A Travellerspoint blog

Salento, Day 5

I can´t help but count the days now...

sunny

Yesterday I went on a big 5 1/2 hike up a mountain in the Colombian cloud forest. Except for the little tumble that gave me a scraped elbow on a slippery steep bit, it couldn`t get any better - 5 hours in the rainforest!! It`s so gorgeous. I stopped at a little farm called Acaime, had some hot chocolate with cheese and took some pictures of the hummingbirds, then climbed up further to the mirador for a spectacular view of Cocora Valley, then headed back to town. What a good day. And I felt so energized afterward: it had been a while since I`d gone on a big hike.

Today I was gonna get up early to go to Bogotá, but I`ll get a later bus. When you`re travelling you don`t really distinguish one day of the week from another, but today definitely feels like a Sunday: lazy and relaxed, no rush for anything.

Posted by The Cat 09:06 Comments (2)

Salento, Day 3

Kiffy kaffy coffee in my mig mag mug...

rain

Salento is as nice as my first impression let on. I´m staying in a hostel called The Plantation House, the only gringo hostel in the area. It´s rather pricey, but I managed to score a half-room-upstairs-attic bed for a good price on the suggestion of one of the travellers who works there. It´s such a cool room! It´s like sleeping in a tree house or in one of those old rooms in my dad´s lodge, so I´m perfectly at home there. The people coming and going are all cool, too: there are some Americans, Canadians, and a few people from France, and Tim, the guy who runs the place with his Colombian wife, is English.

Apparently Salento has been a popular weekend vacation spot for Colombians for years, and only in the last 2 years since Tim opened the hostel have there been many foreign travellers, so it´s not too touristy yet and still has the authentic South American vibe.

Yesterday some friends from the hostel and I walked an hour down a gorgeous country road, past fields of cows, tall eucalyptus trees, bunches of big bamboo trees hanging over the road, and grand views of the lush green valley below, to a couple of organic coffee farms that give little tours of their property. The first one was bigger and most of the product from their 41000 coffee plants was for export; the second was a smaller farm run by a family who only sells their coffee in the local markets. Both were really interesting, and it was neat to walk around and see all the different coffee plants and learn how they harvest the beans, clean then dry them out, roast them, sometimes grind them, and sell them. At the end of each tour we drank some of their top quality coffee and I must say that, even though I´m not a coffee drinker, that cup was mighty good. At the smaller farm we actually roasted our own beans for 20 minutes over a fire, ground them in a little grinder, and made the coffee we drank.

Today it´s been raining again so I haven´t done anything. I´m actually in Armenia to get money use the internet (much faster here), and will head back to Salento in a couple hours with Brandon, the American guy whose been working at the hostel. Tomorrow I plan to do a bit more exploring in the valley nearby, but Sunday I´ll head further north. Gotta make it to the coast soon!

Posted by The Cat 11:12 Comments (0)

Salento, Day 1

What a wonderful place!

rain 15 °C

Yesterday I travelled allllllll freakin day to Popayán, Cali, and finally Armenia, at which I bunked up in a hotel across the street from the bus station in a dodgy part of town. The idea was to get to Salento, but I didn`t quite make it and wanted to sleep. This morning I travelled the last 40 minutes to Salento, another gorgeous little cowboy town about 6 hours southwest of Bogotá. It´s been raining hard all day so I haven´t been able to explore much, but I can tell it´s one of those towns that I´ll want to stay for longer than intended. It´s so beautiful and lush and full of horses and cowboys and pretty buildings, and the area is great for hikes and coffee farms tours and that kind of thing. The internet, however, is slow and expensive, so I won´t be on it too much while I´m here. I´m feeling better, by the way; not completely recovered, but definitely improving. Thanks to everyone who wrote their concerns. Until next time!

Posted by The Cat 14:30 Comments (0)

San Agustín, Day 2

argh

sunny

hey everyone, just writing to say all is well. i bought and took some rather harsh medicine yesterday but i still feel sick (i think it takes about 2 days to work), so i haven`t felt like writing much. san agustín is very nice. there are horses every two feet, in the roads, in the fields, with their owners, all alone... horses horses everywhere! i`m staying in a casa familiar, which is basically somebody`s house with extra rooms for guests, so it`s nice and tranquile. today i went to el parque archeologico, one of colombia`s most famous archaeological sites. it was very impressive and so so beautiful. i just wish i felt better so i could enjoy it more. what struck me more than the old sites, actually, was the weather - i DID get to experience the autumn season! the leaves were falling bright red and yellow there, the air and the wind smelled like fall, it`s gorgeous and though this place is another country and different and strange, it`s the closest to home i`ve seen so far. anyway i need to go back to my bed and rest. still waitin for the meds to kick in...

Posted by The Cat 12:44 Comments (1)

Popayán, Colombia, Day 1

Que increible los gentes de Colombia

sunny

Travelling to Colombia was a bit of a nightmare only because I am sick. I picked up some bug or parasite in Otavalo, have the worst digestive problems, and even though I´m hungry I can´t eat anything.

That aside though, I am so so excited to be here in a new country! A Colombian guy named Robinson who lives in Argentina was actually travelling across the border from Otavalo as well, so we shared taxis, waited in lines, and crossed together, saving us both some money. I was glad to have him there cuz Colombian money is waay different from any other country I´ve been to so far. The denominations are massive - ex. 1000 pesos = $0.50, 10 000 pesos = just over $5. It´ll take me a few days to get used to it and know how much I´m spending.

Getting to the border was no problem, but the line up was very long so we were there for about 2.5hours in the blistering sunlight. I had to sit down after a while cuz I felt like I was gonna pass out. The actual process was straightforward though and I had no problems leaving Ecuador and entering Colombia. Because we didn´t get there till the evening, however, and I didn´t want to waste time sleeping in the border town, I decided just to travel to Popayán on the next bus. Everyone I asked said there haven´t been any problems in the area recently, and I got to Popayán safely around 4.30am.

I waited around at the bus station for a while until it was light outside then took a taxi to a hotel, at which I slept for hours cuz I was so tired. Once I was up and moving, I explored the city, went to the Museum of Natural History, climbed a big hill for a fabulous lookout point, and had a delicious vegetarian meal for the equivalent of $1.50 that stayed in me for about an hour.

Now let me tell you just how much, in just a day, I love Colombia. The first three people I met in the country - a young guy at the cafe in the bus terminal, my taxi driver to the hotel, and a hotel clerk who directed me to a cheaper place - are the most friendly people I´ve met on the entire trip. The cafe server was this friendly, energetic, help-you-in-any-way type of guy. My taxi driver especially had the most unthreatening, kind manner: he waited with me at the hostel early in the morning until he knew I could get in ok, and when there were no rooms actually carried my backpack to the next hostel and waited with me there. I am immediately struck by how amazing the people are here.

The city itself, too, is absolutely stunning! The steets are lined with these massive white-washed colonial mansions that have been converted into storefronts or hotels or other businesses. And the vegetation! The trees in the plaza and in the parks are beautiful. I haven´t travelled very very far from Ecuador at this point, but it´s obvious I´m in a different country.

One thing I noticed today as I was walking the streets is that this is the first place I´ve been where everyone riding motorcycles actually wear helmets and reflective vests. Everywhere else I´ve been the bike laws have been very lax.

Anyway, as I don´t have much time left (I´m almost at the 5 month mark!!) I´ll be travelling to San Agustín tomorrow. I would love to explore Popayán some more, but I gotta move on.

Posted by The Cat 14:55 Comments (0)

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