Chapter 5::Table of Contents::Chapter 7

Chapter 6
To Tierradentro
Tierradentro
Silvia

Mon Oct. 16:

Went down to the Mini for 2 breakfasts each to send us on our way.

The bus left for Garzón at 12:15 so we had plenty of time to pack our packs, finish drying my boots in the sun and even play a little friz. Bought our tickets and went to the jugo stand down the street for a delicious banana & raspberry jugo.

The bus ride to Garazón was short and hot. [1] Had to get the bus driver to clear our seats from home-steaders, but once in place the ride was fine. Except for a little gas leaking from my gas can, nothing was damaged en route. Checked into a Residencia (San Louis) with the requisite revving engines and crying babies but maybe there’ll be no roosters.

There’s some confusion about buses. They leave town at 6:00AM and arrive in La Plata at 8. but that's too late to catch a bus to Tierradentro - so the bus folks say. Don’t hardly sound right tho. Maybe we’ll hitch.

After a regular dinner of the same old slop with mountains of rice, back in the res. the resident lovely came in to ask for help pronouncing her English. She had the biggest English book I’ve ever seen. It looked like an unabridged dictionary or a big medical ref. book. Huge hard bound sucker. She and N. pronounced English words like “sweater” and “that” for 1/2 hr or so while mama and several urchins watched on. During the lesson the lights went out and we were forced to go to candle power until it came back on.

It seems like most of the women we’ve encountered are either young, young & beautiful, or old and fat with kids in tow. The old saying “barefoot and pregnant” started in Colo. There are precious few women our age who aren’t married and/or gone to seed. As N. says - those with big tits got guts to match. And many are just plane ugly with bad teeth, hairy ankles, bulging bellies, and skinny legs.

Tues Oct 17:

Arose at 4:30 to the beautiful sound of no roosters. Gathered our goods and walked downstairs to the bus station.

Left at 6:AM for La Plata. The only noteworthy point of the trip aside from the beautiful mountain scenery was the fact that I had to piss for the last hour of the trip. Funny how simple biological necessities can taint an otherwise OK trip. Got to La Plata at 8:AM and indeed the bus folks were right; the only bus to San Andres (Tierradentro) leaves at 5:AM.

Sooo after a breakfast of greasy buñuelos and empanadas and a glass of O.J. we decided to hitch. Walked to the edge of town. There we observed an incredible lack of traffic. We could count the cars that went by in 2 hours on one hand. One fellow stopped and asked us if we wanted to go to a farm 1 km down the road. We said no. A bus stopped going to Valencia(?) but not finding it on any map, we were reluctant to head into the unknown.

At one point in our wait we were joined by 2 fellows carrying loads of wood; and several little kids. We are a real tourist attraction. Tourists and an attraction. Then a collectivo stopped and offered to take us to San A. for 300 pesos. The bus only costs 35. We declined.

About 11:45 we decided to head back to town & a residencia. But before we had a chance to put on our packs - the fellow with the farm 1km down the road stopped again and asked us 1st if we spoke English and 2nd if we’d like a cold beer. [2] We couldn’t refuse.

So he took us to his house in town and said “Welcome to my house - it’s your house.” We dropped off our packs and rode back to his farm to drop off some seed corn. Then back to town [3] and a family meal with his mom and his wife (cute!)(Mom ain’t bad either). Then back to the farm over stomach lurching 4 wheel drive roads.

At the farm the wife got out to help process coffee. We toured the farm in his Jeep while listening to Beatles (Rocky Raccoon, Hey Jude, and others) Elton John, and Carol King. There we were riding around another cattle ranch listening to the Marlboro theme & the Bonanza theme on tape.

All the driving & bouncing and carbon monoxide fumes combined to give me a good headache.

At the farm, Carlos had hired the local prisoners to work the fields. planting corn. We saw how coffee was made. First they pick the red, ripe beans, then they're dryed in the sun, then they’re ground to crack the outer shell, which is then blown away in the wind. The remaining beans are roasted in a ceramic dish and then cooled. These beans are then ground into a powder and are finally ready for actual brewing. Who figured all that out?

After a demonstration of lasso techniques and a rest to cure my headache, we got back in the Jeep with 4 prisoners, 1 guard, N & I, Carlos & wife, and another younger girl. Took the crooks back to the penny and came back to the house in town. [4]

On the farm N. spotted some magic mushrooms & ate 3. He got a little buzz.

