Amaga isn’t exactly a tourist destination, but a poster in the small town’s library nicely showcases its sitios “turisticos” – but really that should be singular, as in there is only one site. The Viaducto is locally renowned, and a seemingly popular pastime for Amaganians. Other sitios turisticos that should be included on that poster, but aren’t, include the town’s several coal mines, the brick factory and maybe the Virgin Mary statue with an iPhone cover in her hand.

I didn’t know the Spanish word viaducto – and the English translation is essentially the same: viaduct – but the library’s poster depicted a train track traversing a steep and jungle-covered ravine. Seemed to fit with the working class vibe of Amaga. On Monday our group amassed itself after breakfast and managed to set out to the viaducto nice and early, trying to make some headway on our 4-hour walk before the sun picked up steam.

Essentially “going to the viducto” means you walk the length of an old railway path that was first constructed in the 1920s to haul coal from the mines hiding in Amaga’s backwoods. Flash forward about 100 years and that former railway is now a flat footpath that leads to strategically placed homes, abandoned train tunnels and an improbable-looking restaurant that sells the best fried pastry balls in all of Colombia. I think it’s actually someone’s house, but it happens to double as a restaurant. There’s one woman who runs the (or her) kitchen and she serves two items: mazamorra (cold milk with cornmeal and corn kernels) and aborrajados, which are fried banana bread balls stuffed with cheese and guava jam. They’re amazing. We ate four of them. Plus they’re the perfect mid-hike snack.

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Though I shouldn’t call it a “hike” because it was entirely flat, and we basically cut through neighborhoods that have sprung up around the trail. But the sight of the old tracks floating over several huge ravines was definitely a reminder of the viaducto’s former glory. Although crossing these gorges on the viducto’s vestiges was be a bit scary, though not so much for the locals.

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As our pack of gringos scuttled across the archeological remains of Amaga’s train system, hooting and hollering and oh-my-god-ing, women from the surrounding neighborhood impatiently waited for their chance to pass us. They hardly made a peep. I think I was too preoccupied taking selfies on the tracks to even notice other people actually use the path to walk places.

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February 18, 2014