|The country road|
The bus dropped us in the quaint main plaza and it wasn’t long before I had fallen in love with Salento. Narrow cobbled streets, artisanal shops and touristy buzz that filled the air. This wasn’t the Colombia I had known whilst being in Bogota, Cali or Armenia. A wander away from the town took us to our hostel, Yambolombia, 2 km away from the centre along a winding country road, amongst truly natural beauty with fresh Colombian air that our lungs had not yet experienced. Our two nights were to be Wi-Fi free and spent lying under a starlit sky. It never fails to amaze me how many infinite stars can be revealed when you take away the polluting, artificial light of man.
Before the stars arrived however, we seized the opportunity to visit a coffee finca nearby. Finca El Ocaso was located about an hour’s walk further along the winding country road. We had picked up a companion along the way who had been slowly riding his bike when we were walking to the hostel. After we left our stuff at the hostel he continued with us to the finca, pointing out all the fresh fruit that was falling off the trees, ready to eat. He left us at the gate to the finca and continued on his ride.
|Coffee plants and banana trees|
The finca gifted us with more spectacular views as we relaxed and waited for a tour. Our patience was rewarded with an incredibly knowledgeable guide as we were taken through the stages of coffee production, picked our own beans and were rewarded with a cup of coffee at the end (although without sugar and milk this was far too strong for me!). We became acquainted with the other few people on our tour and chatted together after the tour along with a tour guide that had been hired by a couple from Salento. He told us how he was going to continue their walk through the next village and back to Salento, inviting us to go with him. We accepted the invitation, convinced that the ‘guia touristica’ stitched into his shirt looked legit.
|The view Ocaso Finca|
Sometimes when you are travelling you look back on decisions and wonder what you were thinking at the time…
Off we went on our trail, a group of about 15 of us now, down to the river and across a bridge, following a path that was to take us to the next village of Boquia. Led by our guide, who was often found at the back of the group, we ended up needing to cross another bridge that looked incredibly unstable before he convinced us we could definitely walk back to Salento, contrary to the advice of our hostel who had told us to take a bus from Boquia. We were led up a narrow and steep path that got muddier and narrower as we went. It seemed never ending. The promised ten minutes to the top soon turned into half an hour and dusk began to fall. The man trudged on in his wellies as we scrambled and slipped up what resembled something of a mudslide only used for horses. It was difficult to supress a feeling of panic as any sign of human life seemed far away and darkness was coming. Then those horrible thoughts started to creep in…who is this man and where is he leading us? He could have people waiting at the top of the slope. What were we thinking!!! I thought I was about to cry when finally the path opened up in front of us and we found ourselves on the outskirts of Salento. At this point we had got quite a lead away from our ‘guide’ and we continued to hurry into the centre of town, covered in mud, in the hope of never seeing him again.
As my heart-rate slowly returned to normal speed we rewarded ourselves for surviving the ordeal with some famous trucha (trout) in ‘El Rincon de Lucy’ one of the most renowned, yet economic, restaurants in town. Sat in the corner, we made it just in time before all the food ran out.
By the time we had eaten it was well and truly dark, and the thought of walking back down the winding country road made me feel slightly uneasy. Luckily it wasn’t long until one of the “Willies” jeeps came along, and we clambered in the back and he took us back to our hostel. The stars welcomed us back and it wasn’t long before we were hitting the hay before our adventurous day that tomorrow would bring.