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Having heard constantly about the wonders of Columbia, and after a long overnight bus, it was a very welcome arrival to our first stop in the country.  Salento is a beautiful colonial town set amongst green rolling hills in Columbia’s coffee growing district.  Practically every building has been beautifully preserved and the colourful tall doorways, wooden shutter windows and small balconies provide a cosy old world atmosphere.

We spent our first morning wandering the streets, soaking up the atmosphere and sampling the local food. Beans made a welcome first appearance to make the rice side dishes more interesting and there were “arepas” (corn bread stuffed with fried egg, chicken or cheese) on every corner. Fried bananas also took precedence over the still ever present potato as a side to most meals. The real joy however was the ready availability of eggs and coffee for breakfast. The eggs were usually done “pericos” (scrambled and mixed with tomato and onion) and the coffee was usually ok (if not great) if you avoided anything involving milk. The locals usually drink the poor quality coffee beans in the country filtered through panella (sugary water) and the “tintos” are passable once you get used to the sweetness.

In the afternoon we went on a tour of a coffee farm which was owned by the couple who ran our hostel.  It was interesting to learn about the coffee making process which I had very little clue about previously, and explore the beautiful farm which also had many other plants. The Columbian coffee market works by rewarding large beans. This is a practical approach (as it is hard to assess the growing methods and quality of different beans at the market) but it is a bit of a shame as it encourages modern methods (which produce bigger beans and lower quality) over traditional methods. We also learnt plenty more but I’d prefer bore you over a beer so I can tell when your eyes glaze over.

The next day we took a collectivo to the Valle de Cocora. This is a gorgeous green valley which hosts an army of very tall wax palm trees (native to Columbia and can grow up to 60m tall) that leads into a cloud forest in the hills. We took a picnic lunch and went on a 4- hour hike through the valley and the forest stopping at a nature reserve where there were scores of colourful humming birds flitting about in the trees in their scatter-brained manner.  The weather was quite overcast and towards the end of the hike the valley filled with mist which made the wax palms appear all the more majestic and mysterious.  That night we headed to Bogota on an overnight bus, very satisfied with our first taste of the country.

 

 

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3 Comments

  1. how was the river birthday bash? Love to hear the latest, like where you are now? finally got my own blog on wordpress but still learing the ropes, nothing much to read just yet, but will let you know when there is. I hope the books kept you both entertained! Great news about the latest nobel lit award being a Peruvian! Cheeky you adam, having us find one of his books for the boat, you would have looked ahead of the game! Thanks for stopping by Lima was great to see you both!

  2. OOOO That palm photo is awesome dints!

  3. You guys are unstoppable now! The photos are fantastic and make us want to keep going further and longer. For us, tbe end has come, we are now in Nice looking forward to a reunion. See you soon,
    chlaure


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