I don’t know if it was the travel gods telling me to get out of Bogotá or sheer luck, but I somehow managed to have nearly every single class canceled within a few days. So, after getting pissed off that I wasn’t making any money, I looked at the bright side and realized this is the perfect opportunity to head to the south of Colombia and check out the historical site of San Agustin.
Just a few years ago, the south of Colombia was ruled by the FARC. President Uribe (ex-president of Colombia) decided to open a can of kick ass, and waalaa… it was finally safe enough for me to head there. But… I didn’t want to take any chances. Before heading out, I proudly threw on my “Please don’t kidnap me, my parents have no money t-shirt.” I can confidently say that because of the t-shirt, I ran into no problems. And in case you are wondering, the t-shirt will soon be available in the Travel to Move Store. And… if you buy 20, I’ll give you one free as well as an autographed picture of yours truly… me. I know… to good to be true.
I took the night bus down there, which gave me the opportunity to savor the days there. One thing that is completely different down here as compared to the states is the comfort level in travel. In the States, travel companies (think airlines) don’t try to intentionally piss you off. Of course, the end up succeeding when they decide to only offer a snack size bag of peanuts on the eight hour flight, but that’s beside the point. In Colombia, the guys who run the travel get together on a weekly basis and decide what to do to piss people off, and they usually succeed. What they finally decided on was mess around with the temperature of the bus. They turned the thermostat to Arctic chill, and man did it work. I threw on every single piece of clothing I had, but still was shivering throughout the entire journey. At one point I was so cold that I found myself cuddling up with my seat mate, who just happened to also be a man. Ya… don’t ask…
Arriving in San Agustin, I took off immediately to the national park. Roaming through the park, I saw beautifully carved statues that numbered in the hundreds. No one is really sure of the history of this place, but it is suspected to be a couple thousand years old. The cool part is that it represents histories from all around the world. There are statues with Chinese culture, emblems from Iran, carvings that replicate Mexico, and even ones that came from the Pacific. One theory is that this place was somewhere that artists from all around the world converged upon in order to have a pow-wow. So… over two thousand years ago, they were crossing the Pacific or Atlantic in a row boat. And we thought Columbus was a bad ass.
After the park, it hit me…. depression that is. I found myself in one of the most beautiful parts of Colombia and listening to something truly astonishing… silence. Due to the fact that I live in Bogotá, I haven’t heard “silence” since arriving. And man did it freak me out! After a day or so, I finally got used to it. But… that first day was quite interesting.
I spent my next day deep into a book. I tried making it out of the hostel, but it just didn’t happen (except for meals). If there’s a hammock, beautiful weather, a great book, and a cold beer waiting, I’m the happiest kid alive.
My last day was spent on a tour of the surrounding area of San Agustin. I was the youngest person in my group by at least fifty years, but hey, I still had a good time with some old farts. In between the stops at waterfalls and other national parks, I held on for dear life as the jeep bounced around in the back country roads. It was kind of interesting to think that only five years ago, the roads we were driving on were controlled by the guerrillas.
I finished the tour just in time to run back to my hotel, grab my bags, and catch the night bus back to Bogotá. Once again, I bared temperatures of the Arctic magnitude, but somehow, survived. My three days of silence came to an end when I attempted to cross the street from the bus station in Bogotá. Right then, a taxi driver came hurling around the corner at full speed, honking the horn, and holding up his middle finger. Man, it’s good to be back.