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Published: April 13th 2009
Day 723 (22.03.09)
Today was filled with bus travel as we made our way into Colombia's Zona Cafetera, first to the large town of Armenia and then on towards Salento an hour up the road. We passed through lush countryside and stunning views of the dramatic hills that make up this area and arrived into the town's main square just as night was falling.
The plaza was full of revellers supping on beers and sitting around in food tents and the usual band of stray dogs that you find everywhere in this continent were running rings around excited kids. We learned that this was a long weekend for a festival celebration. It lent a great party atmosphere to the town but we soon found it was going to cause us a problem with accomodation with all of the hosterias full for the night.
Mark teamed up with a little local lad and scoured the town for a place to stay eventually finding a local family who, amongst many others, had opened their homes to tourists, both foreign and Colombian, for the weekend.
The family were very friendly, their house large and beautifully furnished and, after we'd popped
out for a bite to eat, we sat around making our best attempts to understand their very rapid Spanish and playing with the kids until, tired from the day's travelling, we headed to bed.
Day 724 (23.03.09)
We were made a lovely breakfast by the lady of the house and then they prepared a hot shower for us. This involved heating up large pans of water on the stove and filling up a large bucket in the bathroom where you could use a smaller bucket to pour the water over yourself. Of course you could have a real shower if you wanted but that would be a cold one and in the cooler climates up here in the hills it wasn't too tempting!
It had been interesting staying with our family for the night but we wanted a place where we could use the kitchen and, with the holiday over after today, places had opened up all over town. We found a nice room in a hostel called Las Palmas and moved our stuff over before heading out to explore the town.
The pretty buildings that make up the small network of streets are adorned with
brightly painted wooden shutters and with the festival crowd milling about and regular poncho-wearing horseriders trotting past it made for a lovely place to wander. We poked around the little craft shops and then walked up the many many steps to the top of the hill for a great view over town and the surrounding hills.
Back in town it was time for lunch and taking the chance to sample the local specialty we opted for a bowl of delicious trout soup in a lovely little restaurant just off the main plaza.
The afternoon was filled with ingredient hunting as we'd decided to cook ourselves a nice meal this evening. We each pulled a course out of a hat and later that night enjoyed an excellent fresh tomato soup from Vic, crusted trout with dauphinoise potatoes from Mark and an indulgent pudding of chocolate biscuit cake, cream and forest fruit from Chrissie. Well satisfied, we'd had a great night!
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