Elissa and Chris's Latin American misadventures.... travel blog

Salento town




Dried coffee beans

Banana trees are planted to shade coffee trees

Jesus and his coffee

Don Elias- local coffee farmer

Tasting coffee freshly ground at Don Elias´

Cocora Valley wax palms






After relaxing in Tayrona Park we headed back by bus to the town of Taganga, about an hour and a half away, to stay for a couple of days to scuba dive off the reef. Unfortunately, the night before we were booked in to dive, we had few too many rum and cokes and I managed to stack it big time on the walk home. Sadly I was carrying three massive water bottles so unable to do any fancy rolls off the road, ripped the top off one of my toes and cut up on of my knees pretty deeply (only one though!). Chris did a great nurse job on my leg, using our medical kit for the first time. However I was in no shape for diving so sadly we never saw the reef, and luckily had only paid a small deposit.

The next few days (and indeed most of the last week now) were spent hobbling around Taganga, being given medical care on my knee by friendly shopkeepers, and then Cartagena as we booked flights to a town called Salento in the Zona Cafetera. After a few weeks on the Carribean coast we were looking forward to a change of scenery as we had based our time in Colombia solely in the north and, in hindsight, missed a lot of great places in southern Colombia.

We had been recommended to visit Salento, a small town in the rolling green hills of the coffee area which turned out to be fantastic with locals wandering around in cowboy hats and gumboots. We did three different coffee tours, one from the English guy who ran our hostel and had recently bought a finca, one from a Colombian guy called Jesus who ran a coffee shop and made premium coffee (way too pricey for most Colombians!) and the last from a 60-odd year old Campesino (country) man who had been coffee farming all his life. They were all ridiculously cheap (less than 2 quid each) but really interesting, although admittedly my Spanish was not up to that of the Campesino farmer who I understood perhaps one in every ten words. Helpfully someone else spoke Spanish so we hassled them for translations. You would think after seven months here we might be better with the language but I seem to be regressing in my Spanish with each week (or possibly just laziness knowing our trip will be ver in less than three weeks).

Salento is also close to the Cocora Valley which is home to the Colombian national symbol, the wax palm which can grow to around 30m tall, and some of the biggest cows I´ve seen. Amazing scenery and helpfully the change of climate from sweaty Carribean coast to cooler areas had progressed my knee from a pussy mess to something I was able to walk on for six hours through the valley.

It was really interesting to see another side of Colombia - while touristy, Salento is more orientated at local tourism and doesn´t seem to have progressed to the level on the coast where prices seem to change according to how uch the locals think they can get from you - this seems to apply even for things like bottles of water from the same shop!! Frustrating.

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