Yeap we did it, arriving in San Agustin not knowing it was Columbia’s Independence Day! Naturally, any half way decent room was gone, considering that this is one of Columbia’s major tourist attractions. No, there are plenty of hostels, but very few meet the expectations of foreigners: access to reliable information on onward transport / sights / tours, Internet, laundry service and most important exchange of current information with other travelers. The use of a kitchen is a great plus, since “frijoles, arroz y pollo” gets a bit boring. This is not a joke, that is the never ending diet in cheap restaurants!
So for the first night we ended up at the very friendly and arty “Casa de Francois”. There, the above mentioned infrastructure is superb. Francois is really dedicated to help travelers and make them feel at home. Francois’ wife even bakes “real” bread, which is a highly appreciated change to the local sweetish one made of maize. Another big advantage, although the hostel is high above the village, a local bus passes nearby. Unfortunately, only a very small, windowless room with shower and toilet outside was all that was available. Normally this would not bother us, but Heidi has a bad cold and the evenings and nights here can be chilly, especially if it is raining.
So upon Heidi’s repeated requests, we moved to Casa de Nelly, which has beautifully decorated rooms and a tropical garden that leaves you speechless. BUT, the place is quite outside the village and far from everything. None of the above mentioned infrastructure was available and since we were the only non-Columbian guests, this limited our social interactions. Although Arturo, a friend of the owner made up for it, at least in Heidi’s opinion… He never ran out of stories and was always surrounded by a rather bohemian crowd.
On our first evening we hiked all the way to Hostal El Marco, owned by a Swiss guy, René. Even if it received “our pick” in the Lonely Planet, that particular evening even this place looked depressing. The rain had turned the lawn into a murky affair and sitting in an open air restaurant just did not seem appropriate in this chilly weather. Our mood improved when our meal, a delicious curry arrived, the whole reason why we came out here and climbed the steep hill. Although Rene was fully booked, we only ran into one other guest who happily joined us for dinner, a charming lady from Arizona with Puerto Rican ancestors.
One day we even passed the more up-scale Hostal Anacoana, if we had known it is also on the local bus route we might have given it a try, but again it is one of these beautiful, comfortable, scenic place, but lonely since it is way above a traveler’s budget.