Rum and snow
22.10.2011 24 °C
I've just had the best few days on a coffee plantation near Manizales in Colombia, surrounded by beautiful mountains and colombian rum, can it really get better than this?!!
Anyway, prior to that there was Guatapaye, expectation was that of a small campsite by a lake in the sun in the middle of nowhere. We were wrong. There were a few hairy moments on the drive to Guatapaye, including a short drive the wrong way down the pan-american highway. Quite scary when you're in a huge truck. We eventually managed to get ourselves over the central reservation, narrowly missing several lamposts, but we did get caught by the police, so naturally we sent the non spanish speaking guide out to deal with the situation. Fortunately the took kindly to us and didn't kill us or worse, and we were sent on our way. We arrived on a bank holiday and the town was buzzing, usual "seaside" town type activities only with lakes, not sea. The scenery was amazing and we were all excited about ther prospect of pitching up and heading back to town to join in the fun. And then the heavens opened and they stayed open until the early hours of the following morning. There was much mud and rum and eventually a blocked toilet also (not fun when you have holiday tummy - if you catch my drift), there were cold showers and several falls in the mud. Needless to say the kayaking that was planned didn't happen.
The following day a few of us went for a hike around the ares with a local guide, which ended up being a guide and his family. It was so nice. They were shimmying up trees picking fruit for us, helping us with our spanish, sharing their food and generally enterrtaining us despite a huge language barrier. We walked up the massive rock (I forget the name but I will remember at some point), 700 steps in the balzing heat, we walked through the hills, had the local sweet tea with a monk (awkward) and didn't end up seeing the waterfalls as it was raining again. A great day out followed by a huge meal courtesy of my cook group of fajitas. Mmmmmm mmmm. And another 12 hours of rain and mud.
The following day we were all glad to get the hell out of the mud bath and headed towards Manizales where we were to stay on a coffee plantation. It took approx 2 mins for us all to upgrade from camping to hostel but we pretty much had the house to ourselves. It was pure luxury, hammocks on the veranda, rolling mountains, swimming pool, hot showers!!!! The first since Galapagos. Manizales is spectacular, huge mountains and amazing landscape, I think we could all have stayed much longer. The city was having a small crisis though. They are suffering a lot of landslides and the latest has resulted in the water supply being cut so the whole city is without water. It was crazy seeing them all queuing to collect water from the drains of the mountains. I think we were all very happy to be staying out of town where we had as much water as you needed.
Whilst on the coffe plantation we spent a morning being taught about coffee and being given a tour of the plantation, waded through the river and sucked on some raw beans. In the afternoon we toured the town. The following day we went up a volcano into high altitude, such a strange sensation but gladly noone suffered with any sickness. It was also strange to be having a snowball fight after being roasting hot on the beach a few days ago. After this we had the best evening ever! We had an argentinian chef come to the plantation and cok us a BBQ of chicken, beef, ribs, freshly cooked bread loads of salad and some very strong drinks too!. Then a local band arrived and played for us for a couple of hours. Much dancing and drinking and so much fun. We were all sad to leave today.
I have also seen the biggest moth in my whole life and a huge grasshopper. I'm so easily pleased.
So now we are in Cali after another long drive. We are planning on a night of salsa tonight and then we have a couple free days to explore. Hopefully will be slightly more successful than Medellin. Although with Kiwi's on board I think it's going to be a late one watching the rugby at some point. I have the ability to load some pics now but will do it tomorrow when I have more time.
Hope everyone is well back home. Another update soon xxxx