Today we visited the Columbia National Museum. The museum is located in a former prison.
They had many interesting exhibits including about the history of Columbia and the recent peace process.
After touring the museum we had coffee in the courtyard.
For our last dinner in South America we had a wonderful meal on the top floor of a nearby hotel. The restaurant is called Carpaccio. First we shared a fried mozzarella appetizer then we had squash soup with blue cheese. For the main course we had pasta and for desert chocolate. It was all wonderful.
It is Saturday night and there were two big parties at nearby tables. One was a Birthday. We assumed it was for this princess
The other party was bigger and more formal. It was an elegant quincenera. In the picture below you can see the family getting ready to make their entrance.
There was also live music. The people watching was a lot of fun.
Tomorrow we fly to Panama.
Today we took a cab into central Bogotá and visited El Museo de Oro ( the museum of Gold). The museum presents the history of metallurgy throughout the world and has exhibits of metal work from all the different regions of Columbia. The descriptions are in English and Spanish and we also had an English audio guide. It was fascinating and there were some beautiful pieces.
Next we walked around the streets a bit.
And then finally went to the Emerald Museum. They mine a lot of emeralds in Columbia. Although we couldn’t take pictures the young guide was very good. The museum is on the 23rd floor of a bank building.
This morning we were on the bus from Neiva to Bogotá by 7:30. It was a double decker very comfortable bus and we were in Bogotá at 1:00.
In Bogotá in the cab to the hotel the first thing the driver asked us was about Trump. Then for the whole drive he talked non stop about how wonderful and smart Trump is. He said among lots of other things how immigrants are the problem. Just look at the Venezuelans!! It was surreal!
We are staying at a great hotel in a very upscale part of Bogotá. The altitude here is 8,440 feet so the temperature is much cooler than Neiva. It all feels very European. We walked to dinner at a great restaurant nearby. Both of us had steak.
And a warm brownie and ice cream for desert.
Today we traveled from San Augustin to Neiva about a third of the way to Bogota. As we went lower it got hotter and hotter and we didn’t have air conditioning. By the time we got to Nieva it was 101 and humid. At least our hotel is air conditioned.
For dinner we had a good dinner in a Cuban restaurant.
Tonight is our last night at El Monastario, our wonderful hotel near San Augustin. Duke and I discussed over dinner and agreed that this is one of the best places we have ever stayed. This is Duke at breakfast.
Today we toured a coffee farm. It is about a mile down the road from El Monastario.
First we walked through the field and watched as Hector picked some coffee.
Then he showed us how he processed and dried the coffee.
Then he husked and roasted the coffee.
Finally he ground it and brewed some for us to drink.
It tasted great and we are bringing some home.
Today we walked a mile and a half over to the entrance to the park. About half way through our walk it started to rain and we got a bit wet.
From there we caught the bus into San Augustin. We changed money, walked around exploring, and stopped for coffee.
When we first arrived in town we found the bank where the daughter of the family Duke stayed with in 1980 works. The bank was closed for lunch so we came back at two. When we got back we found our way to the manager’s office. There were several clerks outside the office and a lot of people waiting their turns.
Duke stuck his head into her office. When she was done with her customer Duke went in and showed her the pictures from 1980. She was very happy to see them and they talked for about five minutes. She insisted we go show the pictures to her mother who lives about four blocks away.
We found the house. Her sisters and mother were there and we had fun laughing and talking. It was all quite an experience.
When we were done we caught a taxi back to our hotel.
Dinner at the hotel. My appetizer was topped with a quail egg.
For our main courses we had chicken and risotto.
Today was a day of rest. Our big accomplishment was changing hotels. We liked Hostal Huaka-Yo a lot. It is where we spent the last three nights. The people were helpful and friendly. The setting was peaceful and beautiful and our room was spacious and comfortable.
When Duke was making reservations for our stay in San Augustin he couldn’t decide between two hotels, Hostal Huaka-yo and Monasterio de San Augustin. So he booked three nights at the first and two nights at the second.
Today we packed up and moved. Monasterio is beautiful and what a view.
