“You don’t want any of this.” Tom assured me.
“In fact, its terrible, ill just get rid of it for you” he sweetly promised as he started eating the chocolate cake even faster.
Though I was pretty full from the (totally unexpected!) glorious and gourmet meal from the Casa de Francois, in San Agustin, Colombia, I knew from the increasing size of Tom’s bites that I needed to get in fast to at least try some of the chocolate cake.
We arrived in San Agustin from Popayan in the afternoon and were greeted by a very interesting mix of rusticity and luxury. The room smells a bit moldy, (it rains here a lot!) but has beautiful artisan windows, and prints on the wall. The bathrooms seem like they might be outhouses, but are impeccably clean. There is interesting art, mosaics, bamboo buildings and hammocks everywhere and the whole thing is set in this lush and verdant garden of eden with awe-inspiring views.
However the food is I think, the crown jewel of this place. Hidden in southern Colombia, in a place where the only roads leading to and from it are unpaved and treacherous, and the water comes out of the tap, not only unsafe to drink, but also a suspicious yellowy-brown color, Francois (whose casa we are staying at) is somehow able to create amazing gastronomical delights which make me feel as though I am in 5 star resort.
BEST CREPE I HAVE EVER HAD.
DON’T EVEN GET ME STARTED ON THE STEAK.
THE VEGETABLES WERE KIND OF SWEET AND SOUR STYLE, BUT NOT WITH THE NASTY STICKY ORANGE SAUCE. THEY WERE STIR FIRED IN A WOK WITH MARACUYA SEEDS (KINDA LIKE PASSION FRUIT) AND VINEGAR AND SALT.
After waking up at Casa de Francois and enjoying another lovely meal Tom and I decided to lie around in a hammock with a cat for awhile before exploring the grounds and heading off to see some of these ancient stone sculptures we have been hearing so much about.
We decided to get a guide, which was good because otherwise we would have just looked at some interesting looking statues and left. With the help of the guide we were able to hear about the history of these interesting statues and understand about 50-80 per cent of it. We also got to practice our Spanish and ask the guide ingenious questions about the native cultures of the alto rio Magdalena.
Jenny: The people from here, who here live, they are dead. They put the seeds in the floor? Or they take out the berries from the forest?
Guide: Are you asking if their society was agrarian, or hunter-gatherer? It was a combination. Archaeologists have found evidence of cultivation of corn, beans and yuca, as well as evidence that the culture gathered fruits and hunted.
Jenny: Oh! They eating beans, from the floor! How interesting.
Tom: Did he make bees? There are bees here, with no sting. They are here now? Where are the bees with no sting?
Guide: The ancient peoples of the upper Magdalena river did eat honey. But they did not cultivate bees. They would wait until nightfall and go and take honey from the bee hives. I’m not sure what you are asking me though.
Tom: The Mayas or Incas, the bees with no sting. I want to see the bees with no sting.
And on it went…
The guide was very kind, and let us stop and marvel over every animal we saw. Big caterpillars and a tiny baby bird!
He even went so far as to compliment our Spanish speaking skills. Which must have been a lie, but a lie which we rewarded with a nice tip anyway.