After my journey into the jungle, I flew back to Bogota for one more night, before heading out to the coffee region of the country.
I was greeted by a friendly British girl in my dorm room named Kirsten, and we set off to explore La Candelaria a bit; we went to the Botero Museum, had fun posing with some of his brilliant portraits, and then went to a bar nearby which was excellent. It was located in a small plaza where loads of people were chilling out, playing music, drinking, and smoking. The bar was tiny and rustic, it was super cute.
The reason for my night out was to meet up with a travel blogger, whose blog I have been reading for a few years now. Dani writes a blog called Globetrotter Girls, and coincidentally we were/are traveling through Colombia at the same time, and happened to be in Bogota at the same time as well! It was so cool to meet her in person and chat about our travels.
After a great last night in Bogota, I hopped on a quick flight to Armenia, one of the cities part of Colombia’s coffee region. The moment our plane started descending, I felt my heart grow a few sizes; I was in complete awe of the beauty of the region. Lush, green mountains as far as you can see. Green plants of all sizes are speckled with colorful flowers, and you see the life of Colombians living in this area; cowboys riding horses or pulling mules and people selling food out of tiny food stands on the sides of the streets. The scenery was exactly how I pictured Colombia to be like in my mind, it was so classic and picturesque.
I took about an hour car ride from Armenia to Salento, a tiny cowboy town where I spent the majority of my time in coffee county. The town is excellent! Very small, hilly roads, and people passing by on horses frequently.
I ended up staying at an eco farm/hostel which was about a 20 minute walk from town. This place was really special. It felt like staying at a person’s guesthouse/hacienda more than a hostel, and the people I met during my time there were fabulous.
My first day I took it easy, wandered around town a bit, and just sat around my hostel and took in all of the beauty. My second day was a lot more active; I hopped in a jeep with several people I met at my hostel and we headed out for Cocora Valley to do some hiking and see the wax palms, which are Colombia’s national tree.
The hike was great, but challenging in the heat. The views were beautiful, though. About an hour or two into our hike, we made our way to a little sanctuary where humming birds fly all over the place and you can grab a refreshment. The refreshment? Chocolate con queso! And interesting combination of hot chocolate served with a side of cheese. Colombians like to dip the cheese in the chocolate, let it soak a bit, and then eat it. Strange, yeah? But it wasn’t bad! On my way up to the sanctuary, I was hot, sweaty, and tired, and I thought to myself that the last thing in the world that I want right now is some hot chocolate. But, it really did help give me a boost and gave me a second wind to complete my hike.
We eventually made our way to the valley to see all of the wax palms, and they were gorgeous. The sun was setting just as we we were finishing, and we were greeted with some spectacular views, with the mountains and palm trees becoming gorgeous silhouettes against the colorful sky.
The following day, I had intended on going horseback riding, but my day took a different route. As I was relaxing in the morning, Thomas, a German guy who I hiked with the day before, told me he was chilling with some people outside. I ventured out to join, and there sat Alex, a guy from LA, and James, an Aussie. We were just shooting the shit, and naturally the conversation shifted to politics. We all had lively chats about each of our countries’ history, culture, and political systems. Along the way, someone moseyed to reception to grab a bottle of wine, and somehow, suddenly, the sun was setting with about a dozen empty bottles of wine at our feet.
We had several people join us during our little chat, and it was really neat to watch our circle expand and contact over the hours.
The next morning, I woke up miraculously hangover free, and determined to have a more active day, other than walking to and from reception to buy wine.
I took a coffee tour at a nearby finca, which was 100% organic. The clever and simple ways the farm can remain organic was really fascinating.
After our coffee tour, a group of us went horseback riding which was incredible!! My horse, Corozzo, was a beast. He was able to navigate really steep, muddy, rocky, narrow paths, and when we had open land, he really likes to gallop. Horseback riding in Salento was absolutely gorgeous, and it made me feel like an actual cowboy (cowgirl?). I had been horseback riding before, but only on a farm, so this was my first time riding through the mountains.
We made our way to a stream with a waterfall, which was FREEZING, but we decided to swim for a moment anyways. After our swim, we made our way to a little restaurant for a beer and some patacones con queso; fried plantains mashed into chips and then topped with cheese, so good!
After we galloped back to our hostel (I think our horses were ready to get rid of us), we all had dinner again at the farm’s restaurant, which might have been the best meal I’ve had in Colombia so far; BBQ pork and chicken with coleslaw and an amazing spicy mango sauce. It was a really lovely dinner, at that point a large group of us had become quite close, and it felt like a big family dinner.
We then started a bonfire, and spent the rest of the evening chatting and drinking wine around the fire. It was a perfect day, beginning to end.
It was so hard to pack my bags and leave Salento. Every day was eventful, yet relaxing. And the views never got old. I could have stayed at the farm/hostel for months. But I had another stop in the coffee country before I got back to city life in Medellin.
I’ll write about my quick but relaxing time in Manizales, and then about the fascinating city of Medellin in my next post…
It’s hard to believe my trip is winding down. Every day has been a new adventure, and now that Salento is behind me, I can safely say that those days spent in that small town were some of the best days of my life.