Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Zona Cafeteria..Manisales, Pereira, Salento and Armenia

Zona Cafetora 20March-28March       Colombia 19Jan-06April2013...

Eje Cafeteria 
Coffee, the finest organic suspension ever devised. ---Star Trek: Voyager
The sky touching wax palm trees in the Vally de Cocora.
I flew back from Leticia to Cali to experience the most beautiful Zona cafeteria.I was unable to visit before because of the Coffee producers strike.

“A man on foot, on horseback or on a bicycle will see more, feel more, enjoy more in one mile than the motorized tourists can in a hundred miles.” ~ Edward Abbey
  Once inside the Zona Cafeteria, things started changing and I had perhaps the most exhilarating nine days of explorations  filled with surprises and adventure.And it was equally difficult to say good bye to Zona Cafetria.  Three departments  (provinces) Caldas, Quindio and Risardla comprise the Zona Cafeteria. 
“Coffee - the favorite drink of the civilized world.” 
― Thomas Jefferson
This region's terraced slopes provide the perfect enviornment for the  coffee to grow with the climate and precipitation levels being great.

Filled with snow capped Mountains, green lush  valleys,the spectacular Andean peaks, the aroma of the freshly brewed coffee, the towering palm trees, the flower decorated roads, the thermales, the Cuisine,the  landscape, the heavenly beauty of the parque national de nevodas, traditions,  customs, the architecture and above all the most freindliest people.
would say that no visit is complete to Colombia  without  the Zona Cafeteria experience.
on earth.

Tourists don’t know where they’ve been, travelers don’t know where they’re going.” ~ Paul Theroux

“Adventure in life is good; consistency in coffee even better.” 
― Justina ChenNorth of Beautiful

A nite's stop in Cali and I took the first available bus to Manisales.
The capital city is very beautiful with its mountainous topography and a zip line connecting the lower part of the city to the top of the mountain near the university area.
By the evening I was enjoying all the beauty of the city..The spring bath. 
Herbal hot water bath
 at he a thermales
Rejuvenating and reaxing in the thermales of Marisales

The long walk along the Plaza Cable. The nite life.. with nite clubs, bars and restaurants ..the feel of the university atmosphere exists even in the evening with students scattered all over drinking in the bars and some, who cannot afford, outside drinking and  smoking.Very vibrant.
I could not go to the Parque National Natural because of the mud slides and here I lost  my favorite diary in which  I had all the notes.Felt bad for myself.
Fresh fruit the field


Not a favorite stop with the tourists as it is only a commercial hub.. I stopped  because I had a friend there..was lucky to be  staying over nite in the family farm house .. there was a family get together for Santa Semmna holidays and  Carolina, my host, mom´s birthday.
Ruby's birthday the farm house.
 I swear nobody was drunk
I was humbled and felt very honored to be invited to the family union. Except for few, nobody understood my English. All spoke Spanish.Lots of fun though.. vino, whisky, board games, on going country cooking with home grown vegetables and the best coffee..
Nothing like freshly brewed morning coffee
The ajihoke soup, the fresca juice...
To me the smell of freshly made coffee is
one of the greatest invention
the dancing cha cha and of course the salsa and the merrnge. The farm is set in a gorgeous spot overlooking the best ever scenery of the manicured small mountain.


Left Pereira early afternoon for Salento with Carolina and her aunt Idalba and the artist friend Juan where Diana... my Couch surfing host back from Belize , Favio and Sabrina Luisa were waiting for us.

The city was full of tourists both local and foreign  jamming the narrow streets .. full with handicrafts made by locals. Went up the hill to miradore to see the valley de Cocora down below.

Reunion of friends in Salento
A coffee picker in centro Salento.Idalba & Ashok
Carolina..alls miles after climbing
up to the Miradore in Salento
Great times together..Salento
A out of the ordinary scene..lush green.. hills, the treed valley down with a  rio  flowing silently and the winding road. One of the best sceneries I saw in Colombia. Shared some drinks with Idalba, Luisa, Caroilina, Favio, Juan,Diana, ... in a bar with a lovely lady singing beautiful  Spanish country .
Almost there ..Miradore..Diana & ashok
Was lucky to get a hostel room in a dorm.These days I dont even book in advance.All the hostels and hotels were booked solid for the holiday crowd.
Saw Diana and friends off at the bus stop. Carolina and Idalba had left earlier back for Pereira.Had a arrepa con natural queso..just delicioso from a old lady at the corner and a paltanol with 
The coffee carriers all set for the long journey
Four days in Salento, yet to see the most beautiful ..the Valle de Corcora. The wax palm trees here are over 60 meters high..the tallest in the world.
The other day I tried and ended up in the Peridra blanca mountaina..some 6000feet high up almost closer to Tolima...see the Adveture in Zona Cafeteria
Willy, the Jeep has been a ride for coffee
 pickers and formers for generations

I thought that I will just go for couple of hours in the morning and return by noon via the Willy, the Jeep and go to Cajamarca to stay overnite with Diana and on to Bogota.
Encountered lots of old bridges
 and creeks and rivers
But the Willy,  wont return back from Valle del Corcora till 230PM. I had four hours to enjoy and explore..not planned.The only options there are the hikes. I chose the four hours return hike to Acaime . I did not come prepared..I had sandals on, no  cap, no umbrella and no sun screen. Still I  went on.
The path was not bad actually except for few Kilometers..where it was all mud.I had to manipulate via the stones in the mud.I came through ok without getting muddy.

Trave brings power
 and love back in to life..RumiUMI
It was again almost 6-7000 feet high mountains.
We returned from a different mountain Montana.. It was awesome with a clear view of the Palm trees and one the best valley beauty down.Little cloudy but it changed dramatically in a little time.

Return via the Montana..was easy
.started with no visibilty.
Palm trees in their glory .
.as high as 60 meters 
The sandals did it. Of the thousands of people hiking, I did not see a single person wearing sandals. I was the only one. I was lucky, it did not rain either.
The wax trees are spectacular..Simply stunning.
The national  tree of Colombia
A tough hike ended happily.Had beer with Erik and his girl friend Jacky..the Canadians I met along and hiked together.It was just a coincidence that they live just west of me on Granville and Broadway in Vancouver.And they come from the Prairies home.. where I spent almost 30 years.
Rested a little in the hostel and went out for dinner ..had a delicious meal of Callana de Barro.
Little tired para mucho hiking everyday in the last three days continuously. But I enjoyed every bit of Salento. I could have stayed even longer. The journey must go on...Adios , Salento..Off to Armeina.

A dancing couple ..centro Armenia.
It took only two hours  in the bus from Salento to Armenia. Hired a taxi for two hours, the driver cum guide took me around. Centro, the Legislative building, and all the rest. Wandered around in central square. Had one of the best tasting coffee off the street vendor..Cafe de leche.. perfect to my taste. Just delicioso.Delicious fruit juices... vendors are every where pouring out the maracuya, mango and guanabana. Coffe cookies are the speciality here.

 Took the late afternoon bus to go to Diana's at Cajamarca.Stayed overnite with her. We went to the only bakery cum restaurant in  town. It was full as if the whole town has congregated here. Cajamarca is best known for its gold rush days.


No comments:

Post a Comment