•Viva Colombia! II •

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Cali

On Wednesday (Oct 12) the three of us (Nicole & us) jumped in a bus direction Santiago de Cali (south of Colombia). This city is famous for its Salsa culture but doesn’t attract so many travelers. Yet, tourism industry isn’t really set up which we had to experience first hand: when we arrive at the hostel that we’d booked the day before nobody opened the door for us – it was dark and no one around. After a while the owner appeared and was quite surprised to see customers.

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•Viva Colombia!•

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Medellín

After a rough 14-hours trip we finally reached Medellín around 1am in the night. Luckily Martin & Lucia from the “Secret Buddha Hostel” were waiting for us and took us straight to their lovely hostel. The next morning Nicole (a friend from Hamburg) joined us and we had a deluxe breakfast: Muesli with fresh fruits, mint and cinnamon & a huge veggie-omelet.

 

As it was raining all day we felt obliged to chill ;-) and so we spent the whole day relaxing in the hammocks chatting and reading – just doing nothing! During the following days we discovered Medellín (second largest city of Colombia): there’s a very modern metro system (with a cable railway), a botanic garden and many stories about the wild years of drug smuggling when “El Patrón” (Pablo Escobar) ruled the international drug scene. He is also buried in Medellín. All in all it’s a well-developed city nowadays.

 

We had so much fun together but after four relaxing days in Medellín (and a delicious meal at “Crêpes & Waffles” – yummy!) we hit the road down south to the famous Colombian coffee zone (Oct 9).

 

HERE you can see the pictures from Medellín!

 

 

Salento

After another 7 hours on a bus (via Armenia) we reached Salento – a small town with approx. 4,000 inhabitants. It’s a must-do because it’s directly located in the main coffee growing region of Colombia where the tallest palms in the world can be found – the wax palm (up to 60 mts high and 100 years old).

 

We pitched our camp in the eco farm “La Serrena“ from where we did a tour to the nearby ecological coffee plantation “Don Elias” the next day (Oct 10). Before we went there we got to know Tessa a likeminded traveler (from Wellington, NZ) who then spontaneously joined us three.

 

When we arrived at the coffee farm, Don Elias (owner of the coffee plantation) was out of town and so his daughter Natalia took over guiding us through the farm. Beside the various kinds of coffee plants (Barrio de Colombia, Arabica, etc) they also grow different kinds of fruits – a real Garden of Eden. We got to know everything: the way how they cultivate, harvest and process the coffee… simply everything! And in the end we enjoyed a freshly brewed, local coffee and pineapple ice cream – yummy!

 

But the real highlight was still to come: during the coffee klatsch Natalia (our guide) started telling us that she’s a musician and suddenly she digged out a 2x2m tall poster with herself on it and we couldn’t keep her from giving us a taste of her singing! After a vociferous a cappella song she disappeared in the living room where her younger brother was trying to ignore her singing while watching TV. Suddenly she jumped out of that room and the Hifi system was blasting extremely loud music (instrumental) and started sing again – even more passionate (louder!) than before! From local singers to Shakira… she gave us a performance of all of them! We couldn’t stop laughing! Finally we spent more time on her porch, enjoying the private concert than learning about coffee. As a farewell present she signed autographs on the posters she had given us hours ago and we waved goodbye. And we’d like to highlight that she doesn’t sing for anybody – only for those she likes! ;-)

 

On Oct 11 we (Andrew (USA), Tessa (NZ), Nicole & us)  decided to take a Jeep to the „Valle de Cocora“ – the region where the world famous wax palms can be found. Hiking would’ve been too lame so we decided to ride through the cloud and tropical forest on horses. Over hedge and ditch, through rivers and a lush green jungle… it was amazing! This time the horses behaved (not like in Cuzco) ;-) and after 2 hours we got off and climbed a hill in order to have a drink at the natural reserve Acaime. Humming birds were flying around our heads and pure nature surrounded us!

 

From there we hiked about 2km uphill along muddy tracks through deep forest and it already started to get dark when we reached the peak “La Montana” (2860m). Five kilometers further down we then saw the impressive wax palms rising in the sky – straight like flagpole and huge palm leaves at the top … so beautiful! Twilight set in and still there was no proper road in sight – we hurried down the muddy path as fast as we could. It didn’t help: it got dark and we had no clue how to get back to Salento (15 km). But destiny decided that a friendly local dude gave us a life on the back of his truck and so we reached the eco farm just in time for dinner (Mexican food). What an awesome day!

 

HERE you can see the pictures from Salento!