Saturday, August 31, 2013

Statues, sugarcane, and....bras? August 13-15, 2013

I belong to a Facebook group called Women Who Sail.  While writing this blog post, I was switching back and forth between my words here, and a thread on “customs”.  As happens so many times, for some reason the topic got switched to "bras"…..and so goes the conversational pattern of most women.  Funnily, but the subject of bras was on my mind as I was recalling our journey from Popayan, Colombia to San Agustin.  I knew that our road was going to be a bit rough.  It said so in the guidebook, and we had seen it in print in other places.  We had even been told to expect an “interesting” ride.  We were mentally prepared, or so it seemed.

Upon arrival at the bus terminal, our 9:30am departure was still a go, but apparently there was also one in…..1 minute.  We were hustled aboard, only to find that pushing our departure one hour ahead, also meant that we got the last 2 seats on the bus, and they weren’t the good ones.  Ron was the “lucky” one (as men usually are who have women with them that don’t want to hear any whining) and got a seat in the middle in the back.  Granted, the seat cushion didn’t seem to be attached to anything, and threatened at each turn to pitch him into the lap of the little girl sitting on the floor in front of him.  Me, well I got to cuddle the 7 boxes holding all the tomato seedlings destined for…..somewhere.  This doesn’t sound like an inconvenience, but it sure is when they are stacked to the ceiling, and every 15 seconds, around yet another curve at Indy Car Rally speeds, they threatened to decapitate me.  Although our year's traveling had shown us a thing or two, this bus ride was supposed to take 7 hours.  After 15 minutes, I turned to Ron and told him I didn’t think I could do it for that long.  He only exclaimed, “hang in there.”  

It was a few hours into this trip that the notion of bras was uppermost in my mind.  It was a two-bra kind of journey, and I knew when we would disembark, my boobs would have migrated their way down to my lap, or perhaps puddled around my ankles.  

San Agustin was our destination.  A small village in the southwest portion of Colombia, it boasted over 500 statues scattered throughout an area roughly 250 square miles, standing guard over ancient tribal tombs.  Not much is known about the people who erected them, as they disappeared prior to the arrival of the Spaniards.  I won't bore you with all the photos we took, as I bet we have 2 or 3 of every one of them!!

Somewhat reminiscent of an early-day Sponge Bob

There were so many of them, that a day later, the joke was….”mmm, another statue……mmm, great."

This is a good time to talk about the Colombians.  Ron thinks I generalize, and maybe sometimes I do, but it's very interesting to meet with people from different countries.  The better my spanish becomes, the more I can recognize the different sub-cultures, even amongst Latin Americans.  THEY ARE NOT ALL ALIKE.  Some recognizable attributes are:

Colombians are VERY gregarious.  They like nothing better than to talk, alot, with alot of emotion.  
Colombians want you to like their country.  We were constantly asked if we did....and we were honest in saying that we loved it, and them.  Agradable is the word. 
Colombians are very happy, and busy.  Actually, they are really HAPPY, and BUSY. 
Colombians want to know about who we are and always want to know where we are from, how long we were in their country, and how long we were going to stay.
Colombians wanted to have their pictures taken with us.  We always happily complied.  

 A day later, we embarked on a jeep tour of more statues, waterfalls, rivers, and most interesting, the way in which they process sugarcane, making the product panella.  We munched our way around Colombia eating panella coated peanuts.  

It was about this time that we started to hear rumblings about an imminent nationwide strike, about to be called by the campesinos of Colombia.  But we were only 9 days into our first inland trip in months!  If you learn nothing else when traveling, know that life will always change the best laid plans. 

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