Yesterday morning, Zevi and I took a stroll from our hostel to one of the most colourful little towns I’ve ever seen. We took the half an hour or so walk past beautiful pastures, and signs for questionably-translated coffee tours, to Salento, a sleepy little town of about 3600.
Many years ago, Salento was on a main route from Bogota to Cali, which made it an important city in the region. When the route was diverted away from Salento its growth and development slowed considerably, which has allowed it to retain much of its colonial charm, unlike many of the surrounding cities. It’s now one of the most popular tourist destinations in the area, and when you walk in to the town you can certainly see signs of that. Restaurants proclaiming their specials in English fill the colourful old buildings, and shops selling tourist trinkets line the streets. It’s no Cartagena, though – it’s small and remote enough that much of its original character remains unspoiled.
There isn’t all that much to see and do in Salento, but wandering the streets is an attraction in and of itself. We couldn’t stop snapping photos of the doors and buildings, each vibrantly painted in a colour scheme different from the next. It would be such a joy to wake up every day and go about your business on those rainbow hued streets, although I’m sure it would all blend in to the background after a while. We’re only here for a short time, though, so I know that they’ll continue to bring a smile to my face every time I see them.
We stopped in at what is purported to be the best coffee shop in Salento called Jesus Martin. I enjoyed my cappucino, but to be perfectly honest it wasn’t anything better than what I can find at my favourite cafes in Calgary. That trend has endured through my time in Colombia – even though we are right in the backyard of the best coffee producers in the world, I haven’t been blown away by any of the java I’ve had. I think that’s more of a compliment to the places I love in Calgary than a knock against Colombia, though. It just reaffirms what I already knew – those Calgarian coffee gurus are doing a lot of things right!