish lady (!) and a French-Israeli guy. Yes, Martine is the first person from Luxembourg who we met on our 11-month trip, so we were extra happy. We had a nice day trip, visited some remote sites with carved tomb stones and in some places we could also climb down into excavated tombs. Very interesting, although some figures on the tomb stones looked like constipated ladies... On the way we also stopped at
El Estrecho de Rio MagdalenaEl Estrecho de Rio MagdalenaEl Estrecho de Rio Magdalena

It looks like jumpable, but you´d better not!
"Estrecho de Rio Magdalena". This is one of the main rivers in Colombia, and the interesting thing about the spot we stopped at is here the river is only 2.2 meters wide, running in a canyon with water depth of more than 20 meters! Swimming: not allowed. Later on we also stopped at 2 nice waterfalls (one of them over 400 meters tall and as such the 3rd tallest one in South America) and visited a sugar cane processing site. Here we could try fresh cane juice and the famous panela, which is basically a huge block of caramel made by boiling sugar cane juice until it becomes solid. Very tasty, better than sugar.

Next day we went for a horse riding trip, where we could visit 4 other archeological sites. Nice nice, but after a while we had enough. Anyways, we also went for the archeological park in the afternoon, so we can proudly say that we had seen everything in San Agustin.

Beers with a boom!

The two evenings we spent here we went for playing TEJO. This is a really funny local game. There is a big flat pile of wet mud on
A tomb in San AgustinA tomb in San AgustinA tomb in San Agustin

5 meters into the deep...
one end of a lane with a metal ring stuck in the middle. You put little papers that contain gun powder on the ring. From a distance of approx. 18 meters you have to throw a metal disk and the mission is to hit the metal ring and as a result make the gun powder explode: Boom! Funny game, even funnier after some beers... We even thought about importing it to Luxembourg but then Martine reminded us that the gun powder just would not work over there... no way to get a permit for it. Pity...

Yawn: more archeological sites - Tierradentro

OK, we are not archeologists or even close to that, but as we were right in the neighbourhood and Tierradentro is the number 2 site of this country, we went for it. Our French friend and an other Greek guy joined us on a trip that took us 9 hours to arrive to this super remote tourist attraction. The difference compared to San Agustin is that instead of thomb stones there are underground tombs here with colorful wall paintings. Some tombs are so big that they could have also served as temples I guess. Again,
One of the many @ San AgustinOne of the many @ San AgustinOne of the many @ San Agustin

The guardian of a tomb. A bit weathered, but still in pretty good condition knowing its age of cca. 5000 years (pffff, abbreviations are annoying with an accountant girl sitting next to you..... but yes my grammar sucks).
no information about the people who dug these tombs, looks like the knowledge about pre-Colombian civilisations just got completely lost - sad. The only thing that is sure, is that these people at that time put more efforts in their afterlife accommodation than for the present life. No remains have been found of any settlements...

So we got to Tierradentro, went into the first guest house and looked for dinner. It was Saturday evening, but as it looks this does not matter there. Nobody in the streets, nothing really open, but finally we found a small food/lodge place where the lady undertook to cook up a small dinner for us within an hour. So we went to spend the time with some beers (surprisingly we found a tiny shop!) till then.

Next morning Chris felt really bad, shivering, fever, so he was sentenced to bed and stayed in the guest house with the mission of recovery. I joined the 2 guys for a day hike to see the local tombs. Well, after approx. 15 we kinda lost interest, but we did the loop almost all the way. We got back to the guest house around 5 pm. Again,
Fuente de LavapatasFuente de LavapatasFuente de Lavapatas

Carved in the rocky bed of a stream is a labyrinth of ducts and small terraced pool decorated with serpents, lizards and human figures. See the small guys on the right?
empty streets, sick Chris, so we just went for dinner and that was it.

Neiva, the place not known by foreign tourists

Next morning we decided to move, but skip our original plan of visiting the Tatacoa Desert. So our mission was to get out of Tierradentro (took 2 hours in the morning to get a lift out of the village) and on the way towards Bogota. After 5 hours of travel we got to Neiva, an unknown place for Lonely Planet, but still a regional capital. Did not spend too much time to look for a hotel, as Chris felt pretty tired, so just took one with a proper mattress on the bed and went for food. That´s it... and Chris slept like a baby.

Back in Bogota

In Bogota we just had one mission: Meet Jorge, the dive instructor from our Malpelo trip in order to arrange the final paperwork for our advanced certificates (!) and to have the biggest burgers we've eaten so far... (nice farewell lunch with the guy). We also got tickets to Leticia, which is in the most South-Eastern point of Colombia, pretty deep in the

One of the many statues, but this one appears to be smiling!
Amazon region. No roads to Leticia, just planes. But the good thing was that before the flight finally we could visit Cerro de Monserrate, a mountain top that towers over Bogota. Our Bogotan friends wondered why we didn't go there before, but in the end it was really worth it!!! Just the X-mas lights were a bit awkward. They were just installing them and it's only August??? So we did our stuff in Bogota and then flew to Leticia, on our way to leave Colombia...

Additional photos below
Photos: 23, Displayed: 23


Taking hostage???Taking hostage???
Taking hostage???

See the small girl with pony tails?
Big ChiefBig Chief
Big Chief

Found this one just outside the main park.
La ChaquiraLa Chaquira
La Chaquira

Divinities carved in the mountain face with a stunning view of the Rio Magdalena gorge.
Our home in San AgustinOur home in San Agustin
Our home in San Agustin

Our private camping, which occasionally had to be shared with a cow and a turkey...

See the white triangles? These go BOOM!!!! At least in case you throw your iron disc on it. Pretty difficult....
And the fun increases...And the fun increases...
And the fun increases...

.. with the number of beers and BOOMS!!!!
Tierradentro tombsTierradentro tombs
Tierradentro tombs

Measuring 2m to 7m in diameters these tombs have been scooped out from soft vulcanic rock.The domes, pilars are adorned with red and black geometric motifs.
Tierradentro tombsTierradentro tombs
Tierradentro tombs

Little is known about the people who made these tombs. But it is obvious they dedicated much more efforts to the afterlife than to their present life...
Tierradentro tombsTierradentro tombs
Tierradentro tombs

Guess that these tombs are more impressive than the carvings from San Agustin
Tierradentro tombsTierradentro tombs
Tierradentro tombs

This was actually the best preserved tomb we've vistited. The colors and details were sooooo nice.

Pretty steep down, on average 5 to 7 meters deep.
With the complements of the Coca-Cola company With the complements of the Coca-Cola company
With the complements of the Coca-Cola company

Yes, the water in the plastic bag is a Coca-Cola product....
Tierradentro viewsTierradentro views
Tierradentro views

Quiz time: Count the layers!
Cerro de MonserrateCerro de Monserrate
Cerro de Monserrate

Cerro de Monserrate looks over Bogota gracefully.

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