The ultimate country, number 6 of 6, the last stop. Colombia was it, the final jump in the South American journey.
This time I decided to stick to a schedule.
Huh? What was that. 6 months, no plan no schedule, oh this is gonna be hard.
But actually it wasn't, we wanted coffee and coffee we would have. So that was the plan,we will spend our last 2 weeks together drinking coffee in the coffee region of Salento.
Back to coffee, I mean Colombia.
First stop was Cali, and our first slice of Colombia was the rise in price. Not only was there 3000 peso to £1 everything was a little bit more pricey than Ecuador. Our poor stingy wallets couldn't handle it.
However you got more for your money, our hostel room had free unlimited coffee and even a fan in the room. I'd say pretty much luxury.
In fact it was so nice being back in a hostel after a month living with host families, which was great, but being back with other travellers and speaking English again was strangely homely.
Especially as it was our last few days together we decided to give couchsurfing and Workaway a rest for the time being an enjoy the flexibility of going where ever we wanted whenever we wanted.
So the next day we took the journey in the expensive (but nice bus) to Salento, the famous coffee region of the north, with one aim. To overdose on coffee and not to leave until we had.
Salento was beautiful, in fact all the scenery so far in Colombia was magical. I didn't know what I was expecting of this country, but wow, this was special. It has to be seen to be believed but it is like living in mother nature's dream world. Abundance of waterfalls, cascading hills and HUGE palm trees. (Fun fact: Colombia is home to the tallest Palm trees in the world)
Surely a hike among this natural beauty would be nothing but incredible. So we took on the 12k hike in the Cocora Valley.
Remember how I told you I wasn't in to hiking?Yeah I'm still not.
It was beautiful, it really was, but my knnneees!! I'm such an old women.
When we finally reached the top, my pain was eased by the dozen of humming birds literally skimming past your ears. We watched in fascination at these rare creatures. They are so tiny, yet so elegant.
See what I mean(thank God I'd bought a decent camera the day before)
But then there was the next day. Oh the next day. What a day.
A coffee lovers dream, floating through the coffee farms that produces the best beans in the world.
The farm was only an hour walk from our hostel through bannana trees, cobbled paths and complete seclusion with every wisp of breeze carrying with it the sweetest scent of coffee. You couldn't make this stuff up.
We arrived at Don Elias coffee farm, a family run farm set on 4 hectares that exports 8 tons of their organic beans each year. This place was a magical, organic, non treated, natural coffee jungle teeming with life with plants fighting each other for space.
Dons grandson happily gave us a private tour, speaking with genuine enthusiasm like it was the first tour he had ever made. He talked us through the whole coffee process which was absolutely fascinating, and also taught me how naive I am. COFFEE IS GROWN FROM A FRUIT. why didn't I know this? Mind blown. In fact it originates as a flower. I feel so wise now.
We walked around the whole farm while listening to the fairly simple coffee production process along the way.
It goes a little something like this (the tour was in Spanish so maybe it doesn't?!)
1. Pick the fruits- Either Arabica fruits that are red or Colombian fruits that are yellow.
2. Peal the fruit to magically reveal a coffee bean covered in a sweet housing
3. Soak the bean in water for 24 hours
4. Dry the bean in the sun for 8 days to 3 weeks (depending g on weather)
5. Toast until Brown
We went through the whole process with him, apart from the waiting 8 days-3 weeks, all under the Colombian Sun with no on else around but the dogs in the fields and the fish in the river.
Then it was time... time to serve our very own hand produced organic Colombian coffee. I honestly think my life had been leading up to this day. To this moment. I had such high hopes, life changing visions.
As we waited the 3 long minutes for our coffee to be brewed I weighed up my options on what to do if this brown gold didn't live up to my expectations.
A. Pretend it's the most wonderful thing that has ever reached my lips, dramatically jump for joy and shout across the valley that my life will never be the same.
B. Cry, sit in a corner and sign up to a Starbucks loyalty card
Lucky for me, any doubts dissolved into the first sip of the finest, smoothest, sweetest coffee I had ever tasted.
And I am not doing that justice.
I hate to conform to stereotype, but wow is Colombian coffee the best in the world.
If I could of bottled that moment, I would have taken it to the grave with me.
Don Elias you God. Give me some of your Colombian finest. I must take this home and introduce it to the UK. (Coming to a mug near you soon. You can bring the biscuits)
But why let the coffee tasting stop there. I kid you not, we spent the next 48 hours drinking as much as the black stuff as we could.
Then something funny happened. Caffeine took the opposite effect. I got hit by a sudden wall of tiredness (after all drinking coffee is very tiring) so much so I has to go back to the hostel and nap. Hmmmm. This is not the desire effect I hoped for. However not to worry, I couldn't sleep properly for the next 2 days so that made up for it.
It appeared I had in fact overdosed on Colombians finest.
Coffee you wonderful evil creature, why are you so much fun.
The next day I promised to cut down and consumed only 2 cups before 12pm.
Salento was a lovely steeply town and we spent 3 relaxing days breathing in the fresh mountain air and eating far to many patacons (a bannana bread with cheese)
As Ryan needed to get back to Quito for his flight we bussed it back down to Cali to spend yet another 3 days relaxing an drinking coffee and visiting the local zoo.
Note the last images perfect timing....
** Traveller Tips***
We stayed in La Floresta hostel in Solento, which was awesome, so clean and the staff were so helpful. They were full the first day we arrived but they let us sleep in a tent in the back garden
6 Bed Dorm 19k pesos
We stayed twice in Iguana hostel in Cali, probably the best hostel we've stayed in in South America. The manager is incredible and will do anything to help. They have a really good kitchen and offer free salsa classes.
4 Bed Dorm 20k