There’s so much beauty to see in Colombia and on top of that the people we met were fantastic.
Off to the coffee plantation with our great friends, Bernardo and Krystina. First of all, I would like to thank Christian, one who can’t stand the smell of coffee for doing a tour with me here. I looked online to find a tour and with some luck I found one outside the cutest town, Salento at the base of the Valle de Cocora. We took the tour and a million pictures to capture the moment of sipping this fine cafe in the coolest cup. (The cup made many appearances in the show Narcos, so it had to be genuine.) Here are some pictures of the cafeteros(coffee plantation towns) and Valle de Cocora.
While we were in and out of the cafetero towns we slept at a cafe/rest stop in the middle of the highway for five nights. They had wifi and clean bathrooms, which has a huge appeal these days. We spent a day visiting the town Salento that sits just above the Valle de Cocora. Later that evening a local shared invaluable information about a road behind his restaurant that would take us from Salento to a town called Toche. The drive between the two towns is untouched and has an exuberant amount of Cocora wax palm trees, the tallest palm trees in the world. The touristy Valle de Cocora had nothing on the amount trees we saw on this drive, for miles it’s all one could see. It would take us about a week to go thirty-five miles through this portion of the Andes Mountains over a gravel road, the views are out of this world. We went camping for a night in the touristy portion of Valle de Cocora and hiked through it the next day.
The next morning we stocked up on food, water and essentials for a new adventure to find where all the real wax palms lived. The road was not in our GPS so really we were just going off of what this stranger told us almost blindly. We were with our friends and traveling as two vehicles feels safer and gave us all the confidence to do it. The first day we got a late start and probably only made it seven miles where we found some space off the side of the road to camp for the night. We parked over tons of wood, made a huge fire after dinner and tried to come up with ghost stories. It was pitch black out, no one around for miles and then in the trees behind a vehicle we heard a woman’s voice. Everyone jumped and we all turned on our bright LED lights, Christian of course grabbed the machete. I told them “I know I heard it from inside their camper.” So Bernardo took an axe and went in to investigate. “AHHHH, I mean Oh it’s the bluetooth speaker turning off.” The ghost stories seized right there.
We all got up pretty early the next morning so we could make the long trek to reach this minute town called Toche. When we arrived we asked the local store attendant where we could camp and sleep for the night. He invited us to stay on to his farm that was next to a river. It was perfect for us, other than when he wakes up for work he blasts dance music at 5:30am like his is dj’ing for a wedding. The guys went trout fishing in the river and chased after the farmer’s chickens with a bow and arrow around the farm. It couldn’t have been more relaxing, so we stayed for three nights. Relaxing eventually gets one restless so we figured lets head up to the Volcano and check out the hot springs here. The four of us piled into The Globe Trol up a mountain and over the worst road ever we went. We spent the day hiking and after we tried to relax with a dip into an odd concrete thermal pool off the side of the road. The goal is to always make it to camp before sunset, it was about that time. Sunset was on our heels so we piled back into The Globetrol and down the gravel road we bounced until I asked Christian to pull over. I thought our friend’s dog was acting weird and possibly needed to go to the bathroom. We hopped back into the van, immediately Christian noticed the check engine light was on and the oil pressure dropped to nothing. He ripped the keys out of the ignition parked us in the middle of a one lane road on a mountain. Our oil pan had met a piercing rock and every drop of oil lead to a trail up the road to the culprit.
We were stuck; miles from the country’s smallest town, in the dark and blocking the road. Christian waited hours for the engine and oil pan to cool before he tried to repair it enough for us to make it to the closest farm. The plan was Christian was going to try and seal the oil pan with silicone and put our old oil that we just so happened to be lugging around with us, back into the van. Then he could drive the van just to the closest farm and park it for the night to wait for morning and make a new plan. Krystina stayed with Christian in case he needed any help with speaking spanish to a nearby neighbor. The father of the family took Bernardo and myself on his tiny motorcycle back to their vehicle parked at the farm near the town. Bernardo and I were going to brake down camp by the river in the dark and bring their camper up to where The Globe Trol was. This all played out until we woke up the next morning and Krystina and Bernardo had a flat, so we had another farmland repair on the spot. The silicone held up throughout the night, the guys fixed the flat and off we went. If Christian would have waited another ten seconds to turn off the vehicle, our engine would have seized up and it would have been the end of this adventure.