Salento - 14-16 Mar 2014

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March 16th 2014
Published: June 13th 2014
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Lots of hills and bridges
Friday 14th March (Odyssey Day 126)

An early start this morning, with Simon wanting to be on the road at 0700. Salento doesn’t seem to be very far away on the map, but it may still take us about 10 hours to get there. We have to backtrack to Medellin and then the road from there is very winding and sometimes suffers from landslides to delay traffic. Surprisingly, we managed to get packed up and on our way almost 10 minutes early. With so many of us, it is usually quite the task to leave on time.

We stopped in a fairly large town for lunch. A few of us headed off to a nearby bakery/café to enjoy some delicious pastries while Simon had a tyre on the truck dealt with. If you want milk with your coffee, you have to order it separately. Ironically, the little jug of milk is sometimes bigger than the cup of coffee.

We arrived in Salento around 1800 and checked in to our hotel. This one is quite decent, it’s a bit like a
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This old building is a little worse for wear
motel really and the rooms are nice. I’m in a room on the second level with Ann and Joanna here and they are a good size. The views from the veranda are stunning.

We are just around the corner from the main square, where we headed for dinner. We stopped at a recommended restaurant on the square, and I had trout while a couple of the girls had steak. The fish was beautiful, well cooked and not expensive. The restaurant we ate at was quite nice and had some odd decorations, including a really old style TV, and a number of horse saddles.

After dinner, we went for a walk around town, looking in any shops that were open and buying some souvenirs, mainly earrings for Hannah, Ellie and I! A girl can never have too many.

Saturday 15th March (Odyssey Day 127)

There was only a small table for people to have breakfast at, so we had to take turns. It was a nice cooked breakfast though and worth getting out of bed for. At 0830 most of us set off down the road to a coffee plantation for a tour of the facility and some interesting information about how it is grown and processed here in Colombia. Surprisingly I discovered that the time of planting is affected by the phase of the moon, which I thought was rather incredible. We were told that if planted when the moon is waxing, the plants are big but the fruit small. If planted when the moon is waning the plants are smaller but the fruit is bigger, which is the better result.

To get to the plantation, we were given the option to change into some gumboots, which I am rather glad I did since the track down to it was very muddy. I ended up being the last to traipse in and sit down, after deciding walking faster wasn’t worth the rather high chance of landing on my butt in a big puddle of mud.

After seeing the process of growing, harvesting and roasting the coffee, we were also given a chance to try
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AJ with a pineapple
some, having watched the guys grind and prepare it. Not bad coffee but rather bitter. That is how they drink it in this area though.

We walked around the plantation through a small bamboo forest. The whole area is made up of a lot of hills and some of the paths have rather large steps, as well as steep slopes. This makes it a bit more difficult for me with my very short legs! It was also very muddy, which is not unexpected at this time of year.

This is where we walked past some pineapples growing. I was not aware that they grew so close to the ground! It was fascinating to see them there – I’m not sure I had ever really thought about how they grew before. The plants were less than one metre tall, with a lot of leaves and the fruit sitting in the top. Apparently they never ripen further after harvesting.

In the afternoon a rain storm went through with lots of thunder, beautiful to listen to but no so good for the

Johnny at the Tevo target
people still out in it. I had headed back to the hotel after lunch to wash all my dirty clothes and hang them on the verandah to dry. Of course, the storm didn’t really help much with this job.

We met up in the evening for Tevo at a pub a few blocks away. It’s a game kind of like a cross between darts, bowls and shot-put. Okay, so how is it played? Well it’s got a range and the target is basically an area of clay with a metal ring in the centre. On the ring you place a few small packets of gunpowder. You stand a designated distance and then throw a heavy lump of metal at the target, trying not to wrench your shoulder while doing so. If you hit a packet and it explodes, you get 3 points. If you land the metal inside the ring without an explosion and it stays there, you get 6 points (harder than it sounds because despite expectation, these heavy lumps of metal seem to bounce off clay). If you land the metal in the ring, it stays there, and you get an

AJ gives Tevo a go, after all who doesn't enjoy exploding things?
explosion as well, it is worth 9 points. If no one gets points then the metal lump closest to the ring gets one point.

Needless to say, most of our game comprised of single points with the occasional 3 and even one 6 (sadly, not by me). The team to reach 21 points first wins the game. Unsurprisingly it took us about 2 hours to get through just two games. We could play for free as long as the group bought a few drinks whilst there. What better combination can you possibly think of than alcohol, gunpowder and heavy lumps of metal?

Ellie, Hannah, Joanna and I stopped for pizza on the way home since we hadn’t had a chance to get dinner before the pub. The pizza was delicious and cheap as well though we were surprised anything was still open at midnight.

Sunday 16th March (Odyssey Day 128)

A free day today, I actually spent a few hour this morning sorting through my bags in an

Salento fire station
attempt to organise them better. I put all my souvenirs aside to post home from Buenos Aires, and threw out some ratty looking clothes that I certainly have no further use of. Why carry stuff around that I am never going to use again.

At 1600 I headed to the nearby hostel 'Brunch' with Hannah, Joanna, Mike and Ellie. We had some delicious granizado’s (iced coffee with a liqueur, in this case amaretto) while using the internet, since our hotel didn’t have any(internet that is, though it didn't have granizado's either). The American guy who ran the place was a fount of information about the area, particularly helpful to Hannah, Joanna and Mike who are planning to stay an extra day in Salento and catch up to the group in Popayan. They want to do another hike around the area, which is the main reason for stopping here in the first place. The scenery is beautiful and their desire to spend more time here understandable.

Having enjoyed our dinner a lot the first night, we returned to the pink restaurant with the questionable décor for dinner on our last night

A Salento ambulance
as well. Salento has been a very relaxing stop for us and now we head faster back down to Ecuador.

Additional photos below
Photos: 15, Displayed: 15


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Salento Coffee Plantation

A son playing dress up in his dads coat - he looks more like a ghost than a farmer though
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Salento Coffee Plantation

Grinding the coffee after roasting it
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Salento Coffee Plantation

AJ enjoys a coffee whilst standing under what is apparently one of the deadliest trees in the world

AJ enjoying her midnight pizza

Interesting choice of décor at this restaurant

From the hotel balcony, what a view to wake up to

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