Heading to San Agustin, Colombia, numerous reliable travel gossips had urged us to stay at the organic farm, hostel, and restaurant that is called El Maco. They mentioned attractive lodging, excellent meals, beautiful views, and the experience of staying on a working, organic farm. What they forgot to mention, though, is the warm welcome and hospitality of host René Suter, from Switzerland. And that made our stay especially pleasant.
René (pronounced Renny) has taught his kitchen staff how to cook a memorably delicious menu. Imagine this: After about five miles of exploration of the archeological park that is the heart of St. Agustin, then getting caught in a rainstorm, we sat down to a meal of spaghetti al pesto for me and a chorizo pizza for John, accompanied by a salad of vegetables fresh from the garden. Other dishes we relished on other evenings included dinner crepes and red and green curries. In fact, most of the ingredients for the dishes come from the farm (finca), even the satisfying coffee! (Knowing Colombia is one of the coffee-growing areas of the world, it is quite disappointing to find out that the best coffee is exported and that Colombians drink what foreign roasters will not buy… Wanting the best for his guests, René grows and serves his own.)
Did I mention that they make fresh whole-grain bread daily? Their own jam? And cheese? Lest I forget, we bought milk that was fresh that day!
In deciding which activies to focus on, we relied on René’s knowledge and were very pleased with the outcome. Once, when we asked for his help, he refrained from telling us he was in the middle of his own dinner. A distant crash of crockery had him dashing back to his kitchen where he discovered that his cat had devoured his meat. Laughing, he said it was obviously meant to be a vegetarian meal that night. (We realized that we had been impolite; we had failed to ask whether it was a good moment for him to talk with us.)
El Maco is about a kilometer out of the town of St. Agustin, sited on a hilltop well removed from most automobile and motorcycle noise. We slept very well, awakened only one night by a thump that we realized was just the horse passing by our cabaña. We had a good laugh over that. Quite a difference from the 1 AM drone of a motorcycle when staying in town.
St. Agustin Archaeological Park is a “must see” in Colombia and the Finca Ecologica El Maco is located nearby the main part of the park. And just think: If you are not in the mood to cook your own dinner, there is a menu of excellent and varied choices. And tell René hello.