Tortilla, Tejo & Treking

Trip Start Aug 03, 2011
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Colombia  , Quindío,
Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Edgar and I headed over to the Southern bus terminal of Medellin first thing where we were able to procure seats on the 0830 bus to Armenia (I too thought I was suddenly about to change continents) where we would look to take a local but to Salento. The bus was extremely comfortable (and for once the temperature wasn't near freezing point) and we settled in for the 5 hour journey.

The journey was extremely scenic, we sped our way along roads built on mountain ridges with cavernous valley's flanking the winding road. After we had dropped our first consignment of passengers in Pereira we headed onwards to Armenia - imagine our surprise when the bus suddenly stopped in the middle of the road and the conductor started telling the passengers for Salento to get off (all 4 of us) - it was only once stood outside the coach that we realised the Salento bus had pulled up behind us and witha spot of luck we would save ourselves an hour of travelling time.

Arriving in Salento some 30 minutes later the weather was a little "damp" and swathes of the locals seemed to be sporting WWEllington boots (along with the prerequisite poncho and sombrero - quite a statement). We checked in at Plantation House, an old coffee.....errrr, plantation house owned by a Brit. Initially taking dorm beds we were lucky enough to get offered an ensuite private room for a modest extra 4000 pesos each - we duly enough took up the offer.

Having checked in, we headed out to grab a bite to eat before taking a look around town climbing the viewpoint and heading to the mirador of the Cocora Valle (The major attraction of the area). That night we headed to La Elena, a fabulous restaurant owned by an incredibly nice guy called Jesus and his wife. Jesus was Spanish, had lived in London for many years and was completely passionate about cooking. Despite no formal chef training his food was a delight (and the restaurant became a bit of a hub for Edgar and I during our time in Salento). After dinner, Jesus took Edgar, I and another band of 5 travellers to a local bar for a game of Tejo - rules to follow (I was unprepared and without a camera!) - in which my team prevailed!

Tejo, requires two teams(or individuals) who stand around 5 metres from a box full of clay with a 45 degree angle towards the player. Within the centre of the clay filled box is a metal ring on which are placed four small packages filled with gunpowder perched on the exterior (is it any wonder these Colombians have a reputation?). The player(s) throw a large (and quite heavy) metal "puck" at the clay pit with the closest throw to the circle winning a point. If you trigger an explosion, you get 3 points and if you land the "puck" in the centre of the circle without triggering an explosion you gain 6 points - in a contest to 21 - simple.

The following day Edgar and I headed off on a coffee tour (strange sense of deja vous crept over me) carried out by Tim (the British owner) and his administrator (Not sure why he opted more for Roman titles rather than manager?) We enjoyed learning about the economic side of things from Tim (including his Dr Evilesque plans to take over the world) before heading down to his plantation, Finca Don Eduardo to discover a paradise of coffee, pineapples, bamboo and numerous other things in natures glorious larder.

Lunch followed (courtesy of Jesus) and that afternoon as the heavens threatened to open up we sought sanctuary in the Salento "entertainment centre" (most of you are thinking that must be a pub, but no quite the contrary, a small room full of gaming consoles and packed with local children - Edgar and I embarked on a series of footie matches between Espana and Inglaterra (We won't say who won, only that I am unfamiliar with games controls in Latin America) . Back at the hostel, I met an pleasant chap from Windsor, Abid who we went on to play pool with and grab some food (no guesses where)

The following day Edgar and I headed to the Cocora Valley (Valle de Cocora) famed for the abundance of wax palms scattered across the valley. After clinging on to the back of a jeep for the 11km transfer from Salento to the valley head , we set off treking through the dense undergrowth of the national park enjoying the exercise and natural beauty - some two and a half hours later we had only done 4 kilometres (I cannot emphasise how tricky the terrain was - including clambering over tree trunk bridges with raging torrents below). We eventually clambered up to 3000 metres where we met some rangers who gleefully  told us that we had walked to a dead end and wished us luck on the return journey (encouraging words indeed!) - we headed back down to the park entrance having enjoyed a challenging 10 kilometre stroll in the lush forest.

That evening we returned to the pool hall before heading for food - Edgar and I had placed a special order with Jesus for a fiesta of Spanish food, pan con tomate, tortilla, jamon, chorizo, patatas bravas and of course red wine (I supplemented the meal with a glass of Kalimotxo!). After teh exercise and excellent food I slept like a baby which was all well and good as the following day I would be on the move again.

Before departing Salento for the airport at Pereira (another flashpacking chapter beckoning) I enjoyed a sumptuous breakfast of (proper) bacon sandwiches (only the travel brown sauce was missing) and watched as Abid gave Jesus a culinary masterclass on making curry - strange things you see!
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Pope Benedict on

Glad you have found Jesus on your trip! Redemption lays within. Remembered his job began with a C though I thought it was carpenter!?! Time to dig out the big book and revise who knows when I might get asked a question. Live long and prosper Little Sprakey. Doh! Got that wrong!!!

Dave Tidey on

Where's Amy? :(

mikesprake on

Tidey, get a grip!

Huggies on

Glad to see you have been sleeping like a baby. Hope you have managed ok without your dry-nights nappies!!! With all that coffee, there's no way you would usually get through the night without at least one change!!!!

Washy on

Enjoying your adventures. stay away from the coffee mate(!?!) you could get hooked for life. Like your Fidel & Hugo T-shirt best one yet! Where are you going to be for Christmas? Christmas dinner on monday if your around!

Taz on

Glad your still enjoying yourself! All your photos remind of something.....hmmmmm. I know it's having fun! Enjoy and keep safe xx

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