Posted by: adventuressetravels | November 18, 2011

San Agustin: Mysteries from the Past


There is no name for the culture it is so ancient.  We know little about them beyond carved statues and conjecture.  Conjecture and clues from subsequent cultures Pottery cannot last that long, neither can bone in this humid environment.  Only rock and even that erodes, worn away by rain, wind, and plant life.

 

San Agustin archeological site is the largest pre-Columbian site in South America.  The statues, some as old as 5,300 years old, are nothing short of incredible.  Men baring jaguar fangs, winged guardians of gravesites, monkeys offering fish to the earth.  Representations of the sun, the moon, offering to the earth, the air, and the water…  Each statue is fascinating, as much for the meaning as for its longevity.

I had wanted to get a glimpse of this ancient culture since the moment I heard about it.  I was told the only way to see certain archaeological sites, namely the only statues that still retained color was by horseback.  Seeing the Colombian countryside by horseback sounded amazing and even better if the trail ride could give me a better understanding of these statues and their meaning.  How could I not go?

The little buckskin mare pricked her delicate black-tipped ears and broke into a canter.  I leaned forward giving her her head.  Riding along the mountainous dirt path, rocks littering the way, I marveled at the Colombian countryside that surrounded me.  This experience was leagues better than staring at the scenery from the window of a car.  Before I knew it we were at the first archeological site.  Though not as old as some of the statues on the site whose 6,000 years had bleached them, these were the only statues that had retained color.

The color clung to them and so did the mystery.  I marveled at how the intricate carving had weathered the years, especially in this humid climate.  After all these years the warriors still pulled their lips back in a timeless snarl revealing razor sharp teeth,  frightening away potential grave-robbers.  I had to admit, they were still pretty imposing.

Every half hour or so we would stop at another archeological site, restaurant, or overlook to explore ruins, marvel at the landscape, culture, history and give the horses a rest.  Before I knew it the four was up and we were at the archeological park.

 

 

Though the riding tour had been amazing, the park was even more impressive.   The woodsy smell of tannin, mushrooms and damp earth filled the air as I walked through the majestic forest to the ruins.  Ancient statues dating back as far as 5,300 years still standing.

 

Carved stone figures in every direction, each one unique. I found it especially interesting how juxtaposition seemed to be a running theme, day and night, man and woman, heaven and earth, fire and water.

San Agustin UNESCO world heritage site is a must for all history lovers.  Even if you only have a passing interesting in history, the lush green hills, wonderful rides, and jaw-dropping waterfalls are more than worth the trip if you are anywhere near Colombia.  The statues, the history the landscape, and the mystery make this one of the most fascinating places I have ever had the pleasure of visiting.

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