In town we were invited to spend the night. Ate another good meal of chicken & rice & retired to watch Colo. T.V. and write. Tomorrow we’ll try and catch the 5:AM to San A.

Wed Oct 18:

Indeed we did catch the 5:AM. When the old alarm went off at 4:AM and launched itself onto the floor we both woke up with a start. Sometimes traveling is harder work than work.

The bus to San Andres cost 35P and took almost 3hrs through more beautiful mtn. scenery. The town itself is about 4km from the bus stop on the main road. All uphill.

At one rest stop on our way to the top we inquired as to a residencia in town. The fellow pointed to a road (path) going up the hill right where we had stopped (about 1 1/2 km from town). Before this we had asked about camping at the Museo down the road - not possible; and then at the tourist hotel(!) next door complete with a pool. Their rooms cost 410P for a double and camping cost 150P. No thanks. At the place where we finally wound up, just a house with a couple extra rooms, it costs us 40P per person. Clean & quiet.

By this time hunger was foremost on our minds. We trucked the 1 1/2 km up the hill into town and stopped at the first restaurant we saw, the Murujui. Had our best breakfast in Colo. so far. Excellent scrambled eggs, tomatoes, whole wheat biscuits, jam, cheese & coffee all for 25P. Then back to the res. for cameras.

On our way down to visit the museo, we ran into a couple of Frenchmen to whom we recommended our residencia. One of them had a Beuleau 8mm movie camera. Very nice. Just like the one I wanted to buy complete with sync sound.

Then to the museo . Lots of pots & urns. Upstairs they had a nice display of Indian life. Had some machines - one for squeezing sugar cane and a couple others whose function was not clear. Then up the hill to the burial caves.

There were many caves, all covered by constructions to keep out rain . The best ones were complete with light bulbs. The tombs are basically oval in shape with 2 pillars in the middle - carved with faces. The best preserved ones have paintings on the walls of geometric patterns. [5] All diamond shaped . Done in black & red.

While touring around the sites we ran into a group of school kids on tour. Because of them we got to see a recently uncovered cave only about a month old. This one had all the urns still in place. Very small compared to the rest but quite interesting.

Then we ran into some other travelers coming north from Popayan. They looked like freaks with beards, dirty patched over jeans, flutes & other hippie trappings. They told of good hiking in Peru & cactus in Bolivia. They had been falsely arrested in Popayan on drug charges. People ask for the trouble they get.

After seeing them & how they were traveling - we decided our way was better for us. Stay semi-clean cut and try to meet the people. No sense alienating folks just because you look like a freak.

Then up to El Tablón, just down the road. Here on a small hill top are several San Augustin type statues. [6] Then back to the res. to do some sewing and sno-sealing. Then back to the Murujui for a good dinner of typical stuff prepared very well.

The rest of the evening was spent trading info. with the Frenchmen. If we can keep our overall expenses down to $10 a day we may be able to go to Europe for 3 mos. from Recife, Brazil. Wouldn’t that be fun?

Thurs Oct 19.

A day of basic relaxation.

Awoke in time to get to the Murujui for breakfast at 8. Didn’t have the correct change so she let it go until tonight. The lady has a little boy, 3 little girls who help bring food to the tables, and a newborn or very close to new baby boy. It seems as tho N. & I are her only customers. We tell her when we’re going to be there & she cooks accordingly. The place is decorated with posters of nude & semi-nude women, Marx, Mao, Christ, George Harrison, Joe Cocker, and other Spanish Idols. The two dogs sit waiting by your side for any scrap of food to fall.

After breakfast it’s back to the res. We’re staying in the home of Marta de Angel. We read about her in the S.A. Handbook but didn’t know that’s where we were until N. asked her her name today.

Read and sat around ’til about 11:00 trying to figure ways to keep expenses down to $10 a day. It’s too far in the future to think of 2 years hence, so we’re just going to try and cut costs. If we get to Recife and have enough to go to Europe, then we’ll go. After all this heavy planning - we took a nap until about 2PM.

