Ugly town, wicked history!

San Augustin Travel Blog

 › entry 21 of 71 › view all entries
We arrived yesterday on the 6am bus from Popayan. It was so bumpy and dusty. The road is actually only 160km from Popayan to San Augustin, but takes 5 to 6 hours due to it being unpaved and windy.

We booked into El Maco, which is about 1km out of town and walked into town to book a jeep tour as we had been stopped by a guide once off the bus. Couldn't find him anywhere so we went to the tourism office and asked if we could book - no luck there, although they did give us a free map of the area. They told us to go down the road and book with a guy mentioned in our guidebook called Luis.
No luck there either as they were closed. The other tourism office was also closed, and the bus ticket office was also closed. For a town aching to regain it's previous tourism of 20 years ago it is barely trying. We had a late lunch at a place next to Donde Richard which was an open restaurant. We had steak, and it was the BEST steak I have ever had. I will proudly say that up until this point of course, we will see if that changes once we reach Argentina! A fantastic meal only for about $14,000 ($9NZD). We ended up booking a jeep tour for $25,000 pesos which would take us all around and was about 7 hours in total. Seemed pretty good to us!

Although, next day when we got there, the other people had cancelled which means it was off.
We decided to head to the actual park instead anyway. The main park is large, and we were soon approached by a guide with really good English. His name was Jerry. Not his real name, but everyone apparently called him Jerry, after Jerry Springer as he was rather humorous - of course this was all according to him!

He was very intelligent, and we learnt so much with him guiding us. For example, the statues date from 3300BC.  At this time, the civilisation knew how to conduct brain operations which were shown from skulls recovered from the sites. These skulls showed that a piece of the skull had been removed and then replaced, having them lived at least 6 years afterwards as the skull had fused together again. It was just amazing. Also, the stone statues had characteristics from Asia and Africa.
For example some statues had asian eyes, or eyes depicted in statues from Eqypt (such as eagle eyes), also some statues were depicted in very similar dress from India and Egypt. Animals were also carved and depicted tigers, elephants and gorillas - all animals which are not found in South America. They don't know too much about the actual people that lived there, and how exactly they depicted different continents. Jerry's explaination was that these people from different continents came to be buried or to die in San Augustin. I'm not too sure if I believe in that, although it is possible they came to live and therefore died in the area. Another theory seems to be that they transported themselves on another dimension to these other continents, although Jerry explained that this didn't make sense as bodies were found with artifacts from other continents as bodies were buried with their belongings and other things such as food and water for the next life.
It was really interesting - we highly suggest getting a guide as there is so much information it blows your mind! Jerry charged us $30,000 pesos, of which we gave $40,000 pesos in total in the end as the tour was so indepth. We also talked about insects, the situation in Colombia at the moment and other Colombian traditions. The tour took about 3 hours or so.

We also made an appointment to meet him later that night as Nathan was going to visit a Sharman. For those that don't know what a Sharman is, they are like a witch doctor, and are highly regarded in the community. They are spiritual and also medicinal. Anyway, Jerry had told us that every 4 years he goes and a potion which he drinks cleans his system out. Anyway, it all sounded like a very interesting experience so we decided to go.
This one is so funny to us. It is a statue of a mother giving their child to be sacrificed.
Of course, Nathan to participate and myself to watch! No way was I going to, more so because it makes you throw up and have the runs (and not to mention hallucinations also)!

Anyway, we got there and the Sharman has about 6 gorgeous children. They all live in this little house and were so well behaved. I watched the TV most of the time with them. The Sharman put on his head dress, necklaces and his wand thing made of some sort of tree. In short, Nathan had to drink some liquid which he describes as tasting like wood. He had no react, so over one hour later the Sharman repeated the process and he had to drink another one. Jerry said it was really unusual and that the Sharman had said Nathan was very strong. Soon after the second lot Nathan started feeling ill, much to my delight simply because this was what is suppose to happen, and we better be getting our moneys worth!! A wee while after we left for El Maco, the Sharman said Nathan should be fine.
Park{s pet turtle.
How wrong was he! Nathan spewed his guts out before getting to the hostel and it continued once we were there. He also got the shakes and had hallucinations. All which he describes now as pretty cool. He was hallucinating that he was a snake, that butterflies were flying out of his body etc. Pretty out of it. He feels fantastic though today. All for $70,000 pesos and what an experience!!
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This one is so funny to us. It is …
This one is so funny to us. It is…
Park{s pet turtle.
Park{s pet turtle.
They sacrificed people here to cle…
They sacrificed people here to cl…
African nose.
African nose.
Our cool room, all made of bamboo!
Our cool room, all made of bamboo!
Baxter!
Baxter!
The middle statue is holding their…
The middle statue is holding thei…
Our cool room again.
Our cool room again.
Asian eyes.
Asian eyes.
Egyptian-style eyes
Egyptian-style eyes
Simon the falcon of the park.
Simon the falcon of the park.
Shamans head dress and necklaces.
Shamans head dress and necklaces.
Showing the heart and insides.
Showing the heart and insides.
San Augustin
photo by: timbo