Okaaaaaaay mum I get it, I need to write more blog. I don’t even have a valid excuse as to why I haven’t been more vigilant with my blog. It’s too hot in Girardot? True, but basically I’m just a terrible person.
Semana Santa feels like a lifetime ago, but it needs to be documented in any case, cause I had a pretty special time.
It started off with a trip up to Bogota to the house of my wonderful Colombian adoptive family. A very typical thing for Colombians to do during long weekends, or holidays, is to go to a “finca”, which is usually a holiday home in a hot climate (Girardot, for example, is where alot of Bogota-neans come to enjoy their fincas, usually equipped with aircon and a pool. They should be so lucky arrrrrgh). I was invited to go with my Colombian family, to the finca of their good family friends near Villavicencio. Villavicencio is approx a 3 hour drive from Bogota, and is a warm climate- slightly cooler than Girardot. The finca was one of a number of other properties, inside a gated entrance. The house was beautiful. Spacious, open, big pool, hammocks to relax, and an outdoor bar and eating area. We were greeted by ranchera music, and went inside to chat and of course, drink beer.
What you do at a finca, is basically eat, drink, and chill out. I’m not very good at chilling out, so I was delighted when on our last day, we did a day trip to go white water raftiiiiiiiing! Yaaaaaaaas! We drove for maybe 2 hours, around the Meta region, until we got to a gorgeous spot with a crazy river. I’m not certain anymore cause I’m an idiot, but I’m pretty sure the river was called cubarral. Anyway, I was a little scared because I’m not really an extreme sports kinda gal. But, true to the YASSSSSSSS mentality I have been trying out, I did it, I stayed on the boat even when they told us that a really big rapid was coming up and we could hop off if we wanted to, and I had an amazing time. I literally laughed the whole way down the river. And the scenery was breathtaking. If you are ever in the region, I recommend it!
After a few days at the finca, I met my lovely friend Mark in Bogota. We had one night there, and were able to aprovechar the theatre festival, attending a very bizarre amateur acrobatic performance. The venue was in the super trendy Chapinero, and was full of trendy people and buzzy furniture. The show itself seemed to provide some kind of social commentary, but one which was clearly way over my head, as I tried my hardest to keep up with the girl who kept dropping her juggling balls all over the floor, or the girl who fell over more than once. After the show we were obviously hungry (when am I not?), so we did the obvious thing, and bought buffalo wings, and ate them in the hotel room on the bed. Tragique.
The next day we got up bright and early to catch the bus to Armenia. This is super simple, and doesn’t require any pre-booking. Just rock up to the terminal, pick your company (I recommend Bolivariano or Velotax, where possible), and buy the next ticket outta there. The trip to Armenia from Bogota takes approx 8 hours. It’s a bit of a nasty journey with super winding roads, so unless you have a steel gut like me, probably don’t eat too much beforehand. Lolz.
We arrived in Armenia and met up with the lovely Sarah-Kate. After finding cake at a nearby pasteleria (v. Important), we hopped in a local bus and crossed our fingers that it would take us where we needed to go. We actually hopped off at the wrong stop, then had to find a second bus, but eventually we arrived at the gorgeous finca that Sarah-Kate found on airbnb. The finca was somewhere between Armenia and Filanda. Closer to Filandia. It was a huge piece of land, that a lovely Argentinian couple had built on, which had a number of guest houses. Actually, we had an entire house to ourselves.
In the morning, we woke up to a stunning view (seriously, the coffee region is divino), went up to the main house where our host served us the perfect, gigantic breakfast, then got ready to head to Salento, to do the famous Valle del Cocora hike. To get to Salento, you can do a somewhat complicated combination of local buses. Or you can be a lazy loaf, and catch a Willy. I of course think this name is absolutely hysterical. It is in fact the name of the type of Jeep they use as their taxis in this region. Grow up Anna.
So we hopped in a Willy (lolz) and went up to the Valle del Cocora. To be honest, the first bit of this walk is hell. I estimate about 200 million people decided to do this walk at the same time that we did, so as you can imagine, 200 million people on a small narrow track is a bit hectic. To make matters worse, half of these idiots were on HORSES. So every 5 seconds, you have to stop and move to the side so that the horses can pass through. I felt pretty infuriated to be honest.
Anyway, much to my delight, no one is as intrepid as us, and the crowd started thinning out as soon as we reached a slight hill. Kind regards to all.
The rest of the walk was super. We got pretty lost which is always a crack up to hike 10x more hills than required. But we got there eventually- the best part of the walk is actually the end, where you finally enter the area which is filled with the famous palm trees. It was pretty freaking special. So we spent some time selfie-ing, then got on our merry way.
After the walk, we were three very hungry (and sunburnt) babies. We made our way to Salento in another, absolutely packed Willy (like 6 people sitting, and 6 people (us included) crammed together standing up in the back of the jeep). Salento is cute, but actually I would recommend Filandia more. Salento is super popular now, and it has that weird feeling about it, where you know there are a bunch of reeeeeeaaaal chill travellers, who just kind of went there, and ended up working in a bar there, cause they’re reeeeeal chill. Filandia on the other hand, is a bit smaller, a bit less popular, a bit cuter, and just a bit more of a delight.
The next day was basically one big fail. We were supposed to visit a coffee farm. We were running out of cash, so we headed to the town centre to find an ATM. Of course, on this very special day, every single ATM was out of order. So basically, our one and only really cool option was to abandon our plan, and head back to Armenia, where we would catch the bus back to our homes, using the dribs and drabs of pesos that we had left over. The coolest bit was that it was all our fault.
One cute thing I would like to comment on about the long journey home, was Mark’s dinner. Our bus had a little stop in Ibague. Mark, at the last minute, decided that he would like to eat. Pretty much as soon as he got his meal, the bus started hooting maniacally, signalling that it was leaving. Left with no other option, Mark requested a plastic bag, slopped his chicken and lentil stew into the plastic bag, and ran onto the bus. We got some wonderful stares as we walked down the aisle to our seats. Not only were we the weird gringos at the back, now we were also carrying a plastic bag full of lentil stew. Happy happy memz.
All in all, the coffee region (or, the small bit of it that I did see), is absolutely gorgeous. The hilly green landscape, the delicious and abundant coffee, the mild climate, and the lovely people, make it a totally special place to be. 10/10 and I will definitely be returning.