Then awoke and decided to climb up to Alto de San Andres. Near El Tablón and town, this site has 7 or 8 burial caves like the ones near the museo yesterday. A couple had caved in . One was particularly nice with the red & black diamond pattern all around but it also had some kind of figure on one of the columns. Looks a little like a face done in red. [7] The solid diamonds are black and the other lines are red. On our way up to the site we saw two of the freaks from yesterday. [8] They didn’t look so spaced out or freaky today.

By the time we came back down it had started to rain lightly. It rained most of last night, too. I finished reading Zen Mind, Beginners Mind. Then being inspired to meditate again, I TM’d it while N slept. It felt good to do it again.

Then back for dinner. Truly fine food. My bowels haven’t felt this good since leaving the U.S. During dinner one of the little girls fell and whacked her head against a cabinet. Much crying ensued. Then just as we finished our meal, the lites went out. We paid the lady for breakfast, dinner, and breakfast tomorrow all by candle lite. Then walked back to the res. observing the stars, milky way, and a passing satellite.

The French folks left today. I was going to give them a couple rolls of 200ASA but I forgot and they didn’t ask while I was asleep around noon. We got their address so if we get to Marselles we’ll have a place to stay. Tomorrow its wash clothes & climb the heights to see more tombs.

Fri Oct 20.

Awoke to a bright & sunny morn. Went to the Murujui for another fine breakfast. It wasn’t quite filling enough so we bought another couple breadcitos for the walk back.

Then we filled a canteen, grabbed the cameras and took a long uphill walk to El Aquacate, another tomb way up the hill. The hour & 1/2 walk was strenuous but beautiful . The scenery from the top of the hill was far more interesting than the tomb itself .

The tomb was small with a few different figures on the walls. Some looked like animals and one looked like a human form. Almost childlike in execution. The diamond pattern was lacking.

We stopped to dry out our sweaty sox and then trucked back down the hill.

Stopped at a little store for a couple of cokes & some lemon filled cookies for lunch.

N. had washed clothes before breakfast and I washed mine after our hike. Then we showered & shaved & trimmed the ’staches. By this time it was clouding up and before my clothes were completely dry it started to rain.

We spent most of the afternoon reading guide books and listening to the rain. But before dinner time the rain stopped and I hung my clothes back out on the line. Back for another dinner. This one not quite as good only because there was nothing to mix the rice with. Also contained yucca which I have learned to dislike. After din. we bought some bread for the bus ride tomorrow. We’ll try to make it to Silvia in one day.

Took my clothes in off the line. Maybe my sox will be dry by morn.

Sat Oct 21:

Awoke with the roosters and packed up all our stuff - damp sox and all.

For breakfast [9] we had 4 pesos worth of tinto at the res., along with the bread we bought last nite  During mustache trimming yesterday N. showed Sra. de Angel our nifty folding scissors. This morn. she asked if she could buy them. Since we have sciz. on the S.A.K. we said yes. Sold them for 80P.

Then we trucked off to the bus stop. There we met the other two freaks from a couple days ago. A couple from New Zealand. They were coming north so we traded info. about San Augustin, Macchu Picchu, Galapagos, and Chile. When the bus arrived it was standing room only due to the fact that today was market day in Inza, the next town down the road. After the bus was filled to max. cap. they managed to squash in about 15 more folks. Sardines have it easy compared to our ride to Inza.

Once in town we learned that the road had washed out to Popayan. Instead of waiting to get thru the landslide at the site, we waited in Inza. The market there was big and colorful but nothing to write home about. We took advantage of the delay to eat a good 25P lunch at the bus depot with the driver & his helper. When the bus left it wasn’t nearly so crowded but there was some doubt as to the passability of the road.

When we got to the landslide itself, it was clear no bus would make it thru . Sooo - we hiked across the rocks & water and up the road about 1 1/2 km to a little house up the hill. Another bus was there, but shortly it left to go back to the washout. We cooled our heels there for about 2 hrs. Passed time by playing with another little kitten & drinking tinto.

I finally decided to go back down the hill and photograph the landslide . By this time the bulldozer had started to clear a path but the road was still closed. A bus coming up the hill was just unloading when I arrived. All the passengers had to scramble over the rocks, including one fellow with a pig.

As soon as all these folks had crossed over to the other bus - we finally got on our way to Totoro. The ride was uncrowded & scenic . [10] Once in Totoro we found an open sided bus headed for Silvia. They were waiting for some other fellow to arrive from Inzá. “10 minutes” the driver said. 2 hrs. later the other truck with the folks arrived and we were on our way to Silvia.

