We arrived in San Agustin after another overnight journey feeling reasonably refreshed.The coaches in Colombia, although quite expensive, are really luxurious and perfectly comfortable places to spend a night.The seats are like thrones with an inconceivable amount of legroom, and they recline almost fully so we've been managing to sleep pretty soundly, albeit wrapped up in several layers of clothes and a blanket - the air-conditioning is invariably jammed on full blast regardless of the outside temperature.Travelling at night is also pretty safe now in Colombia; it might have been unthinkable 10 years ago.
San Agustin itself is a fairly unremarkable little town, but the surrounding hills contain several unique archaeological sites containing hundreds of freestanding anthropomorphic and zoomorphic stone statues.The figures date from as early as 33 B.C. right up to the 14th Century, but the culture appears to have inexplicably vanished before the Spanish arrived.The statues were made to honour the dead, and many are, or were, associated with graves.The graves of the most important members of society were typically adorned with a Stonehenge-style stone facade held up by three statues.However, strangely, after going to all that trouble, they would then bury the whole thing out of sight under an artificial hill.Archaeologists continue to find more graves like this buried underground.The culture practised a ritual of double burial, whereby the bodies of those buried would be allowed to decompose in the ground before being exhumed once again, the bones cremated, and the ashes buried again in an urn.They are still lots of these urns lying around in situ.
On the second day in San Agustin we went horse-riding for the afternoon, which was great fun.Our horses were brothers, only one year apart, and ferociously competitive.Sarah's horse, Lucio, was older and a fraction stronger and had little to prove, whereas my horse, Ray (!), was clearly the underdog and would absolutely insist on keeping just ahead of his older brother, even if it meant being constantly knackered.This compulsive rivalry meant that whenever we'd approach a hill the brothers would engage in a brief staring competition before suddenly darting off as fast as they could to see who could gallop to the top of the hill first.
We met some nice people at San Agustin; the English couple in the photos - Claire and Ian - an older French couple, a Swiss couple and a German guy.We stayed up late (despite the early start to Popayan the next morning) drinking rum and some weird moonshine stuff that the Swiss couple had with them.Urrg.
We stopped in Popayan for a night on our way to Ecuador.Whilst it's not worth a whole blog it would seem rude not to mention it since it was quite a nice place; a proper Colombian town and a bustling one at that, but still very pretty.
Next, onwards, all the way to Quito in one big leap.