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Colombia Closes

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We spend a few days in San Agustin, camping in front of Hospedaje Andino (on the corner in front of the very expensive Camping San Agustin) for $1.50 each per day. It rains continuously, so we spend a lot of time huddled under a small cabaña staying warm and dry. The main attractions here are huge stone idols, carved by a culture dating from the 6th to 14th centuries AD. We try to get into the Parque Arqueológico with our entrance bracelets from Tierradentro but we are quickly told that won’t do and have to pay another $8 – Nice try. The idols are huge and some have crazy amounts of details, so we spend a couple of hours wandering around the whole park. We finish with a wander through the on-site museum and finish up a little underwhelmed for our money after Tierradentro.

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Grand idol at San Agustin

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Another idol at San Agustin

While staying in town I get two more flat tires repaired and have a great time chatting to the shop guys in Spanish. They are very interested in my Jeep and where I have driven from and are genuinely curious about other countries and want to know what it was like through Central America. It gets really hilarious when a bunch of school children show up and want me to help them with their English homework. Their English is a little below the level of my Spanish so I have a great time explaining past tense and helping them through various exercises. For an unknown reason almost every English student I’ve come across has been very shy to actually speak in English and these guys are no exception. For all my prodding and encouragement, I barely get a “Hello” in reply.

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Jeep / Land Rover hybrid

We wave goodbye to my hitchhiking backpacker and move south towards the border. We’ve been told the road through the mountains to Pasto is one of the worst in Colombia, and it doesn’t disappoint. Extremely bumpy, rutted, narrow and windy, we spend five hours driving 120 kms with more than a few close encounters with huge trucks and busses. Often we have to reverse back out of the way when we come face to face around a blind curve.

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"In winter it's preferable to drive during the day"

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The crazy road widing into the mountanis

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Crossing a river in the mountains of Colombia

After camping another rainy night by Laguna de la Cocha we move further south to Santuario de las Lajas, where an immense church has been built in a beautiful canyon. It’s a very peaceful place and we find a huge parking lot just above to camp for the night.

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Laguna De La Cocha

Colombia has been noticeably bigger than the countries I’ve passed through recently and I’ve really enjoyed moving from North to South. The price of gas has varied quite a lot, usually between $3.20 and $3.80 a gallon and significantly cheaper near the Venezuelan and Ecuadorian borders. There have been many police and military checkpoints, which have all been friendly and gone smoothly. At one I’m asked to take every single item out of the Jeep while they search, a process that takes over an hour, but ends in friendly handshakes and wishes of good luck for the future.
Car insurance is mandatory here and the $40 I paid for two months is well worth it as I’m asked for it time and time again.

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The valley of Santuario De Las Lajas

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Santuario De Las Lajas

My time in Colombia has been fantastic, and nothing at all like the stereotype would have you think. I’ve constantly met the happiest, friendliest people of my entire journey in Colombia and my only regret is that I only asked for 30 days on my visa, which means it’s time to leave. I won’t make that mistake again.
Just like the marketing brochure says:

Colombia: The only danger is you’ll never want to leave

-Dan

9 Responses

  1. Bridget says:

    Hi Dan,
    Wow I am so impressed by your trek through Colombia. It looks so beautiful and lush. Nothing like I could have imagined. I would be intrested to know more about the sanctuary in your last photo posted…Santuario De Las Lajas. It looks Midieval and I was wondering if you had an opportunity to step inside the walls and wander around it’s perimeter?
    Keep well, keep safe.
    ~bridget~

    • Dan says:

      Bridget – of yeah, for sure. We walked all the way around the outside then went into the museum that is inside/underneath. It’s a huge old building with tons of history. The museum showed it in all sorts of levels of construction over the years.
      I’m sure wikipedia has a lot to say about it.

  2. Avery says:

    What?!!! You mean you survived Colombia? I thought the narco bad guys and the guerillas would have had you on a skewer by now.

    Isn’t it great when you don’t accept other peoples perceptions and experience things first hand? Keep at it D, I am living the dream vicariously through you until I can get back out there.

    • Dan says:

      So true Avery. Many, many people were scared when I told them I was going to Colombia and of course none of them had ever been there. It turned out to be one of the best countries of the whole trip. It really is a matter of getting out there any trying it for yourself.

  3. O'Shea 12566 says:

    I almost hopped on a flight to join up with you. Great pics! I agree with the statement that one should try things first hand and not rely on other people’s perception-to a point. I still would not go hanging out at 2am on Martin Luther King Blvd in Brooklyn. Never been there, but I think I will take other people’s perception on that one.

    • Dan says:

      Right, exactly. I think it’s important to get the information from people that actually know what they are talking about, not just think they do.
      Next time someone tells you how bad a place is (say Mexico or Colombia) as them when was the last time they were there.

  4. Juan D. says:

    Hey Dan,
    I really enjoyed all your posts about Colombia and gotta say they make me jealous since now you know a lot of the places I always wanted to go.
    I would also like to thank you about the kind words about my country I really appreciate you getting rid of all the prejudices.
    Good luck and keep safe.

    • Dan says:

      Hey Juan, I just call it like I see it – no bias here. It’s simply the truth that Colombia is a beautiful country full of friendly people :)

  5. Kyle says:

    Nice write up! It goes back to what we’re told about judging a book by it’s cover or listening to a critic and taking it for gospel. Santuario De Las Lajas is an awesome sight in the pictures can’t imagine the true beauty of it in real time. I look up the places you go to in Wikipedia and learn more about our world till I can see it for myself. Keep groovin!

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