Friday, 28 August 2009

Head In The Clouds

I've never been a coffee drinker; always loved the smell of coffee emporiums, but never taken to drinking the stuff. But I've started since being in Colombia, despite the fact afficionados like Jocky tell me that they don't make a cup as well as they grow it. I'm no expert, obviously.

Fletch had told me I must see the coffee-growing region for its sheer beauty. He wasn't wrong. We headed for the delightfully colourful village of Salento, near Armenia. It's a good stop for a day or two of walking, but nothing more. Time has literally stood still in the town; the village clock has been stuck on 5.20pm for the past hundred years. I accidentally kicked a stray dog on a pavement. No yelping, no barking; just one opened eye, a dirty look and it went back to sleep.

We took a jeep from the square for a quid. Apparently, our hostel owner was telling us, three Israeli girls were arguing with the drivers a few days before...trying to get the price down. Needless to say, they didn't make the valley. It's a good few miles to the beginning of the walk, too...you can hardly complain.

Garfield complained about the view, or lack of one, on the way through the dense forest. Once you've seen one palm treee, and all that. We followed the brook all the way to the base of a steep hill, and began the punishing climb upwards. From the top, the clouds prvent you seeing much...but the view on the way back down to the Cocora valley floor stifled Garf's complaints: it was simply breathtaking. The green floor stretches as far as the eye can see, and the hills are dotted with the wax palms native only to this small area in Colombia; you won't see these tall trees anywhere else on the planet. Watching the clouds drift through them like a mist was the highlight of the afternoon. Well worth the effort, and a must if you're in Colombia.

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