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Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Salento & Cali Colombia

Medellin was awesome but I  had to leave otherwise I might not have ever left. I took off to a town called Salento in the Coffee Region of Colombia up in the mountains. It was about a 4 hour bus ride from Medellin from Terminal Sur. Got dropped off on the side of the highway  and then ran accross to where we were told the bus would pick us up. After waiting a few minutes we started to hike up the road.... In retrospect not a smart idea. As it was a 2 lane road with a ton of traffic as everyone was coming up here for the end of semana santa. I could feel the cars driving past as we hiked down the mountain in the direction we hoped was the right way. After about 30 minutes and 5 buses passing us which were full we were able to flag down a bus that had room for us. Very happy we did that because once we got to the bottom of the hill we started heading up and got stuck in traffic and if we were walking it would have taken a  lot longer than the hour and half we were told and more like 4-5 hours. Got into town which was nice and bunked up at the plantation house which is owned by Tim an Englishman and his Colombian wife. It was a nice place and amazing scenery. Was able to go up to the mirador which overlooked the valley and hung out in the plaza for a quite weekend in the mountains. Did a tour of the coffee farm that Tim and his wife own and learned how the process from the planting to the harvesting and selling until it gets into the cups at starbucks. Also Colombia exports all of their coffee so there isn't very good coffee left in the country. I now know why coffee is so expensive and the farmers are not the ons who are making the money. I took off from a stormy weekend in Salento and headed down to Cali planning to take a refresher spanish class and take some salsa lessons. I got to the Pelican Larry Hostel which was nice where I quickly made friends with some awesome people. I was told by the staff that I didn't need Spanish lessons that my Spanish was fine. I wasn't there on days when they offered salsa lessons eithere so I opted to do the next best thing which was to go eat and drink with some locals. I went out with my new friends for dinner and drinks, which then led us to buy a bottle of Aguardiente  and play drinking games before a night out of salsa and merengue dancing. We eneded up going out in Menga on a Monday night which ended up being a great time and stayed out till about 4 AM then came back and passed out for the morning. Then slept showered and repeated the next night. I then realized if I stayed in Cali this would keep going. So I packed my stuff and headed out that next day for a 17 hour bus ride to Quito. This bus ride turned into quite the adventure after getting stuck in Pasto because I was the only person left on the bus  going to Ipiales so they first told me the border was closed. I called bullshit and then they said it wasn't safe for me to go which I told them too bad. It was already 1 in the morning and I knew Pasto wasn't safe at night either. They then told me it wasn't cost effective for them to drive only one person to the border so I would have to catch the first bus in the morning and they gave me back 5000 Pesos enough for the bus in the morning and dropped me off at a hotel near the bus terminal. I crashed for an hour and a half and then got up and took off for the bus station and made it to the border. Then it gets interesting and that you will read about in my next update about Quito...

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