During our wait N. & I talked with an older lady also going to Silvia. She told us of a cheap place to stay and said she would take us there once in Silvia. The bus left but it wasn’t a direct flight. [11] First we had to stop for about a 1/2 hr. at the cheese factory and wait for the workers to finish for the day. By this time it was raining & very cold. I put on my jacket, put the hood up, and was still cold.

What seemed like an eternity later - we finally arrived in Silvia. We were led to a “casa familiar” (somebody’s house) by the old lady and a younger fellow who, it turns out, lived there. He was getting borrachoed on Aguardiente during the ride & N & I decided that looked like a good Idea. Once we were settled, one of the kids, a little 9 yr. old, took us to an expensive restaurant where we had the same old stuff at twice the price.

We decided to settle the meal with Aguardiente & some bread & cheese. Couldn’t find any cheese so we’ll have to make do without. We still don’t know how much the room is costing us but we hope it’s less than downtown.

Sun Oct 22.

Awoke with large amounts of fog between the eyes. That Aguardiente is a once a year type buzz. I spent all night having bizarre dreams and trying to sleep in a bed that’s 6" too short.

The lady that we talked to on the bus yesterday is, it turns out, the dueña here. She was busy making breakfast when we rolled into the kitchen. Had some kind of fried dough, cheese, and hot chocolate for breakfast. After eats she suggested we take a walk up the hill going out of town. We had that in mind anyway as we wanted to look for mushrooms.

Out of town and up the hill we went. Beautiful mountain scenery but a slight lack of sun. It was cloudy most of the morn. The mushroom hunt turned up quite a few prospects. I found about a dozen. During the course of our hunt N. & I got separated. He went up the hill while I stayed towards the middle. Due to a lack of communication, I started to head back into town while he thought I was still up the hill.

On my way back down, I slipped in some mud and got mud all over my camera. Luckily the lens cover was on and the mud wasn’t too wet. I sat on the hillside and diligently cleaned every speck. I don’t think the camera or lens suffered, in fact it’s probably cleaner now than it was before. While cleaning, the sky began to darken & drops began to fall. I decided to let N. take care of himself and walked back into town alone.

Once back at the house my thighs & hips were sore from all the hill climbing so I crashed out expecting N. to be back any time. 2 hrs. and a thunderstorm later - N. walked in dripping wet. He had trucked all over the hillside looking for me. When he got back & we finished explaining to each other where we had been, we ate the ’shrooms. As it turns out all our trucking and getting wet was in vain. The ’shrooms did nothing at all.

We spent about an hour laying in the bags getting warm, and then went outside and watched the thunderstorm for a while ’til my tennies got wet. By then it was time to eat. An uninspired and cool meal just like all the rest without any meat.

So here it is, 6PM, raining, cold, no pot, no women, nothing to do but write. My leg may be getting infected from the saddle sores I incurred last Sat. It’s a little swollen around the bumps and hurts to touch. There’s also a lump next to my right pube which may be lymph glands or may not. Only time will tell. All in all today is a day of missing the comforts of home.

Mon Oct 23:

Awoke to a nasty bite on my left ring finger. It was swollen and oozing clear liquid.

I put some triple antibiotic salve on my leg before retiring last nite which seems to have done some good, the swelling is down and the sore spot near my pube is better. [12]

We had the same breakfast this morn as yesterday. It looked like rain this morn so we didn’t walk any distance. Just went down to the Plaza and sat on the bench thinking “pot”. It didn’t work.

Had some tinto at a local Bar & Grille, bought some cookies, and what we thought to be a deck of cards. Upon opening we discovered we had purchased a 40 card deck with suits of Rods, Cups, Pentacles, and Swords. Needless to say we were both amused and confused. The suits each lack an 8, 9, and Queen. We spent most of the afternoon trying to figure out what kind of games to play with 40 cards (10 card Tarot, Pentacles wild?).

We wound up playing first, solitaire; then we figured out a way to play 40 card, double, left handed, Australian solitaire. This kept us amused for a couple hours. It’s a boring town.

After our mid-afternoon coffee & fried dough things break, we were still hungry - so we went back to the store & bought a tin of sardines, some whole wheat breads, and some chocolate bars. The best meal we’ve had in a couple days.

