We left Medellin on a bus headed to Salento that was supposed to take 5 hours. Almost 8 hours later and we reached our destination. It turns out the roads in Colombia are not built for speed; they are winding, run through mountains and are currently ALL in the process of being dug up. Luckily, the bus was one of the more luxurious options – we had a toilet, a tv each and 15 English films to choose from. From the moment we reached Salento, we loved it. It was quiet, safe and vibrant. Our hostel provided us with a lovely private room and what felt like our own little kitchen! We dropped off our bags and went to explore. We wandered down streets full of artesenal shops and bars crowded even on a Wednesday night. Instantly we loved the feel of the place. We stumbled upon a place for dinner called Brunch and enjoyed a burger and veggie chilli followed by a delicious peanut butter brownie. The place was cool and the food was great.
The next day we woke up bright and early to do the Valle de Cocora trek and see the tallest palm trees in the world. I won’t lie, the trek was hard. We walked (climbed) through forests, waterfalls, rocks and other difficult terrain. I slipped numerous times and almost fell face first in mud. It also involved walking uphill solidly for an hour. I did not enjoy that part. We stopped at a farm half-way to try hot chocolate with cheese (yes, that’s a thing in Colombia) and see some amazing hummingbirds. The trek ended in the valley itself and we saw the most enormous palm trees – they were very impressive. Then we travelled back to town, enjoyed some instant mac and cheese from a packet and zonked out, absolutely shattered.
Our second day involved visiting a coffee farm, learning how it is grown and harvested and then tasting it. We chose El Ocaso Finca and loved picking our own coffee beans and seeing the process of coffee-making. It was interesting to learn that most Colombians actually drink second-class coffee because the country cannot afford to buy the high-quality coffee back after exporting it. Colombia might grow some of the best coffee in the world but it certainly doesn’t drink much of it. On the way back to town we rode on the back of a Jeep (standing) and held on for dear life. Then we cooked ourselves a gourmet meal of – you guessed it – instant noodles.
The last day in Salento was very quiet and we spent most of the day in bed recovering. Later in the day we played cards over a few beers and then went to try out a typical Colombian game called Tejo. We found a bar nearby and ordered 2 beers. The game itself involved throwing heavy metal discs at a ring surrounded by explosive packets. The aim was to make the biggest explosion possible. It was both terrifying and exhilarating. To treat ourselves we then went for our last meal in Salento – at Brunch again (we are definitely creatures of habit).
In the end we were really sad to be leaving Salento and could have spent much longer here. It was the most relaxed I’d personally felt through all of our travels so far. Maybe I’m starting to actually enjoy travelling. We’ll see…