|It was a sunny and warm day when I left Popayán for San Agustin at 11am. The journey to San Agustín is only 140kms but takes 6 hours, the roads really are that bad. We stopped after 4 hours for a "lunch" break. The food was pretty terrible, I never tought that you could get chicken wrong but there is always an exception to the rule. I think it had originally been cooked a couple of weeks ago and then re-fried just to throw you off the scent. It didn't work. I thought I was going to get a bad bum after that lunch.
2 hours later, the bus arrived at a fork in the road. Time for me to get dropped off 5kms away from where I was supposed to be. Luckily, a shared taxi roared around the corner heading for San Agustín, full with 5 people and the driver. I don't know how we, or more specifically I, managed to fit into that taxi. It was about the size of a Ford Focus! A quarter of an hour later we made it to the centre of the village. When I asked the taxi driver about taking me to the hostal I'd been told about, he recommended that I take a 4 wheel drive taxi. I was starting to wonder to what I was in for. The next driver charged 5,000 pesos (quite a bit of money since it only cost 13,000 to travel 6 hours) to take me 5 minutes to the other side of town! To be fair the road, or lack of it was making this guy a rich man.
The hostal was a bit of a disappointment, no hot water. I forgot to mention that on the way from Popayán going through the mountains, the weather had changed completely. We had gone from summer to winter. I'm really not sure how the weather systems work here. I thought that being further south and not as high as Bogotá, it would be warmer, WRONG. Overcast and drizzly, felt more like November than August :o( Good job I still had some warm clothes. The taxi river then piped up about another place, Casa de Nelly, owned by a french lady who had been in Colombia for over 20 years. Plenty of hot water there, lovely gardens and plenty of very nice rooms to choose from.... As this place was on a hill on the other side of town from the first hostal, the taxi driver was getting even richer... an additional 5,000 pesos...I didn't know how to say "bloody cheek", I will find out though!
Went horse riding again. I really like it though not sure I'm ready to join the country set, I'll leave that to Madonna. The countryside is really beautiful. I only knew about some pre-colombian ruins and sculptures which had made the village famous. There are very few visitors here as the area was caught up the war between FARC and the government. It's safe now so even Colombians are coming to learn about their heritage. The views are truly amazing, I couldn't believe how people had managed to build their houses on the sides of precarious mountains. What was even more intriguing was the farmers had not built terracing in their fields. There were some steep slopes being used to grow coffee, bananas, citrus fruits, beans, potatoes and tree tomatoes (tried them in Ecuador, yuk). I have no idea how the farmers manage it, it was incredible.
Quick note - Keira, the dog from the hostal followed me everywhere. On the horse riding trip she came along and even accompanied me through the archaelogical park until she got distracted by a group of kids and took off. I did another trip around the countryside but this time a bit further afield. She followed me on the back of a moped to the internet café about a mile away. She then had a kip waiting for me to finish. I got in a jeep and headed off, I forgot about her. Happily on both occasions, when I got back to the hostal she was there, having another kip.