The sun rose over the palms at Casa De Nelly and started to peak through the timber property, waking us up from a peaceful sleep. New bird calls could be heard and so too other travellers moving about. Walking out onto the balcony, the plants have been doused with rain overnight and a lady sweeps flower petals from the verandah.
It was a no rush day to explore the area, in particular the archaeological park. Coffee was poured and surprisingly Sarah agreed to a game of chess, the pieces made of nuts and bolts. We both know how to move the pieces but have no strategy other than the move in hand. My ambition dashed as Sarah moved to a prime position and I was checked.. Mate! Well done!
What archaeology means to me…
A while ago I could probably have said ‘ not a whole lot’, however travel has certainly opened my eyes to alot of amazing sights. I’ve met some great people who take interest in archaeological dicoveries, processes and history. It could be far too easy to switch off, but I have cherished these moments to learn and in turn take greater notice of my surroundings, ponder their creation and the meanings they might have intended. Archaeology isn’t on my number one to do list, but it can be exciting if you really take it and consider their beginnings.
We took the country back roads that passed by a number of properties. There were all types of fruit trees including guava and plentiful amounts of coffee trees all neatly and evenly rowed. The locals were all to happy to say hello with a smile as we passed by.
The Archaeological Park costs 25000COP which allows two days to cover the vast area of land and museum. The museum provides great information about the region and the significance around the statues and tombs found. I took great advantage of the English texts.
History – they refer to the area as a Colombian Massif, a region of absolute and great wealth for which attracted communities to live and exploit. There are snowy peaks, volcanoes, valleys, natural passages across mountain ranges, and over 300 lakes and five important Colombian rivers start here, including the Magdalena that runs to the north coast.
Significance – there is ongoing thought about these 2000 year old statues and tombs as there was no written accounts from back then. Maybe they are related to myths and rituals? Taking a closer look the carvings intertwine animal features such as eagle’s eyes or jaguar’s teeth. The academics are still trying to comprehend everyday life and social organisation. Why so much effort though? Maybe they protect over life or maybe they provide a passage to the next life… I love the ongoing thoughts about what they possibly mean.
Preservation – The statues and burial mounds were found long before archaeological interest and surveys. Farmers would dig them up and families or communities may have used them for display, applying their own meaning of them or they were looted for their jewels. Therefore a possibility remains that history is lost. There is also the ongoing preservation which is evident within the park but elsewhere like La Chaquira, it remains subjected to the elements, unprotected and deteriorating. Only the trained eye can see a number of fading inscriptions and carvings.
After checking out every statue and tomb in the park we headed down the road past more coffee plantations before climbing a very steep hill to reach Finca El Maco. It was here that they would have contact with Pacho the horse guide. Pacho arrived and with his soft voice he explained his tour, the price and patiently worked through our basic Spanish. It was all Sarah, she did amazing and before we knew it we had organised a private horse tour of 4 hours of 4 sites for 140,000cop. See our other post to read all about it.
We wandered back down the hill to find Pacho and his motorbike stuck in a ditch which we helped him out of. It was steep and he risked letting going of the bike and it cruising away. He was grateful but probably also dislikes this route. Easier on horse I’d say. We had read about a restaurant in Lonely Planet called Donde Richard which was nearby. These recommendations are generally good but can sometimes attract too many tourists. We gave it a go anyhow. Most restaurants are grouped together but Donde Richard appeared to have bit more flare as the staff were in pressed whites and it was cleanand tidy. Earlier when we walked past and it was packed so we knew it was popular also. Taking a quiet seat down the back we had the lunch menu recited to us in Spanish. We understood the basics and Sarah decided on steak and I chose the Fish. Starters included soup with a picante side salsa and a jug of fresh limonade.
Then came the side salad and chips before our main course. The table began to look like a smorgasbord fit for royalty. Sarah’s steak was massive, cooked to perfection and had that charcoal cooked flavour. Seriously that big I had to help her out with it.
My Mojarra fish equally as big, pre sliced and fried. I initially thought it could be dry, but the flesh peeled off the bones and was juicy. The crunchy coating was similar to KFC’s and got a bit much towards the end, but I was keen to focus my attention on consuming the best bits first.
We were slightly worried about the possible cost but at the same time delighted to be sharing great Colombian food and rejoicing our confirmation of a horse tour for the following day. Total cost came to 32,000cop each (£10). I think we only needed fruit for dinner.
Another reason to visit this beautiful country.