Yesterday was sadly my last day in the Salento area of Colombia and although I had drunk many cups of delicious java, I had yet to make it to one of the many working coffee farms or fincas in the area.
I was resolved to immediately fix this error in my ways so after a much-needed sleep-in after such an intense hike in the Cocora Valley, another good breakfast at La Serrana with several cups of kick starter coffee, I set off solo down the gravel road, letting my imagination play wild as I dreamed of Colombian guerrillas jumping out from the underbrush kidnapping me away for an unknown some of ransom.
The Zona Cafetera also known as the coffee axis or the coffee belt, just may be my version of heaven. Nice cool temps due to the elevation, slightly damp air and stunning vistas.. it actually reminded me of home in the Columbia River Gorge in late spring… and it is in a stable or safe area of Colombia as well with no guerrillas around these parts anymore.
It was a nice downhill walk with the same lush green views that my eyes have feasted on since I had arrived in Salento.
My planned destination for the day was Don Elias Coffee Farm which is a family run organic plantation 4km or about 40 minutes past La Serrana down into the Zona Cafetera Valley. They offered tours for 6000 COP which included a cup of coffee and a fresh banana.
I had apparently arrived just after a tour began so sat on one of the old couches outside the farm-house to wait for the next one…. and waited… and waited… and waited… for an hour…just me staring at banana trees, surrounded by five fighting dogs, and Don Elias’ wife who really enjoyed yelling at the dogs and then beating them with a shoe when they wouldn’t stop barking at each other.
Then, it began to rain. I’m not just talking a light drizzle… I was wearing a rain jacket and flip-flops so was prepared… I’m talking full-out rainforest monsoon. By this time the previous tour had just come back and were drinking their cup-o-joe’s and I was still sitting there waiting for the next tour to start still surrounded by the dog beater with too many pets.
After one hour and 30 minutes still watching the downpour, I was hungry, tired of the woman yelling, the dogs barking and lets just say I lost patience with the entire situation so trudged the hour back ALL up-hill in the pouring rain and into Salento, screw you coffee tour. My Balinese cat poop coffee tour will have to hold me over for now...
Back in Salento I appeared at El Rincon de Lucy looking like a drowned rat, but was kindly greeted by the restaurants proprietor and offered a chair anyway. The plan, was to eat the best value lunch in Salento, Lucy’s Almuerzo.
Almuerzo is a South America dining sensation…but I guess we can just dumb it down to what would be a US restaurant’s, “blue plate special”.
In the case of almuerzo from El Rincon de Lucy, $2 USD grabs you chicken soup, a choice of either a fillet of fried fresh trout or chorizo sausage, beans/lentils or green beans, fried plantains, buñuelos (similar to hushpuppies), rice, salad, ice tea… and a banana!
This was then followed by another great cup of coffee and cake at my go-to coffee place in Salento, Cafe Jesus Martin.
So there you have it, when life fails you… eat copious amounts of local food and several cups of tasty java and life is instantly better… and instead of looking like the drowned rat, I now look more like the happy fatted goat.
Today I departed Salento for my next destination via three buses… and experienced a full day of travel through some more amazing Colombian countryside.
I had a three hour break in between buses in the very busy town of Rio Sucio…
While not thrilled with a three hour break carrying all my luggage, this gave me the opportunity for another almuerzo lunch.
This time the almuerzo consisted of a fish soup which I could tell was made from a home-made fish stock, more fried fish (trout is this region’s specialtiy), some pasta, white rice, an arepa, a fried banana, cole slaw and ice tea… again for $2
Have I said yet that the great thing about eating almuerzo for lunch is I pretty much don’t have to eat again the rest of the day? Amazing.
Oh yes, I also spotted my first CHIVAS in Rio Sucio! There are statues of these buses in every trinket shop in Colombia but I had yet to see one in person, but in Rio Sucio there were several…
Chivas are rustic artisan colorfully painted buses used in rural areas of Ecuador and Colombia and I’m in love with them. I want one. Don’t ask me what I’d do with it as I’m homeless but they’re pretty rad.
I’m hopping to see one in the coming days filled with agricultural products, moustached gauchos and poncho wearing people on the roof as well…. then my travel life might just be complete.
Just kidding. We’re only just getting started 😉