Today is Sunday. I arrived in Salento on Friday afternoon. Its been a whirl wind few days.
Salento is a very small town in the heart of the coffee region. It is stunning here. The town is very touristy on the weekends for Colombians, and travellers. It reminds me of the gulf islands in many ways that it is touristy, artsy, and a hotbed for city dwellers to visit. Nonetheless, quaint, quiet, serene and in a lovely setting. The hostel I’m staying at is called plantation house. The owner is quite a character. Born British, raised in Australia. He lives here and owns this hostel and a non-certified organic coffee farm. There are daily tours to the coffee farm. I did one Saturday, it was very interesting. He does everything very traditionally, and organically. There is the option to ‘volunteer’ in the mornings to get an idea of what is done. Right now it is picking season. I may give this a try. The owner has some very interesting plans for his farm.
When I arrived I met a couple of girls who were sharing my dorm. They were great with information of what to do, and see in Salento. And where to eat. I also met a couple of girls at the coffee tour and we hung out on Saturday, touring the town, lunch, dinner, and played Tejo last night. A national game. You throw specifically shaped rocks at triangle shaped paper prices that have gun powder in the middle. http://www.colombia.travel/en/official-bloggers/entry/mike-ceaser/how-to-play-tejo. I hit it 3 times and was very proud. With beer and 5 others it was quite fun.
Today Hanna and I headed to Cocora located in PNN Los Nevados. You can do several hikes here. We chose the shorter one, but then couldn’t really figure out the path, so we meandered around for a short time. It is lovely there. I think I will go again and do it proper now that I’m clearer on directions. Things there aren’t to well signed. Very tall beautiful wax palms lovely views of the valley when you get to the top. The ride there is in jeeps called ‘willys’, very cool. Cram a bunch of people in an some stand on the back hanging onto the roof rack. Quite an experience. I was told to stand, at first I was like WTF, but it was the best ride and view. I needed a camera mount so I take photos. Read here http://seecolombia.travel/blog/2011/03/the-coffee-triangles-big-helper-willys/. And again I’ve burnt like a lobster.
A lot of travellers have left my hostel and a few new ones arriving. I was in my dorm alone last night and likely tonight too. The nights are cool here. There are many Colombians in Salento today. Cocora and Salento are very busy. There is a restaurant here known for it’s peanut butter brownies, called Brunch. Very good food. He’s an expat from Oregon. Very nice man. Very good brownies.
A few of the Colombians I’ve met here have lived or been educated in the states. I met one guy who was taken into gorilla army and escaped – he now works with families affected by the guerrillas in some way. He also guides in the mountains here in the salento area, medellin, etc. Nice guy. Surprisingly a number of Colombians speak English… in varying degrees. Today on our hike we met several families and they were very excited to see us and we had many pictures taken with them. Lovely lovely people here.
I’m not sure my next steps after Salento… I met a guy who arrived from medellin yesterday and he described a great experience. I need to get more info from him. He volunteered half days with very poor kids teaching them English, and like me he has no Spanish. You pay 75,000 cop and you can volunteer for as long as you like. 1 day to 6 months, the allowable time to stay in Colombia.
I’m certain I’ve left a few things out, and when remembered will note them. For now that’s all I got!
To my family, I love you and am safe.