|Valleys surrounding Salento|
We checked into our room. Both of us were exhausted! We dropped our bags and fell onto our beds. I was cold and crawled under the fantastic thick blankets. I could stay here the rest of the day. I knew we should go explore but I was cold and tired. Then, I heard run hitting the roof. Yes! A perfect afternoon to curl up in bed and read...until the rain stopped. That is what we did!
As we both were reading our books and listening to the rain storm, we heard a child screaming. We looked at each other hoping it would stop. It didn't. I got up and went to see what was going on. It was this guy.
Mombocho sounded like a child. Martha took a sheet and covered him to get him to stop. She warned us to keep our hands away from his mouth- he was a biter!
When the rain stopped we went to explore Salento. Well, we actually wanted something to eat too! Salento is a paradise suspended in time. As we walked to the main square, we passed cowboys on horses, men wearing ponchos and homes and businesses with doors and windows painted colorfully. I fell in love with this quaint town immediately. It was peaceful and the surroundings were breathtaking. I mean literally! I was not use to the altitude and the hills were quickly taking my breath away. We walked up the steep hill to the main square and had dinner. Then we walked the Main Street past the artisan shops. Ponchos were for sale at each place and Chantal was in heaven. She had been looking for one since I met her in Nicaragua. Finally!
Now she had to choose one! Oops! Silly me! Why stop at one when there are so many beautiful ones! (Needless to say, there was a significant amount of shopping that happened in Salento!) We didn't buy anything but went back to our hotel to think about it over night.
We had planned to stay in Salento for 3 days, then added another night each day until we were here for a week. Martha laughed each time I went to tell her I was staying one more night. She told me I could stay forever. Then I realized this was a perfect town to settle in for a month and started asking around about an apartment to rent. We happened to be at Brunch (owned by a guy, Jeff, from Bend, OR) who has a fantastic western menu with homemade peanut butter. Mmmm! Brunch staff are fantastic at giving you things to do in Salento and the surrounding area. We became frequent customers, the free movie library was great after a morning of hiking and during the afternoon rainstorm! One day, we were asking about things to do and I mentioned I would like to stay for a month. Jeff arranged for me to meet another American couple that had rented a place and were leaving soon. Within 2 hours Art and Lynne introduced me to a Spanish teacher and she contacted their landlord to assist me with renting the place. I found a fantastic 2 bedroom/2 bathroom cabin with a kitchen and washing machine for $250/month! I was ecstatic. We made arrangements for me to take ownership on the 20th when I returned from Medellin.
The remainder of our days were spent hiking and enjoying the culture and locals in Salento. The guys at Brunch had recommended a trip to Valle De Cocora, a coffee farm tour and a hike on the Camino National. I will write separately about the Valle De Cocora and the coffee farm.
One morning we got up early and walked to Brunch for breakfast. We decided to hike the Camino National to the waterfall and old bullfighting ring. We asked for a packed lunch to take with us on our walk. Then we were off to explore the countryside. We walked uphill along the dirt road past farm. It was all uphill which I prefer at the beginning of my day...that meant it was downhill on our way back! The countryside was beautiful and we were excited to have a picnic overlooking the beautiful valleys and the town of Salento. We hiked and looked for a spot to enjoy the day. No luck. There was barbed wire fences and bulls roaming the fields. We kept looking. Eventually, we found the Las Mercedes Finca with an old bullring.
We walked up to the gate and the calves walked over to look at us. I think they thought we were going to feed them. So cute! I love cows. Brings back happy memories of my grandparents farms. I use to love bottle feeding calves.
|Las Mercedes Finca|
We met a cowboy that worked on the farm and we asked if we could go in and see the bullfighting ring and eat our picnic lunch. No, it was not allowed. We thanked him for talking to us and he waved goodbye as he rode away on his horse. We both watched as he rode away, we loved this ranching and farming community. I also noticed he was the first farmer I had seen that was not wearing his poncho. Well, it was wrapped around his neck.
We continued our hike up the hill and found the waterfall. We looked at it from the distance and continued up the hill. We walked another hour uphill and finally realized all of the fields were fenced off and no place to sit and have a picnic. We turned and walked back. On the return, we stopped at the waterfall.
Then we continued walking until we found a small patch of grass along the side of the road. This was going to be our picnic spot.
I must admit, it was the first time I had ever sat by a barbed wire fence overlooking a beautiful valley for a picnic lunch. We walked back towards town and it started to rain. We decided to go back to Brunch and watch a movie. Unfortunately, so did all of the other travelers! We decided to have iced coffee and a competitive game of Battleship.
Our last day in Salento was spent shopping. We met a sweet woman that knits and Chantal bought half her store. Beautiful hand knit items that she loved to show the different ways they could be worn. I told her that I would be returning to Salento to live and asked if she would give me knitting lessons. Of course, she would love to teach me and let me practice my Spanish.
We returned to our guesthouse and took a small nap during the afternoon rain storm. Then it was dinner time and we both wanted an arepa (flatbread made of ground maize dough and topped with butter and cheese) for dinner. We walked to the corner to our favorite stall. Mmm!
Our last stop of the night was las Almas Bar for tejo, a traditional Colombian sport. I was fascinated when I was told about this game that involved gunpowder explosions. It is free as long as you drink beer. A metal disk (tejo) is thrown 20 meters towards a board covered with clay and set at a 45 degree angle. A metal ring is set in the clay and triangle shaped envelopes of gunpowder (mechas) are placed on the edges of the ring. When the tejo comes in contact with the mechas, an explosion occurs that sounds like a gun firing.
I jumped each time they exploded followed by laughing. It was fun and enjoyable to watch. I wondered why we don't have this at home. it's like horseshoes only more exciting and explosive! I am going to talk my brother-in-law or uncle into building one of these. It would be fun on a weekend with some beers. Chantal and I both tried our hand at it...yes, I suck. I kept hitting the back board and making the wrong kind of noise. We left that evening after a fun round of tejo. We had experienced a great deal Salento had to offer and we both loved this quaint town. I was happy to be returning to live here for a month.