After checking three of Colombia’s biggest cities off of our list, Zevi and I have now arrived in a rural paradise. We are staying at La Seranna, a hostel about a kilometre from the small town of Salento in central Colombia. They call this the Zona Cafetera, or the coffee growing region, and there are a number of farms in close proximity to us that produce some of the world’s best coffee. We pulled up to the property yesterday in the back of our Willy’s Jeep taxi and were immediately astounded by the 360 degrees of jaw dropping views that surround this place. There are steep valleys to all four sides of us covered in greenery, which I’m guessing lasts all year round in this temperate climate. There are a couple of dogs that laze around and will gladly take a few pets. Roosters crowed our wakeup call this morning, and the sound of birds chirping is our constant background music. It’s quite a change from the hustle and bustle of the city!
The atmosphere here is really unique as well. It’s sometimes a bit of a struggle to find a hostel that has the right balance between encouraging socializing, which we like, and full on party atmosphere, which we’re not really into. We really enjoy meeting other travellers and sharing thoughts and stories with them, but we also enjoy getting a good night’s sleep, and La Seranna seems to provide an environment where these two things can happily coexist. Every night from Monday to Friday they have group dinners, where you sit at large communal tables and eat with others staying in the hostel. Last night we had burritos with all sorts of amazing homemade fillings for less than ten dollars each, a pretty great deal if you ask me! We could see one of the cooks making tortillas from scratch and quickly cooking them in a cast iron pan as we ate, and they were absolutely delicious – so much better than store bought. We met and chatted with some really interesting people at dinner, and then moved down to one of the fire pits where we visited some more. It was a lovely way to start our stay here, and I hope the next few nights will be just as wonderful!
I was expecting our bus trip here to be pretty arduous, but for the most part it was much smoother than expected. A trip that I thought would last upwards of eight hours took only six, and our bus was probably the most comfortable one I’ve ever been on. It even had wifi! Maybe that’s a normal thing these days and I had no idea since I don’t take long-haul busses very often, but I was quite impressed. It wasn’t completely smooth sailing, though. We thought that it would be nice to get some exercise in the morning since we’d be sitting for the better part of the days, so we decided to hoof it to the bus station from our hostel in Medellin. It looked to be just over three kilometers, which didn’t sound too bad, and the first part was an easy route downhill that we had walked a few times before. As we got past the familiar section, though, we realized that we actually had no idea where we were going. Luckily Colombians are very friendly, so we found many people that were more than happy to point us in the right direction. By the time we got to the station and hurried on to our bus, we were glad to have a chance to sit down for a while.
There is no direct bus from Medellin to Salento, so we got dropped off on the side of the highway before the bus’s final stop in Armenia so that we wouldn’t have to backtrack. After running across the highway with our huge backpacks (just another day crossing roads in Latin America), we managed to flag down a small twelve or so seater bus that was on its way to Salento. It was no easy task, but we somehow managed to cram seven people, many of them much taller than the average Colombian, and their excessively large luggage into this already mostly full bus. The other passengers were very gracious and kind as we sat down beside them with our giant packs on our laps and tried not to hit them with any of our paraphernalia. I’m not sure that I would have been as understanding! We gripped our bags tightly as we wove our way up a series of sharp bends, trying not to let gravity knock us into our neighbours. I made a mental list of all of the things I wished I had left at home so that my pack wouldn’t be so gargantuan. Luckily the ride was over in less than half an hour and everyone seemingly made it out unscathed.
I love city life, and I’ll be happy to get back to exploring the urban jungles of South America in a few days. For now though, I’m happy to breathe in some fresh country air and do a little rural relaxing.