A few more hands of 40 card DLHAS, and it was time for dinner: corn & potato soup, rice, noodles, cabbage, and fried bananas. This is a vegetarian household. Couldn’t even touch the rice, I was so full from the sardines. I did, however, have a monumental shit. My bowels are working well.

We found out that this place is costing us 100P each (including meals) per day. After dinner we amused the little kids first with the jew’s harps and then with a rousing game of 31. Played like Black- jack only to 31. The two little boys and a little girl [13] had more fun than N. I wrote.

It didn’t rain too much today and we probably could have gone for a longer walk, but a day of relaxation never hurt anybody. Besides-Rainy Days & Mondays Always Bring Me Down. Tomorrow is market day. Hopefully there’ll be enough life to photo.

Tues Oct 24:

Awoke brite & early, had the same old breakfast and went off to the market . All the local Indians [14] were in town.

The women wear blue shawls, skirt, and hightop tennies; massive white necklaces [15] , gold earrings and black felt hats . The men are about the same [16] but without necklaces. Just about every woman had a young child either strapped to their back papoose style, or nursing from the front.

We saw many colorful wall hangings, wool ponchos, and sweaters. Other than this it was your basic market with fruits, veggies, and hardware. I managed to take some photos of the colorful goods and even took some shots from the hip of some Indian women .

After a couple hours of wandering about we headed back to the Plaza. There we spotted a Gringo type and asked him where he was from. Colombia - he said in English. He was from Medellin living in Los Angeles. We told him of our attempt to find magic mushrooms and pot. He said the ’shrooms around here aren’t any good but he’d ask around to see if he could find us any pot. We sat in the Plaza waiting. By the time our buns got cold we still hadn’t been approached by a local dealer so we went into the Fuente de Soda for some Leche con Café and pan de queso. Then back to the Plaza for more boredom.

When we got cold again we walked up the hill to the church & back and took a couple more photos of the town. On our way back to the Plaza we met two girls from Israel and a guy from Paraguay. Talked with them for only a few minutes. After another round of sitting in the Plaza we came back to the house.

The smell of roasting coffee brought us to the kitchen where I took a photo of the girl grinding coffee . It became clear that we weren’t going to get lunch so we went back to the store for more sardines, bread, and chocolate. After a few more hands of 40C, DLHAS it was mid afternoon coffee & bread time. Then we climbed the heights of the wardrobe to replace a light bulb in a 20’ ceiling.

The afternoon looked like rain so we spent the rest of the time writing to the folks and digesting.

In the kitchen the stove is a big fireplace. The old man sits right in the fireplace, feet not 1/2M from the flames. His son - the guy we saw drinking Aguardiente on the bus into town, was hanging around the Plaza this morn. We ran into him twice during our waiting and wandering. The thing seems to be to do all the market duties in the morn., then drink Ag. all afternoon.

They load the open sided buses to the gunnels with Indians and goods and motor off into the hills. The rest just hang around the Plaza. A boring town.

After another vegetarian meal we talked with a couple of the girls about things. Before dinner I took a couple of photos of the family women . The rest of the night was spent planning the rest of our stay in Colo.


[1] Along the way a lady was getting sick out the door. The guys in front of her at first wouldn’t let her to the door & made fun of her. Crude.

[2] He had studied in England in ’69

[3] The first thing we did was avail ourselves of the shower facilities. So nice to take a luke-cool as opposed to cold shower. Comfort is relative.

[4] N played  guitar for a while and talked cars&motorcycles with Carlos.

[6] Here they have the only stone representation of an Indian hut:

[8] a couple

[9] We shared our bread with the one-eyed dog and the little kitten.

[10] The back of the bus was too filled with goods for our packs so we had to put them in the aisle. Folks had to crawl over them including the drunks, who had a hard time.

[11] The guy with the pig also came with to Silvia. The pig rode on the back in a bag.

[12] Put some more goop on my leg this morn. It’s getting better. Also had many bizarre dreams last nite. Almost makes sleep more fun than being awake.

[13] Another little girl joined later. After the cards, we went out for a beer & loud music.

[14] Guambianos

[15] the more money they have, the more necklaces they wear

[16] have grey ponchos

Chapter 5::Table of Contents::Chapter 7