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Published: August 8th 2017
From the great modern city of Medellin we hopped on a bus to Salento, a small beautiful colonial town in the mountains.
We stayed in a hostel called Tralala, well run by Hemmo, a Dutchman with whom we got along well.
Social media had shown us Helene and Clement, the French friends we made in Cabo de la Vela, were also in Salento so we met up and had a fun dinner and afterwards went to the local Tejo bar to play tejo, a local game in which you have to throw a kind of flat ball of metal weighing around a pound towards a ring in mud with small explosives on it. Of course this goes accompanied with a lot of drinking which should improve either the score or just the fun. We were all rather bad in this game, except the drinking part, but it was fun to experience.
From Salento we explored the surrounding hills and went to get a cup of coffee at one of the fincas in this coffee plantations area and the next day with one the old Jeeps, called Willys, used by locals for local transportation we went for an amazing
hike through some hills and cloud forests surrounding us and crossing a small river via small hanging bridges. In the cloud forest we visited a place with a lot of hummingbirds/kolibris where at the end of the hike we found the largest palm trees on earth, truly sky scraping.
We had a lovely wine infused dinner at Hemmo’s place. He has been in Colombia for about eight years and has recently finished building his own dream house, and a dream house it is. We had a great evening with Hemmo and a friend Daan and we hardly couldn’t stop chatting about Colombia, travelling the world, Latin American and well actually all the world problems etcetera.
Next stop Calí, the capital of salsa (dancing). We were kind of underwhelmed by the city itself, after Bogota and Medellin, but we had a salsa class and that was fun. After just two nights we decided to go to the Pacific coast. Most governments in the world (including the Dutch and UK) strongly advise not to visit the whole area but as we informed ourselves well locally about the real current situation we took the bus to Buenaventura, the biggest port town
of Colombia for all (legal and illegal) trade.
We took a small boat to the fishing village Juanchaco and from Juanchaco we walked along the beautiful beach, easy because it was low tide, to the hamlet La Barra. La Barra is the most remote place we could get to and it’s just one sandy street with rickety wooden houses, and a huge empty beautiful beach! The local people were very welcoming and easily we checked in at the biggest ‘hostel’, another rickety wooden house, which also served as the main restaurant of the village. No running water but a nice bucket shower, 24 hour electricity and great food were included in our package and we loved it. Again one of these special places where not a lot of foreigners go to, but where those who do are all extremely social, where we are embraced by the local families and where the food is the freshest and 100% organic because that’s just the way they grow, catch and produce their meals. With a small boat we sail through the mangroves and visit a small natural swimming pool in the jungle.
The main attraction of La Barra and the other
villages around are the whales that during these months gather in the bay, give birth to their young ones and then spend weeks training their young calves in the essentials of life. This all happens rather close to the shore so only a short ride in a small boat brought us pretty close to two small families of whales. And this was really an amazing experience, these animals are so huge but also kind of cute, they really put up a show and we got to see them waving their fins and making jumps not too far from our boat. Just wow…..!
After three nights we said goodbye to our hosting family and our new made friends and headed back to Calí because we had one thing to do on our list which we thought would be good to do in the weekend, we went to a salsateca to dance salsa. With a small group of travellers from all over the world (Canada, US, Russia and us Dutchies) we went to La Topa, a very local salsa place. Our salsa dancing is not really on par with the locals but it was great to see them dance with a
lot of passion and ease. We ourselves tried some steps somewhere in the corner but after a while, and a few beers, we made friends and we were shown the basics and asked to dance with some locals. We just had so much fun!
From Calí we go south, on our way to Ecuador and settle ourselves for a few days in Popayan, a nice town with beautiful buildings, quite some tourists, good restaurants. Popoyan usually is a real business town, but we arrive during a long weekend of national holiday so the town is very quiet without cars or too many people on the streets.
We go on a tour to some thermal baths high up in the hills where we enjoy the extremely hot but disgusting sulphur smelling water. Because it is a national holiday it’s busy with Colombians in the baths and they love to chat with us and take pictures with us. Later we find out that they suspect us being famous Hollywood actors or so….. On bikes we ride mostly downhill back to Popayan, speeding through small villages and jungle on one side and a canyon on the other side.
we visit the small market village Silvia. This is just a commercial town in the hills but what is interesting is the indigenous Guambianos meet once a week to buy, sell and exchange their goods. This is of course also their weekly meetup so very social. We have lunch and walk around to see their local traditional attire. We speak with a local teacher who explains us that the Guambianos nowadays have restored most of their traditional customs, values, dress and values. Beautiful proud people!
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