After a big night Chris and I slept in for a bit trying to get to coffee country today will be a tall task, we checked out and took the bus to Armenia, we wer surprised to find out it will take 6 hours to get there, Luis my friend said only 4 hours, liar! it was a small bus and our seat is next to the toilet and it stunk. The roads are windy and the kids in the bus are throwing up. Occasional wafts of smelly toilet and a/c that barely worked was too much for a 6 hour trip. We had a break halfway and had lunch, i had a delicious fried mojarra fish and guanabana juice, very filling and quite tasty.
Arrived in Armenia on a dark rainy eve, we noticed horses on the main road, cowboys galloping everywhere, turns out there is a festival going on at the moment here, it was pouring down rain and we thought of staying in Armenia for the night to see the festival but since it was raining hard we decided to go all the way to Salento and on the bus we met a young couple from Oklahoma
and a German dude, we got to talking and we all ended up at the Plantation House, it was raining and we havent a clue where it was after we got dropped off so we just asked people around. We got checked in to our 3 bed dorm and we had a walk around town to look for dinner while our beds are being made, we had a liver sandwich thing with arepa, quite good, we bought it at the town square where there was a lot of stalls selling food, lots of tourist buses as well. We walked a bit after dinner and settled for a few beers at a local pub then went back home to bed. it is a bit cool here, freah mountain air, i slept very well as I was still tired from partying in Medellin.
The next morning Chris and I decided to walk around town and find a laundry place, then had a good lunch menu del dia for 8,000 pesos. The town is bustling with people a lot of tourists from Armenia, we walked up to the hill and chilled there a bit before coming back down and buying beers at
the supermercado and having it in the central park. music blaring from some bars just next to the church. When we got back to the hostel we were showed around the place by the owner, a tour of his hostel and explained to us his plans of expanding. Went out for dinner in the main square up the hill once again with James, Thomas and Chris, we had a few beers then came back to the hostel, Julie a Vietnamese/French girl just arrived and poor thing has got no bed to sleep on, she made a reservation but her bed was given away so she will sleep in the living room. Went to bed early, did not sleep well, have to get up early to get ready for the trip to Cocora.
Got up, Chris was complaining he did not sleep well, so did I. We met up with James and Thomas again and walked to the plaza to get some breakfast. Good eggs and arepa with cheese breakfast and a bowl of tea or coffee, good meal before the trek. We got in to the jeeps that goes to Cocora around 9:30am so full some have to stand
on the back and hold on to the railings, we met here the nice Swiss couple from our hostel who gave me tips on Southeast Asia. The ride was scenic, half paved half rough roads, very dusty and smell of gas permeates the jeep the exhaust is not very good! Took just about 45 minutes i think, we arrived at the starting point of the hike, we all went together, the palm trees and eucalyptus trees dot the hilly countryside. We took photos of the map so we can have a reference, we passed by a trout farm while walking the La Montana trail, uphill we kind of struggle a bit, must be the altitude, though only 2,700 plus meters. We rested a lot and when we got to the point where the trail splits we decided to go to Acaime 1 km away, but half the group headed back including me not wanting to go there as you need to pay 3,000 entrance fee, we followed the trail back into the La Montana.
At the top of the hill is this quaint house with a fabulous view of the valley and mountains around it, the rest of the
gang ordered coffee while we took photos of the hummingbirds. Beautiful location, very scenic. After about an hour we resumed walking again down on the other path, view is spectacular as usual. me and Chris were ahead of everyone, it started drizzling a bit but never rained hard, we got to the jeep stop and we waited for the others to arrive, Julie and Max was way behind we could not wait for them, the jeep left at 3:10 pm, bumpy ride and the driver still takes passengers even though we are full! tough hanging on to the railings when the roads are bumpy and windy but we got back safe and sound, we had a good lunch at the plaza with menu corrientes and then picked up our laundry and head back for a well needed shower.
In the eve we went out with bunch of people from the hostel, in the plaza there was a woman selling excellent liver sandwiches, Chris and I grossed out the rest of the group but we didnt care as it was quite delicious. We went with them to a proper sit down restaurant for dinner then we moved on to a
bar where they have bonfire lit up outside and is cool to hang out, Julie the pretty French/Vietnamese girl brought one of her favorite Cuban cigars for us to smoke. We came back late and immediately went to bed. The next day me Chris and Swaantje(German girl) and John(Aussie) went for a walk to this coffee finca called Don Elias recommended by fellow backpackers. It was a bit far, we walked almost an hour out of town but the walk was incredibly scenic and we met a number of locals living in the village and greeted us kindly. We arrived at Don Elias and we were welcomed with open arms, we toured the coffee place, we helped in harvesting the coffee fruits and then shown how the process goes from beginning to end product, and we had the coffee to sample, excellent strong Colombian coffee, my 1st in 15 years, what a place to start drinking it again!
The walk back was a bit faster as we were all starving and arriving in town we ate at the local eatery, our favorite in the town plaza. Then back to hostel to take a nap. In the eve we went
out as a group, a couple of Americans from Chicago travelling separately joined us, Mark and David, a Swiss guy Simon and the rest of the gang. We had a delicious dinner menu corriente with farmed trout, delicious! The proceeded to a pool hall where locals play, most are older men in their native garb of cowboy hats and boots and machete and this handkerchief thing that they hang on their shoulder, very colorful. The gand played pool while i watched and just got drunk. Lots of fun and the locals were interacting with us as well.
Chris, me and Mark went back home tired, while the rest continued on to the same bar as last night, close to the steps towards the mirador up the hill.
Early morning rise, our new roomie left for Bogota at 6am and Chris and i got up with him, got ready and we all said goodbyes, they, climbing the Los Nevados and I goinng to Cali, after paying the crazy, quirky owner Tim, Swaantje and I walked towards the estaccion bombero to wait for the bus to Armenia. It was full when the bus got around and i stood up for 10
minutes then a passenger got off. in Armenia I connected to a collectivo for the trip to Cali, about 3 hours, i think less with our crazy lunatic race car driver, a common quality for taxi drivers here in Colombia.
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