Salento

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.

Ciao. C.

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16 thoughts on “Salento

  1. Okay. Sounds like heaps of fun. I personally like the coffee plantation thingy! Picking beans is hard work, so I’ve read. And paid pennies per day Mr. Starbucks! Burnt again. I have snow again. Want to trade? Be safe. Thanks for the update. Fun for all.

    • Shawna, you would love Tim’s tour. I though of you throughout it. He was so informative . He plans to sell coffee plots via internet to people and you decide how you want them ‘raised’. They will then grow and harvest, and send you the coffee. Keep an eye on his website for more on that. Quite a cool idea really. It’s a Labour intensive process what he does here, and what he described takes place in some outfits around who want to keep the ‘corporate’ out of the process. All very traditional old school ways of doing it.

  2. Hi Cher,

    Sure glad to hear form you and to hear how much fun you are having, as well as you are safe. It sounds like you are really enjoying your trip and meeting some wonderful people. I am so happy for you. Keep on traveling and having fun. Say safe. We are leaving home on Tuesday so I will follow you on my phone.

    Loads of love from Mum and Dad

  3. Hi Dear;

    Nice to hear from you again and that you are safe and having what sounds like a ton of fun. I enjoyed hearing/reading about the Willys, which historically was the predecessor company to manufacture the Jeep vehicles. During World War II, they won the contract with the US government to manufacture vehicles for the army and there were scads of them produced. Much of this surplus after the war obviously went to Columbia and it sounds like they are still being made there under that name. This is interesting since I understood that Chrysler bought Willys/Jeep years ago and had exclusive right to the brand. I don’t know if you remember grandpa B’s red cab-over truck that he had when you kids were small, but that was a Willys of a different style.

    Anyway; Love you, take care, and keep these wonderfully informative posts coming.

    Dad.

    • Hi dad! Yes I remember grandpa’s truck. Do you have photos of it? The willys here are like the old cars in Cuba… they are original and worked on… some have been restored properly, most of them not.

      Wishing you and mom a great time on your trip. I look forward to seeing you in June. Happy early anniversary wishes. Love and hugs to you both.

  4. Sounds like a great time. Try the coffee picking – could be cool. Thanks for the updates – we’re all nervous-Nellies at heart! Love you too.

    • Hi Shelley. It’s been a much richer experience since leaving Bogota. I didn’t do the coffee picking as I did a really cool forest tour today, and leaving for medellin on Tuesday. Travelling with 3 young Irish folks on the bus then we’ll separate. More on that later.

  5. sounds like you are have a great learning experience! Your blog is written so well that you should consider being a travel writer…glad you are safe…xxoo

    Heather

  6. Cher,

    Dad bought an app today for $1.99 to convert spanish into english and visa versa. It is just what we need. Maybe you could do the same. Love you and love to hear from you too.

    Mum

  7. Hey C.
    Happy you are safe and having fun. Great blog! I’ll book cheap rooms and we can co-write 🙂 Sounds like a plan. I’m looking into booking Greece and Turkey as I type.
    Enjoy the rest of your journey. Can’t wait to read more.
    xo
    k

  8. Hi Dear;

    We love your blog updates. Our own update is that we are in Cozumel now at the Occidental Grand. All is well and we are trying to get used to the heat and humidity.

    Love you.

    • Hey. Great to hear from you. I am now in Jardin, Colombia. Staying at the Hotel Valdivia Plaza. It is 30,000 cop tonight and 58,0000 cop Friday and Saturday nights. Still inexpensive considering that is 15 and 29 USD respectively! And my VISA is being accepted. It is humid here to. Plus altitude. My bus trip was good, I took a quarter gravol, amazing.

      Love you, xo

      • Hi Dear;

        Nice to hear from you again. Mom and I are getting adjusted and plan to go into town tomorrow.
        I
        Met a fellow here who said Cartagena is a must to visit; particularly, the mud-volcano and mud bath. Check it out. More later.

        Love Mom and Dad.

      • I heard Cartegna is a must, but I couldn’t bring myself to see another city… its very different here from being in Europe or other cities I’ve visited. Even these smaller places can get mobbed. Cartegna requires a plane ride vs bus. Depending on where you are it is lengthy. From Medellin it would be 16 hours!! Barf! Another trip would be best to start at the top and come down I think.

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