Monday, March 11, 2013

In San Agustin – finally
12 days in the saddle, nearly 800km – that's far more than we did in the whole February and I think neither we've ever cycled so many days in a raw. The road was easy, but at the same time boring for most of the time; first a quick ride on a plateau through Bogota's neighbouring towns to avoid the crazy capital, then fast downhill cycle where in one go we dropped from some 2500 masl to 300 masl and then flat again in hot and humid valley of river Magdalena. The only questionable attraction of this ride was the co-called Tatacoa Desert, which is actually not a desert, but a tiny area, where nearby mountains block most of the clouds, so it doesn’t rain much there, but when the rain falls, it is normally heavy and forms peculiar forms in the ground that is made out of red clay. But because of its micro scale it looks like a miniature of Grand Canyon surrounded by pasture lands – if it wasn’t on our way I don’t think it is worth a hassle.
So it was a fast ride, good to cover some kilometres; until the last three days where we got closer to the mountains (roller-coaster again) and coffee lands as well; why the coffee is important? Because at that time there was general strike of coffee farmers that we’d heard of in news, but we also had heard that only areas where the coffee is grown are affected, so we didn’t pay much attention to it. Until we came across the first fallen tree on the road; we passed it and there was another fallen three, some huge rocks and burned tires and crowd of guys at the age ranging from 12 to 70 armed with sticks. We found ourselves in the middle of the protest, which had a form of blocking the national roads. That day we managed – with some hassles – to pass three blockages, but – as we found out from locals – the protestants were letting to pass only to pedestrians and cyclists, so all those towns had the deliveries cut off for eleven days and some people were stuck in one place for a week. Luckily, that night the coffee farmers’ representatives signed the agreement and the next morning all the roads were open again. What it meant for us was that, as the previous day we had the road only for ourselves, this day we had to share them with all this, hold for eleven days, traffic.
We arrived to San Agustin tired, so we are going to hang out here for few days to recover our strength and to see the area, which is very magic; not far from here the very Colombian river Magdalena has its source, it is also here where the two largest Colombian sierras (Central and Eastern) meet and continuous South all the way to the bottom of Chile as Andes.  So it seems quite obvious that this place was once very important site for some ancient mysterious culture, that didn’t leave much evidence about whom they were apart from countless peculiar stone figures scattered on both sites of Canyon of river Magdalena. And that is what we are going to see today.