Published: December 15th 2011December 14th 2011
Salento is a quaint little town nestled amongst breathtaking mountainous views and is also part of the coffee triangle. Nicklas and I decided to check it out a few weekends ago and had to tear ourselves away from it.
La Serrano, the hostel we stayed at, is located almost 2km outside of the city, and it couldn’t have been in a better location. The hostel is really a ranch house surrounded by a stunning, 360 degree views. We both agreed that the rooms like the hostel had would easily charge well over $100 USD/night back at home, and this place only charges from a range of $15-40 USD/night! Incredible!
Unfortunately, it rained most of the weekend. This meant that we had to cancel our horseback riding plans, couldn’t really go hiking, and on Saturday, it stopped us from making it to a coffee farm (which was no biggie as we made it to one the next day). But in light of the bad weather, we found ourselves in awe of every single view we came across or kept meeting, drank, and basically found ourselves laughing hysterically almost the entire weekend. We chose not to hang out with other gringos
at the hostel, found ourselves playing Colombian pool at this local bar the latter two nights (I was the only girl the first night, then one of three the other), and we even won a round against these awesome Colombian players!
The first day, we tried to do the 45 min walk to the Don Elias Coffee Farm, but it poured so hard we decided it wouldn’t be wise to go any further on our walk. Luckily, a sort of bus stop appeared, which provided us shelter from the rain. The shelter was a small, holey, tin roof held up by thick bamboo sticks. About ten minutes later, a JEEP came!!! Out in the country, old school jeeps are the main sources of public transportation which I happen to be wildly fascinated by, much like the machetes (easily amused, I know). So you better believe I was stoked to hitch a ride in the back of one of those on a dirt road! Sure made getting rained out of going to the coffee farm awesome!
The next day, I was determined to go to the coffee farm, especially after having to cancel our horseback ride due to the
rain. The walk was absolutely magical though. The whole town is filled with views, but the coffee farm is located further out of town than our hostel (a gorgeous 20-minute-countryside walk out of Salento). Both of us agreed the views were unreal –there’s no way that something so beautiful could exist! The pictures don’t even come close to capturing the beauty.
When we finally arrived at the farm, we were even more impressed: because of all the advertising, we thought for sure it would be a huge commercial coffee farm. Instead, it’s a small coffee farm smudged up side of this small little patch of mountain, located above a rushing river. Then a cute, old man, Don Elias himself, basically shows you around his backyard! He showed us all he could and explained the process of making coffee as I squirmed watching him walk through the slippery, muddy hill between the coffee bushes, praying he wasn’t going to fall and break his hip! His little nugget of land was also lush with banana plants (which help shade the coffee during the summer, something you never grow coffee without), pineapples, and a few rare exotic flowers. His home was barely
that, a makeshift of sorts, dirty, tiny, and three generations of his family resided there. The kitchen wasn’t even really a kitchen. It was pretty much outdoor and some counter top slapped in place. Fat chickens ran around the yard as the family happily discussed something over the kitchen table while doing something with the coffee beans. Lastly, we got to try a small cup of coffee. Luckily, we were able to understand everything he told us. He would pause every now and then to make sure we understood, but I wonder how else he would be able to explain the process without knowing any English. At the end, Don sat with us drinking his giant bowl of coffee and of course, asked us more personal questions as Latin Americans are so great at doing. He was very interested and amazed by my height and asked if Nicklas and I were together. I told him we weren’t, and I think it made his year! His toothless smile stretched from ear to ear and I bet he would have done a little skip and a jump if his bones could only hold in place! I gave him a side hug and
he kept his arm around me with a giant smile while admiring my height until his son or maybe son-in-law turned the car around to bring us home. Definitely one of those times I really wish I was already fluent Spanishe, I bet he would have some amazing stories to tell. He touched on some things of his past through out the tour that made it seem this way. I don’t think we could have asked for a better coffee tour, it was one of the most authentic, Colombian experiences one could probably have, and only for about $2.5 USD -I wish he would charge more.
We were suppose to leave on Sunday, but with thunder threatening in the distance and night growing near, we decided it would be in our best interest to stay another night. The only road home is ridiculously winding through the mountain tops and if you make one false move, you’ll find yourself flying off a cliff! Not to mention the speed the busdrivers take a cruve at while blindly passing a giant truck! Obviously, something we didn’t even want to try at night without rain, let alone with it! Plus, it was an
extremely easy choice to stay in peaceful, clean Salento another night! I’ll most definitely return before my time is done here in Colombia.
There are more photos below