Our room is quite luxurious although there is no wifi in the room.
Our dinner was fabulous. A gourmet feast!
Today we went for a horseback ride! We rode about eight and a half miles and visited three Archaeological sites that are more remote than the sites we visited yesterday!! It was wonderful!
It is so beautiful here, lush with wonderful views and lots of interesting flowers, crops and birds. Our guide Boliva was great and his horses were nice and calm and well behaved.
Every morning we’ve been here we have heard a loud raucous bird in the trees. If I understood our guide correctly it is a chachalaca bird. Some people even have them as pets. At one of our stops we saw one up close.
Our first stop on our ride was Purutal – La Pelota. An ancient burial site that was excavated in 1984. That’s four years after Duke was here. The statues are colored. As I understand it these are the only statues that they have found that are colored. They are located exactly as they were found.
Our second stop was at La Chiquita. We left the horses at the top and climbed down to a spectacular overlook of the Magdalena River Canyon and two waterfalls. There were carvings overlooking the canyon too.
Our third stop was El Tablón where the statues were excavated by a German archaeologist in the early 1900s. They were sent to Germany and then later repatriated. Next it was back to our hotel.
I got to practice my Spanish a lot today talking to our guide. At one point I asked what he uses for coffee when he drinks coffee at home. He said he has a few coffee bushes. He picks the coffee, roasts it, grinds it, and brews it all right before he drinks it. Our hotel told us they do the same thing for our breakfast coffee. The coffee is delicious.
Coincidentally the wife of our guide is the niece of the man Duke stayed with in 1980. The girl in the picture below from 1980 is a bank manager today!
The ride today was so tranquil and beautiful. We saw fewer than twenty other tourists!
It started raining hard after we got back to our hotel. I wanted comfort food for dinner so I had delicious Pasta carbonara and Duke had lasagne.
I haven’t been on a horse since I was in college. I’m sore and tired tonight but it was a wonderful day!
This morning we walked up to the entrance of the San Augustin Archaeological Park and then spent a few hours exploring the park. There are several groups of statues and burial sites at this location and a museum. There also other parts of the park with a lot more that we didn’t see today. We will explore them in the coming days.
First we visited the excellent museum which has several smaller pieces. Many of them had been stolen over the years and then in the last few years recovered. One of the things the descriptions stressed is that over the last century archaeologists have proposed many theories about the people who created these statues but they are all just theories. They know very little about these people. They do know that the statues were created over more than 2000 years prior to the Spanish arrival.
When Duke was here in 1980 he was on horseback tour of several sites with a guide. They came upon a man plowing with a horse drawn stick plow. He had just turned up a small statue very similar to the ones above.
After the museum we walked through the jungle to six other sites where the carvings and burial sites are still in place.
After a rest at our hotel we went into the town of San Augustin and explored a bit.
We had an excellent dinner at a small restaurant about half way between town and our hotel. We started with fried plantains with garlic.
Then we each had steak fixed in different ways. Unfortunately you can’t really see Duke in this picture but you get the idea.
I have a lot of pictures which aren’t posted in the blog. I upload them to a iCloud shared photo stream. Let me know if you would like to be added as a viewer of the photo stream.
We rode two different vans today. The first one took us from Mocoa to Pitalito. The second one took us to San Agustin and then to our hotel in San Agustin Archaeological Park. In the second van I was squished in the middle in back but at least all the roads were paved and the rides weren’t too long.
Our hotel, Hostal Huaka – Yo is in a beautiful setting and we have a big comfortable room.
Before it got dark we went out for a walk on some of the back roads and saw lots of chickens,
And beautiful flowers.
We ate dinner at the hotel. It was the best meal we have had since Quito. Duke’s Fried plantains were especially tasty. The chicken and beef were wonderful too. We are the only ones staying here tonight and we were the only ones in the restaurant.
San Augustine Archaeological Park has The largest group of religious monuments and megalithic sculptures in South America. Duke has great memories of being here almost forty years ago before it was a UNESCO world heritage site. Tomorrow we explore.