04/18/2012 - 04/28/2012
After hearing about Salento, I knew it was another stop I couldn't miss. Unfortunately it meant going back through Medellin and straight south, West of Bogota. Another "overnight" bus landed us in Salento at 4am, where we found the kitchen door opened and slept on couches in the kitchen/living room until reception woke us up with a few questions about what we were doing there.
Salento is in the coffee region - which means warmer temperatures than I'd been used to so far and lush, incredible scenery. First thing we took a tour of a coffee farm, learning all about the process from growing the plants to roasting the beans. Coffee grows best in shade, so the plants are often planted alternating with other plants, so the farm also had bananas, pineapples, blackberries, and I even tried my first Lulo - delicious! Not to mention, drinking the freshest cup of coffee you could imagine. We watched the farmer take the seeds from the drying floor, roast them, grind them, and finally make us a delicious cup of Colombian Coffee.
Later that day we went on an incredibly horseback ride through muddy and rocky trails, fields, through small rivers, and finally to a waterfall. Cold, but perfect for a little cooling off. The boys stripped down and jumped right in. The girls were happy giving our legs a freshening up.
At night, a little game of Tejo was in order. Basically corn-hole but instead of bean bags you use metal discs, which are essentially thrown at triangles filled with gun powder. A successful throw is rewarded with a deafening explosion. Welcome to Colombia BTW, I absolutely sucked at this game.
The following day we did a 5-hour hike in Los Nevados National Park. The very highest point was a lookout where we were served hot chocolate and had a mystical views of a hummingbird hotzone.
Back to Bogota
I decided my next stop would be San Gil, but since I would drive right through Bogota I decided to stop for a day... which turned into 4. I got to re-unite with several people I'd met in Montanita and one from the couple days I spent in Estonia last year! A few more tourist stops were inevitable, and I got a bunch of great Vegetarian food. MMMMMmmmm.
San Gil is the adventure sports capital of Colombia. Well known for the class 4 and 5 rapids for white water rafting, it's a small town with A LOT to offer to adventure-seeking tourists such as myself. Unfortunately water levels were high and too dangerous to raft. So instead we went caving! A very cool walk through a huge cave with several gaping rooms felt like another world. We even had to swim totally underwater a couple times pass under to another section.
Next up, Parasailing! Basically you're just looking over this incredible canyon, they strap a backpack onto you and hook you up to your guide and say RUNNNNNN! Yeah, run off a cliff. A few seconds of wild rollercoaster-like swoops and your up sailing like a bird who-knows how high up over a canyon. I felt no fear as we're gliding and dipping around the cliffsides and into the neighboring canyon. A perfect landing 45-minutes later and I was on cloud 9.
The last big adventure was supposed to be rapelling down a massive waterfall, but it was apparently raining at the top (although I have a sneaking suspicion the very important futbol game on had something to do with them not taking us). Instead we walked up through the park ourselves to the bottom of the waterfalls. They have so much power it wasn't even possible to swim up to them, you are pushed right back. Perfect for a swmming-in-place workout.
LOTS of activities lately, which means now it's time to go chill in the sun!