Salento - Coffee and Converse


When we arrived in the small town of Salento after a 5 hour bus ride from Medellin we thought it would be fairly easy to find the hostel. We asked for directions and was pointed to a street across the square. Walking down the street there was no sign of the hostel. We asked again. Got pointed in another direction. Off we trotted. No sign, asked again, got given different directions! After 3 or 4 more attempts we phoned the hostel and the owner came and met us at the square. 


After checking in we decided to squeeze in a coffee tour. Salento is famous for being part of the Zone Cafeterra, the coffee region. We got a jeep to the original coffee farm but they didn't do tours in English. Not a day for things going smoothly! The jeep driver drove us to another farm and we did the tour there. It was really interesting. They make some of the best coffee in Colombia and it's all organic. They can't use machines so everything is done by hand. We were shown how the beans were picked, dried, roasted and I even got to ground up some beans myself. They explained to us why they had different trees and plants there, like banana, avocado and orange trees as well as a pineapple bush. Yes, a pineapple bush. It's a strange sight. Afterwards we got a hot cup of black coffee. 


One of the guys that worked at the farm got chatting to us and telling us about a good restaurant to visit and a traditional game played in Salento. He rode with us back to the town and showed us that you can stand on the back of the jeep for better views. Then we went to a place called Lucy's to eat. First course was soup and a banana. You slice up the banana and put it in the soup. I wasn't convinced but it was actually really delicious. We also got a main course of fish and a drink of sugarcane, all for 6000 pesos (£1.80).


Tejo involves a mud-clay board that has a metal ring in the middle with 4 triangles around. You have a rounded stone weight which you throw at the board. If you hit one of the triangles it explodes. Beer, throwing things and gunpowder. Obviously it was a good night. 


We got up at 6.30am to do a trek in Valle de Cocora. I underestimated how much of a trek it actually was. We followed a very muddy path across fields surrounded by lush green hills, up through the forest past gushing streams, across rickety wooden plank bridges, stepping stones and bamboo bridges until we got to the hummingbird sanctuary. Here we had a hot cup of sugarcane with a hunk of cheese on the side. I won't go into how bad my feet were but going in Converse was an incredibly bad idea. We reached the top of the Cocora Trail, looking out over the mountains topped with fog, palm trees soaring into the sky. At the top we met another group and walked slowly back down with them. Back at the town we went for food then I pretty much just curled up in bed with my book as I was in a lot of pain with my feet. 


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