Saturday, September 25, 2010

Colombia - Salento - Valle de Cocora

After Medellin, we headed south to a small town called Salento, which is in the coffee growing region, and finally had some nice coffee.  Surprisingly, most Colombians like really weak, watery coffee.  The town was really beautiful.
There were some really great bars in this town, two that we went to played old vintage records from the huge collections they had behind the bar.  They didn't seem to like turning on the lights either for some reason.
From Salento, we went on a spectacular five hour walk through the Cocora Valley, which was about thirty minutes outside the town.  The first part of the trail went through a peaceful cloud forest crossing slippy log bridges along the way, then on to a farm where you can see lots of hummingbirds and then through the awe-inspiring wax palm valley.  Supposedly there are pumas, sloths, snakes and spectacled bears in the forest but we weren't lucky enough to see any. Got a lift in the jeep below, on the way back this guy squashed 15 people in, two sitting on top and three hanging off the back.

At the farm we were given a snack of Agua de Panela con queso; hot water with sugar cane in it, served with a chunk of salty squeaky cheese.  Nicer than it sounds.
Then the Wax Palms, the national tree of Colombia and the tallest growing palm tree in the world.

Here's Brian standing beside one, bottom left.
The soliders protecting us... and then lunch of the local speciality - trucha - trout, served on patacons, which are made of mashed up green plantains that are rolled flat and deep fried. The colourful tablecloths are a delight to behold in most Colombian restaurants.

The next day we went on another long walk, this time to visit an organic coffee farm run by a lovely old farmer called Don Elias, his grandson works with him and gave us a tour.  The farmers get so little money from selling their coffee that they have to turn to tourism to make any money.  It was really interesting and personal being brought into their home, and they didn't have a word of English either so we were proud of ourselves for getting by with our basic Spanish.  A friendly dog from the town decided to come with us for the whole four hour walk.

Bananas are grown in among the coffee plants to protect them from the sun and also to fertilize the soil organically.  Don Elias also grows oranges, limes, avocados, sugar cane, pineapple and some vegetables.
Here's our guide grinding the roasted coffee beans for us to have a taste.  In the background a girl was washing the clothes with a washboard.
 And the pig farm next door...
Some more pictures from the last days in Medellin....almost everywhere we go we see people absolutely engrosed in ridiculously dramatic telenovelas, this is in the bus station in Medellin...
 Aquarium in the Parque Explora...

Bandaja Paisa: a common Colombian dish, served with slight variations but this one had; beans, chips, chicken breast, a sausage, a fried egg, an arepa, fried plantain, massive pork rind, a little bit of salad and half an avocado.
 And Mondongo; an unpleasant chicken soup served with rice, salad and an arepa.
The tallest building in Medellin was designed to look like a needle to show the importance of the textile industry to the city.

1 comment:

  1. Looks like your hav'n such a good banter guys!
    Keep the blog rolling..A most enjoyable way to skive off in work!!