San Agustin is a small shabby town that seems a bit dusty. We find a cute little vegetarian restaurant in town, recommended by our hotel. Oh yeah, I’m trying to be vegetarian now. After lunch we make the dirt road 3 km trek to Finca El Cielo, which is well worth the price and drive. This will be our most expensive hotel on the trip for $70/night. The rooms are built out of bamboo and the flowers, hammocks and dogs are just perfect!
Our first afternoon, we head to El Estrecho, which literally means “The Tight.” What it really is, is the narrowest pass of the Magdalena River. I went into the trip to this Estrecho thinking it was going to be some dinky bridge with tons of Colombians posing for photo opps, looking at a little stream through a patch of grass. What I saw was an actual tourist attraction!
I immediately noticed that they spent all the funding on the sign alerting people that they have indeed reached the tight spot and that’s why their were no directions on the dirt road that began to increasingly feel like it led to no where. As I hobbled down the staircase alongside the mountain, I began dreading the way back up because I am such a viejita.
This Estrecha was not thatttt tight and it had a pretty strong current turning the river around the corner. Across the river, on top of a small mountain forcing the right hand curve, you could see a small statue of the Virgin Mary, practically blessing all of the water that passed through. It was really quite beautiful.
Then I was ready for my mid-afternoon arepa and coffee. I truly tried to find good souvenirs, but there was just nothing, the whole trip. So I just kept investing in food. The cheesy arepas were amazing and since the coffee was so yummy, I also bought more to take home! I could barely wait for my arepa to cool enough to eat. It was so hot, that an elderly (very elderly) woman sitting next to us mumbled “Esto esta mas caliente que negro en baile…” Which definitely would not be ok to say in the U.S. or in a lot of places, but Colombia just does not seem to have those kinds of stigmas here.
We ended the night getting some shitty pizza and going to bed early in hopes of horseback riding through the archeological sites near our finca. Sure enough, while we were eating delicious breakfast, I noticed the pretty horses and they had been arranged for us! Nino for me and Princesa for DaVinci 🙂
It was my first time and I was definitely a little nervous, but Nino was just so cute! I was confident he would understand my Valley Girl English and broken Spanish. Our tour guide was quiet, but very knowledgeable about the statues we visited, DaVinci translating the things I didn’t understand. We learned that people were buried with all of their belongings, food and all in order to have enough to survive in the afterlife. We learned that women offered their children to the witch doctor of the village in order to bring good weather for the year.
As we rode from site to site, I was so consumed with helping keep flies off of Nino’s neck, that I couldn’t keep up with the bugs eating away at my ankles. Returning to the farm, I showered off Nino’s smell and knew my legs would be in trouble once the bug bite venom seeped into my body. So we went a got a nice vegetarian lunch, in which I insisted on wrapping up the last third of our rice to bring back for a snack. DaVinci and most non-Americans think our concept of doggy bags are ridiculous.
Next stop was the true blue archeological park with all the statues collected from the region, but as we pulled up DaVinci convinced me we needed to go back to charge our phones and nap since we were so full of vegetables. So back we went, with the intention of returning at 4 when the sun went down a little.
Shocker! (An expression DaVinci has learned from me) At 4, the park closed. So we never got to see the hundreds of statues. This is what I know about them from the interwebs. This was laughable however, considering neither of us were that excited about it and we had already had such a great morning. So we spent the early evening people watching at a cute little bistro that served us yummy wine and uncooked mushrooms with garlic. That night I got cranky and anxious about god knows what and we went to bed early, shocker!
We both knew that the next day was going to be our longest drive yet, so we scheduled our breakfast bright and early. 6:30 did not make me a happy girl, but DaVinci promised to wake me gently with the sunrise rays of sunshine.