Days 33-34 - Coffee!

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February 28th 2018
Published: February 28th 2018
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An emotional goodbye on Monday to my host family. Well, not really. I didn't understand much, but they insisted on driving me the 500 yards to where I'd arranged with someone from the school to store my bag. Newbie came and bombarded me with questions before she started school. I'm pretty sure the dad said something about being welcome if ever I want to return before he hugged me (otherwise it might be weird). And I tried to find as many sentences to put 'gracias' in as possible.

Then the bus to Salento. The timetable says six hours to make the trip from Medellin, so I stocked up on supplies (deep fried things - including an exceptional rice/meat empanada) and found my seat. Immediately, the guy in front of me reclined his and, as usual, my recliner button didn't work. So I had to sit bolt upright for 8 hours (delayed by roadworks). There was mercifully a lunch stop for 20 minutes, otherwise it might've taken two days to uncurl my body by the end. Two good things about the bus - incredible scenery, not done justice by the photos here; and movies. I recommend Patriot's Day.

Having arrived in the dark, I decided to just find my hostel and sleep. Note, when I say hostel I mean 'double room with own toilet in something called a hostel', because I'm not 19. £20 per night with hot water (phew).

Today I was able to take the morning to walk around Salento town. It's full of backpackers and the impression is that most locals speak English, but I have tried to persevere in Spanish as first resort. A pretty town with colourful houses, similar to Guatape. I finally relented and bought mandatory bracelet in Colombian colours. Then, in the afternoon had a coffee tour booked at a local finca, a 50 minute hike away.

I wanted to do this properly, so chose a 3 hour premium tour. So good. The guide went through the history, what makes Colombian coffee from this region different (not necessarily better) and how it's grown, picked, dried and (for their shop only) roasted. Everything else gets exported unroasted to maintain the freshness and give Starbucks the freedom to overroast it as much as they can. We finished with a tasting session and different cupping methods. Am loving the Japanese siphon and will become coffee snob immediately. Lots of tips and myth-busting on roasting, grinding, timings, quantities and so on. They even have a coffee university here.

Trip back was on a Willy. IT'S A JEEP. I now know how to get 15 people into a jeep. With 5 hanging off the back.

Tomorrow I'm planning to hike the Valle de Cocora, where the tall palm trees are. A five hour round trip with allegedly spectacular scenery. And hummingbirds.

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