As the semester is coming to an end, my roommate Anne and I are on a mission to see and do as many things as possible. Recently, we convinced another exchange friend Lukas to join us on a short but sweet trip to Salento, famous for the amazing coffee plantations and cocora valley.
We took an overnight bus to Armenia after class on the Thursday night, which was definitely the most comfortable bus I’ve ever been on. With a TV screen for each passenger and complimentary headphones, I curled up in my poncho and watched a random Spanish version of Peter Pan. We didn’t spend much time in Armenia, simply hopped off one bus only to get on another to Salento. But from the bus window, Armenia seemed to be a peaceful town that was small enough where everyone could know everyone.
We reached Salento around 9AM Friday morning and immediately sought out a breakfast joint. We came across a local restaurant in the town square with a complete breakfast meal for only 8,000COP aka approximately $4 CAD. Salento was a beautiful town with coloured buildings, lots of green, an abundance of craft shops. The people here also seemed to be so happy. Life just seemed so easy and laid back here.
We checked into our hostel, which gave us our own private cabin, complete with bunkbeds (my favourite) and a random cat. We then ventured out to the square again where we hopped on a willy (this is a jeep people) and rode out to the Corcora Valley. The drivers like to jam pack as many people into the willies as possible, so a few guys were hanging on the back. I don’t believe safety regulations exist in some areas down here.
The Cocora Valley was absolutely breathtaking. It features mountains, rivers, flowers, cows and of course, the worlds tallest palm trees. We trekked the standard 6-hour throughout the jungle and became one with nature. And when I say ‘one with nature,’ I mean that I fell in the mud and walked into a tree. Yup. The overall weather was terrible and we came out of the jungle soaked from the rain and crossing through rivers, as well as covered in mud. But despite the conditions, it was definitely all worth it.
That night we took a strong dinner recommendation from the gentleman who works at the hostel and from now on, I will definitely be seeking hostel recommendations versus TripAdvisor (Sorry Little J if you’re reading this, I still love you!). The young woman that ran the restaurant was a phenomenal cook and artist. While the location was small, with only three tables. She had managed to squeeze a desk in the corner for her paintings and shelves for her jewellery.
On Saturday we attempted to be a stereotypical Colombian in Salento by riding horses to a coffee plantation. Annes horse was incredibly lazy, Lukas’ horse liked to be the leader and my horse fell somewhere in the middle. Not only did we travel down steep stairs and hills, but we also trekked through rivers and up a rocking mountain (this was where I fell off the horse, but we’re all good).
We later hopped on a bus to Pereira, another small town where we were catching our flights back to Bogotá that night. The city was beautiful, mostly developed, with a lot of community centres, one of which we parked our bums for a few hours to watch a soccer game. That night we went to an Argentinian steak house for a well deserved steak dinner. Why the restaurant even allowed us to enter building is still a surprise to us as we were covered in mud and still quite damp from the rivers earlier that day. But regardless, the service was excellent and it was the perfect end to our weekend.