It was nice sleeping in a bed and waking up, and being able to have a warm shower. I had better make the most of today as there are six days riding before the next rest day, with four days riding until we cross the border into Ecuador.
Today a group of us had organized to go to St Agustin archaeological park. The park opened in 1936 and is constantly being improved. It is based on the site where statues from previous inhabitants of this land have been found. There is no known name for these people so they are referred to as the early culture of San Agustin. There are two schools of thought:
1. That it was one people who evolved over a few thousand years to following different practices and customs (such as how they bury their dead)
2. That there were 3 separate groups of people during this time (approximately 3,500 BC to 100 AD).
At some stage they have organized an elaborate irrigation system for the hillside to grow crops.
The earliest inhabitants had the practice of burying their dead under the floor in the middle of their houses. Further on the rich, or high standing, had tombs with statues depicting various significant animals and things such as water and people guarding them. There was one bit of hillside that over 700 years they flattened – bit different to now where it is a project we undertake over a long weekend. The earliest evidence uncovered at this stage dates back to 3,500 BC.
The walk around the park took about 3 hours, and we stopped at a cafe where one of the riders – Erwin – asked for a drink of cane sugar, and we got to see how they feed it through a flattening machine about 4 to 5 times, and it produces enough for a glass. It is a greeny colour and tastes really sweet, but is meant to be very good for rehydration.
We caught a bus back down to the town and four of us stopped at a restaurant for lunch. We got the special of the day, which was a really nice meat based soup with beans and carrots in it, plus I think spinach as was quite dark for cabbage. Also a main of chicken which is sliced so thinly they must have a special machine to do it (as this is common way of presenting cooked chicken here), rice, and my favourite – fried plantain (not), some type of peas, and chunks of potato with avocado (which sounds pretty strange but was actually very nice).
Then I went off into the town to get a haircut. I was pretty nervous about this but I can’t go 6 months without a cut. And having done it, I don’t have to worry about it again for a few months. It turned out ok, and was the grand sum of 6,000 pesos (approximately $3 NZD). The last time my hair was cut for 3 dollars I was probably about 2.
On the way back to the hotel I stopped to try something I had seen for sale in the village. Not sure what you would call it. The lady making it was slapping it round and round on a stick, it looked like it had golden syrup or molasses in it. You got a small pottle of it, after it had been dipped in brown or raw sugar. I’m still not sure what it was, it was thick and sticky and sweet. I am not a convert, but the locals were lining up for it.
Then I went back to the hotel to check on the instructions for tomorrow, and to sort my bike and bags.
A group of us went to a restaurant in town, and ordered the special of the day again, which this time was a thick soup, and chicken, rice and beans. After that I went to the supermarket to get more water.
I got back to the hotel and tried to get onto the wifi – it was ok to send an email but not any photos.
Tomorrow is a 161 kilometre ride, with 2,250 climb, so lunch truck to lunch for me 😀