Tag: sculptures

Tierradentro, San Andrés De Pisimbala, Colombia

Tierredentro, a national park, near the village of San Andrés de Pisimbala. I had e mailed Alejandro,  the owner of Tierradentro Hostel, and booked a room. Two may be three nights. The place was lovely and I was the only guest. It was quiet, warm and so peaceful. It was still early, about four thirty pm, so I decided to look for something to eat. There was a restaurant nearby, where the woman told me rudely she didn’t open till six pm.

I walked on to the village, gorgeous old church, lots of murals. Looked around, walked back, and saw a young couple at the restaurant. They were from Holland. I ordered my food, and had a beer. The young couple received their food, while I waited, waited and waited some more! When I went to ask what happened to my food, the woman was down right rude!  No idea what all this was about, I paid for my beer and left.

I woke up rather late, about eight o’clock, late for Clombians, who are all up at the crack of dawn, and when Alejandro asked how the dinner was the night before. I had to tell him that I had not eaten anything the day before! He apologised for the behaviour of the rude woman, and came down with a coffee, fruit and two empanadas!! Mind you, I was glad to meet one rude person, all the people here have been so incredibly polite and wonderful, it is good to see that there are other kinds too!

At nine o’clock I was in the park, looking at the two musea, before starting my climb upon the mountain. It had started to rain! This made the cobble stone path extremely slippery, and rather hard to walk on. I stopped several times on the climb to watch the amazing view. There was nobody else on the path. This is something I delight in, normally touristy sites are so very crowded, but not here, not yet!

The burial sites are just amazing. They have been discovered in about the seventies. Very little is known about the Indigenous people, who have created these amazing chambers.  These underground constructions are called hypogea, created by the NASA people, who have all but disappeared. The experts think they were created between 600 to 900 BC. The first cluster of burial chambers is called Loma de Segovia, sorry, I forgot to take a photo of the overall place!! It took awhile before I caught my breath.!

A young German couple were already climbing in and out of these tom So! I took one look, and freaked out!! There are steep, and I mean STEEP, spiral staircases, without any handrails or supports what so ever, a BIG black hole you need to step into! Oops! This is an absolute NO GO zone for me!

The lovely young man, who was guarding the place, called John, ( not Juan!) offered to help me. There were about six to nine tombs if I remember correctly. I suggested he just help me into the ones with the paintings and carvings! I climbed in and out these contraptions with enormous difficulties. I saw four stunningly beautifully decorated burial sites! I could not take photos on the iPad, due to the lack of light. Here are just a few taken from the information boards. It was awesome, just awesome! Mind you, my knees are never going to be the same again!

The next stage was a steep hike up, up, up to Alto del Duende, where the guide was an old man, with worse knees than me, so I didn’t go into any of the chambers here. The young German couple, told me that their knees were hurting too, and they were in their twenties!! I did read all the information, sat down with the guide, and enjoyed the stunningly beautiful country site.

Time to move on down the mountains! One more stop to make! A place with several sculptures like the ones in San Agustin, but not as old. By now I was quite exhausted. My minuscule breakfast had worn of and I needed fuel if I was to keep on going on! So I stopped in a wonderful restaurant, La Portada, the owner Leonardo , I had met the day before! Lunch was delicious. Leonardo offered to take me up on the other mountain the day after, so he could help me to climb into the burial tomb up there. This burial tomb is decorated with stars, the rainbow, the seasons etc. But……..it is a two hour hike UP the mountain!

Hm! Can I get back on that one, after I wake up tomorrow morning?? I need to see how my legs and knees are holding out! The next morning I woke up, stiff and sore and to more rain! Hm! Time to move on to warmer parts! The desert!




Beyond Bishkek

When I first arrived in Bishkek, I have to be honest, I was not too impressed. It is grey, cold and buildings are crumbling. I found it depressing and after Iran, very un- inviting. It is amazing when one arrives somewhere with expectations. It took awhile. Slowly the weather warmed, the clouds lifted, the trees started budding. Like Camelot, the snowy mountains appeared! Stunning! I walked, a lot. The city is full of sculptures, statues and empty water fountains. Parks, full of blossoming trees, crooked footpaths, and crumbling walls. The birds singing, the bees humming and those stunning snowy mountains in the background. Majestic, silent and very impressive.

Walking around town became an adventure, which I saved for the weekends. During the week I was immersed in 160 minutes a day of Russian. Too exhausted to do more than go to the supermarket, homework and a lot of sleeping! But on weekends I went walking and exploring.

I booked a one day trip to Burana tower. In the fields near Kegeti, there stands a tower which is about 24 meters high. It leans slightly, like the famous Pisa tower. It used to be twice as high, but lost half to the invading Mongols. There is a grassy mount, which used to be an ancient citadel, Balasagun.

There is also a collection of 6th to 10th century balbals, Turkic totem like stone markers, which according to my guide, were portraits of killed warriors! They didn’t look to happy, about having their portraits carved into stone. Each of them holding what looked like a wine goblet. That however, could have been wishful thinking on my part! ( have not had a drink for over two months now!) There were also some mausoleums, but only he foundations were left, all the rest was destroyed.

Horse sports are very popular in Kyrgyzstan. The most favourite game is called Kok boru, ulak-tartysh or buzkashi, which is a Kyrgyz term that means ” grey wolf”. It started as a hunting exercise. It is a full on team sport in which riders and horses can get hurt. The object is not a ball, but a headless goat whose body needs to be thrown into a circular ” goal”. I was fortunate enough to come across a game in full play. Danar stopped and explained the game to me. Yes, it was gruesome, but it is a tradition that goes back all the way to the time of Ghenis Khan. The goat was already dead, so there was no blood flying around. I was mightily impressed with the horsemanship, e backdrop of the stunning mountains and the beauty of these magnificent horses.

There was also a Muslim cemetery. This was not that old, most graves were around the nineteen fifties, but interesting enough they were also built like towers. Influenced may be by Burana tower? On the way home Danar stopped at a zoo, which wasn’t in a very good condition, which always depresses me. It had some funky sculptures though, which I greatly enjoyed. We had a traditional lunch Danar a meat based potato, while my soup was broccoli with my favourite bread. It was an absolutely magical day which we both enjoyed very much.

Danar’s English is fantastic, so he could explain a lot of the Kyrzyk customs. The main one is, that the youngest son ends up living with his parents and looks after them in their old age. The other main one is that he has time until he is thirty to find himself a wife, failing that, his parents will find him one!! He MUST be married by thirty. Girls get till twenty five, and then parents will interfere. The youngest son and his wife will move in with his parents, and look after them until they die! No old folks homes here, utmost respect and the tradition is NOT questioned! Parents just tell you from an early age on how it is going to work out for all of them! Hm! What about rebellious natured sons?? What if the son’s wife doesn’t like his parents? Eh?? Not possible! The parents ALWAYS come before wives or husbands! What I want to know is HOW do parents do this?? Pure brainwashing?

I am on the way to Osh now. Where I will spend the last seven days! I so hope I have a window seat, and that it is clear enough to get a view of the spectacular mountains! On the first of May I will go to Uzbekistan, and so the adventures go on, and on, and on!!

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