June 28, 2011

A Weekend in Salento with Anna

When Anna came to visit me in Colombia, I wanted to give her a chance to see as much of this wonderfully diverse country as possible. Our plan included included time in the city of Cali, where I live, a weekend in the coffee region in the little town of Salento, and a kayaking adventure to the Pacific Coast.

After all the craziness of the end of the year we packed our bags for the quiet mountain town of Salento. Highly recommended to me by co-workers, I knew this would be a great first trip to make with Anna. The bus ride to Pereira (which normally takes three hours) for some reason took five hours on this particular day, but after locating a connecting bus to Salento we settled in at La Serrana Hostel around 6 PM.

Looking down the main street for artisan shopping of the main plaza in Salento.

The main form of transportation around Salento - jeeps!

Located a short 10-15 minute walk outside Salento, La Serrana is a gorgeous eco-hostel with an on-site family style restaurant, friendly common areas and great information about the area. We settled in for some fantastic veggie burgers on Friday night, met a few of the other guests, and called it an early night before our hike in Valle de Cocora the following morning!

Outside the main gate to La Serrana.

Family-style dining area. Enjoying some eggs & toast for breakfast with fresh squeezed OJ!

I am down to stay anyplace that save wine bottles and corks for decoration.

Post-hike we gathered our energy to browse the shops in town. Salento is known for great artisan shopping and we definitely took advantage! I found a great painting in purple-ish hues of the Valle de Cocora, Anna bought a lamp and we both snagged a few pairs of earrings! We made it to dinner with our remaining pesos and sat down for a traditional Colombian meal that included patacones (fried plantains), chicken, rice and wine. Our post-dinner entertainment took us back to the main plaza to watch the championship game for La Liga, the Colombian soccer league. As I told Anna, you really haven't lived until you have watched Colombians watch soccer, and this game didn't disappoint! They just get so into the game and I had as much fun watching the people around me as I did watching the game!

Shopping street.

A delicious dinner starting with wine and patacones.

Anna with her new lamp!

On Sunday we finished the weekend with a trip to a local family coffee farm run by the most adorable 75 year old man ever, named Don Elias. We walked to his farm, about 45 minutes downhill from La Serrana, and he gave us a tour. This was my second coffee tour in Colombia (the other one was near Manizales), but I still learned lots of new info from Don Elias and throughly enjoyed the cup of home grown, home brewed, organic coffee he gave me at the end! I even bought some to take home to Kelsi and to my dad. Delicious!

Welcome to the coffee farm of Don Elias.

Anna follows Don Elias on the tour.

Drying out the coffee beans to prepare for roasting.

Our handsome tour guide!

With the weekend coming to an end we headed back to Cali to un-pack and re-pack for the next adventure!

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