Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Adventures in Zona Cafeteria..March 2013..
( The dangerous and risky YES, to an adventurous  hike up on the Peidra Blanca, mountain 6000 feet high)
We live in a wonderful world that is full of beauty, charm and adventure. There is no end to the adventures that we can have if only we seek them with our eyes open -  Nehru

The ranch and the surrounding mountain owned by Bernardo
Since the 5 nites 6 days spectacular trekking trip to Ciudad Perdida...the lost city in the Tayrona Parque, I have not had a chance for hiking or trekking. Last night I told the hostel manager let me know if anyone wants to hike with me down to the beautiful Valle de Corcora. I am in the most romantically sensuous, the  Zona Cafetera region.
I ended up going alone. A three hours hike down the hill and I decided to take the ionic ride back on the historic ¨Willy¨¨ the Jeep. I wanted the horse ride too as some of the hostel mates were doing it today.
Sandals and no umbrella proved very difficult as there was horse pooed wet tierra to track and rain drizzles enjoying my challenge. Within fifteen minutes of the walk I was encountered by a creek which occupied the whole peatonal. leaving no ground to walk on. I treadled on by tactfully jumping from one stone to another…surprisingly ended up on the highway which led to Valle de Cocora. A gorgeous scenery on both sides of the highway.. Started taking pics ..totally fearless that I may be heading in the wrong direction. Not a soul on the road.
Two amigis at the ranch
Enjoying the evening with some Demenq shots..Salud!

An amigo walking with a horse appears out of nowhere to receive my Buenas Dias greeting. Judging from my accent he responded back in English. We walked fifteen minutes together and knew more about each other as some old friends do.
Bernardo..60, married second time with a Colombian as his American wife did not want to live in Colombia. Has lived in San Francisco and attended university in Honolulu. No children. Lots of cousins and siblings scattered all over Colombia and USA. Does not like hunting.. Loves the mountains around where he grew up, owns three mountains along with ranches which he rents… many horses and cows. Day after tomorrow he is entertaining eight of his cousins to his ranch. Last family get together was forty years ago.

Dreams do come true….
“Without leaps of imagination or dreaming, we lose the excitement of possibilities. Dreaming, after all is a form of planning.”- Gloria Steinem)

Bernardo asked me to go with him to his ranch and to return with him when he comes back to receive his cousins after two days.
I ask how long is the trek?. Una houra.. came the reply. I agreed without a second thought, knowing his personality, by know. My instinct had a positive vibe about Bernardo.My friends later told me that I was crazy to accept the offer. 
Enroute to the ranch
After all I have to use the horse
Bernardo, busy with his hash pipe and whisky
Trespassing thr someone's property, which is very common and allowed
He offered his horse for me to ride; I refused as I get more tired on horseback than treading on Pacha Mama. We had a good laugh and shared our life experiences. The view was just out of the ordinary... ¨¨this is a way to heaven, my friend. Pointing to the most gorgeous lush mountain ranges¨¨ I agreed. The trek kind of difficult.. Up and down. Going from one mountain to another.. Climbing up to 6000 feet with a picturesque view but with some  chilly air confronting. Finally reached the ranch after passing through few small rios, the American owned pine jungles and the mud filled peatonals. My sandals wont hold in the mud. I jumped on the horse.  The final stretch was the worst.. an 80 degrees ascend. I could see the ranch. But it was already three hours in to the track. Bernardo tricked me with time. But he insisted that he does it in hour and a half. He lied to me because he needed some company and because he liked my company. We were both laughing. Bernardo is a very simple country man. 
The awful ranch and the heavenly scenery  
The hundred year old kitchen, with the  intact platforms and the wood logs cooking
        Fernando, at the ranch had prepared a nice sun cocho     soup and rice and freshly brewed coffee con leche.            We had Demeq.. the best brandy available in Colombia.
       As soon as the Sun goes down, you hit the bed. Early to bed and early to rise is the trick in these remote areas as there is no lite, no wifi, no TV..nothing . Just you and the stars and the moon and the hissing of the birds and small insects.
When in bed at the ranch, I was recalling my last night's wish.. Some company, may be a horse ride and good meal…all realized… and for free with a new down to earth friend. Is it Karma ? With four blankets to ward off the chill, I was warm enough to have a good nite sleep after a day filled with risk of going alone with a stranger into the thick of the jungle and a tough trek.
The saviours, the well built. well fed and  well looked after

Luckily, the milk man was going to town next morning. Bernardo asked me I could go with him, if I don’t want to stay another day at the ranch. I nodded yes. Because Bernardo would have insisted to come with him to another ranch some four hours further up.I did not trust him any more with time now.
Towering Palm trees ,  highest in the world, welcoming us..with all their splendour
We came the shorter route this time and reached the highway in just hour and  half.I hitch-hiked back to town, Salento. Nobody does that in Colombia, I was told. I was crazy. But Hougo and family were great. Not only they dropped me in city centre but took me out for a herbal tea and a chit chat. We exchanged contacts and parted.Am I lucky or are Colombian people so hospitable and welcoming?
The Hougo family, my new friends, gave me ride and entertained over herbal tea
Worried Roberto, the manager, back at the hostel, asked where was I last night? Perhaps the old man had forgotten my phone call to him.
Mind blowing beauty of the coffee  plantation, Salento
Ever welcoming , the coffee beans ready for harvesting, Ocasa finca, Salento
In the Eje Cafetero for two days…and I have yet to see the beautiful  Valle de Cocora and visit a coffee garden.. the two main attractions here. Roberto suggested I visit El Ocasa Finca…which is just half an hour walk. I walked forty minutes and asked a lady on the motorbike. How far?..She said another hour. Hahaha the Colombian distances and times...never trust. Looking at my innocent tired face…she offered me the ride. Forty minutes of walk through the Ocasa Finca, included a thorough knowledge of seeding, harvesting and the process involved… ending with a freshly brewed cup of coffee.

A cold shower , a trucha fish dinner and a beer ma-------de me sleep well into the nite.

Viva Colombia and her people.!! 

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Other photos taken enroute Peidra Balanca ranch and Valle de Cocora, Salnto, Zona Cafeteria

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