It all worked out fine in the end! Diary of an older woman travelling solo in Colombia.

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South America » Colombia » Quindío » Salento
March 25th 2015
Published: May 9th 2015
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A bit of a screw up and an adventure but everything worked out fine in the end! I planned to do a walk to a waterfall and had got some instructions from the owner of the hospedaje and the Tourist Information Office. Unfortunately had written these on the map which I then proceeded to lose. It' s not that I am losing my marbles, I think, but that I can' t get everything I need to carry with me in my bum-bag so attempt to lodge water, hat etc between this and my waist so of course they fall out or I take them out and then forget them.

Breakfast is not included with my lodgings, which is a pain because anywhere that does breakfasts is busy before the 9.30 am bus leaves for Cocora so you have to wait. I also made the mistake of going to a Lonely Planet recommended café where I discovered they give you peanut butter with everything. I thought we seemed to be in the same area as I was supposed to catch a bus to (although it hardly seemed worth it) so asked the owner for directions for the walk. I checked these with a hostel receptionist on the way. He pointed out that the path was ‘pantanoso’ (boggy) but there was a sign up for Camino Nacional (National Hiking Route) so I set off feeling pleased with myself. He wasn't kidding. What I had missed out on in the way of mud yesterday (and, as it turned out, precarious bridges) I made up for in spadefuls today. How I got to the bottom, I don't know. The only person on the 'path' was a guy on a horse and that was all it was fit for. It took me about an hour and I was convinced I was going to end up on my bum with my new hat ruined. By the time I got to the main road I had decided I would hitch back if necessary and worse was to follow when I realised that this was the point I should have got the bus to and started the walk from! I went into the only one of several camp sites that was actually open to get a drink. Had left my water in the cafe - see above. The owner was very nice, we had a chat and she showed me where the walk continued and where to get the bus back. If it had been left to me, no doubt I would have waited on the wrong side of the road. She also insisted on giving me a guided tour of her site, which included rustic thatched roof cabins, so I duly took some photos.

Had to pay at a finca to continue along the path, as I did yesterday, but all was fine until I got to a fork which was poorly marked. However at this point I struck it lucky as two Americans on horseback appeared with their guide . (Needless to say they had started from the campsite.) I asked the guide the way and followed at a discreet distance. Just as well because there were two plank bridges, with hand wires, to negotiate and also although I could have found the river I wasn't sure where the waterfall was and thought I might have passed it. The two Americans gave me some of their water to drink and I gave their guide a tip. Neither the waterfall nor the river were anything like as spectacular as the rivers in our part of Galicia but the walk, which took getting on for three hours, was scenic and the bridges were fun!

Caught the bus back as instructed and had a nice surprise at the hospedaje. I took my boots off before going in as they were so muddy and asked the maid who let me in if she could give me something to clean them with and suggest somewhere to do it. I knew I couldn't get on a plane with them in that state. ‘'I'll do them', she said, refusing any payment! (I will leave her a tip.) Afterwards I actually had a small piece of decent steak for lunch at an unlikely cross between a corner shop and a cafe. The meal, soup with a banana on the side,(?!) the steak with usual accompaniments, un-spellable juice, a beer and a bottle of water cost about £2.75. Quite a good morning after a dodgy start! Furthermore I do have my mountain view after all. Having been asked again if I wanted to move, and declined, I am allowed to sit on the balcony of an empty room to type this. Had a chat with the maid who is so bored ( no other guests,) she keeps offering to make me coffee. She told me that it is a rare day when it doesn't rain here although fortunately not all day, so worse than Galicia then!

Since I shall soon be going home am now starting to feel guilty about not having bought anything to take back, apart from coffee beans and my hat. This always happens: other people seem to pick up nice mementos as they go along without really trying but since I steer clear of tourist type shops (am much more interested in pharmacists!) this is not likely to happen to me. This place is full of arts and crafty shops but most of the jewellery, which I could get into my case, seems very 'hippy', no doubt targeted at the backpackers. Memo to self: avoid backpacker havens next trip!

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