We are in Colombia!!! We LOVE this country, the landscapes are beautiful, the cities are very lively, and people are so, so nice! We flew from Quito into Bogota and, the next day, we went straight to the coffee plantation area, to a small place called Salento. The distance from Bogota seems very short on the map (it is around 300 km) but as you need to drive across windy roads through the Andes, not to mention trying to squeeze passed oversized lorries carrying big loads, it took 8 hours to get there! We arrived around 7, only to find out that the room we had booked in a nice looking hostel, inside a coffee plantation, had been given to another couple! We weren’t happy, but found a small place run by a very friendly owner.

We liked Salento straight away. The town doesn´t seem to have changed much in the last 100 years, and the pretty colourful town soon relaxes you! All the houses were painted in two or three colours, and most seemed to be selling beautiful crafts of some description! The people of the area were very friendly and polite, always saying “Con mucho gusto” (“My pleasure!”). There was plenty to do around the area, but we decided to relax and spend most of our time talking to locals, browsing through the craft shops, eating great food at Las Mariposas and Barroco and, of course, drinking coffee!

We went to two organic coffee plantations, both 30 minutes walk from the town. Don Elias´farm was run by a small and very hospitable family. Don Elias, the owner and grandfather, took us around his small farm where they grow coffee trees, bamboo, bananas, pineapples and berries. He showed how he produces his coffee, mostly by hand! It´s a relatively simple process, but you have to do it with great care if you want to have good coffee! He is a great guy, very interesting and keen to show us around his farm and introduce us to his family. One of his daughters, who is a singer, gave us an impromptu show! He has built a very small and basic hostel on his land, great if you want to live on an organic coffee farm getting to know a great family! The second farm was much larger. Everything that  Don Elias would do by hand, it was done with machines here. The technology was bigger and more advanced, and it was interesting to see both ways of doing it. They had also built a beautiful hotel with amazing views of the valley below!

Estamos en Colombia!!! Nos ENCANTA! Los paisajes son preciosos, las ciudades son muy animadas y la gente es tan, tan amable! Volamos desde Quito hasta Bogota y al dia siguiente, nos fuimos directamente a la zona cafetera, a un pequeño pueblito llamado Salento. La distancia desde Bogota parece pequeña en el mapa (son aproximadamente 300 km) pero como hay que atravesar los Andes por carreteras sinuosas y compartir las carreteras con multiples camiones de carga, se tarda 8 horas en llegar!!! Llegamos a las 7, hartos y cansados, solo para descubrir que la habitacion que habiamos reservado en un hotel dentro de una plantacion de cafe, ya se la habian dado a alguien mas! Por suerte, encontramos habitacion en un pequeño hostal donde la dueña era muy agradable.

Salento nos gusto desde el primer momento. El pueblo no ha cambiado mucho en los ultimos 100 años, y sus colores y atmosfera tranquila enseguida te relajan. Todas las casas estan pintadas de dos o tres colores y hay muchas tiendas de artesanias preciosas. La gente es muy amable y educada, no paraban de decir “Con mucho gusto” (que es mucho mejor que nuestro soso “de nada” o “sin problemas”). Hay mucho que ver por el area, pero pronto decidimos pasar el tiempo tranquilamente hablando con la gente del pueblo, mirando las tiendas de artesania, comiendo la deliciosa comida de los restaurantes Las Mariposas y Barroco y, por supuesto, bebiendo cafe!

Fuimjos a dos granjas organicas de cafe que estan a unos 30 minutos del pueblo caminando. La granja de Don Elias es pequeña y la lleva una familia muy acogedora. Don Elias, el propietario, nos enseño la plantacion, donde, ademas de cafe, tienen arbloes, bambu, platanos, piñas y moras. Tambien nos enseño el proceso de hacer cafe, !casi todo lo hace a mano! Nos sorprendio que el proceso es relativamente sencillo, aunque hay que hacerlo con gran cuidado para obtener un buen cafe. Don Elias es muy amable y un hombre muy interesante. Se notaba que le gustaba enseñar su granja y nos presento a su familia. Una de sus hijas, que es cantante, nos ofrecio un show improvisado. Ademas de tener la granja y abrirla a los turistas, han construido un pequeño hostal al lado de la casa, un sitio  fantastico si quieres ver como funciona la granja y conocer a la familia. La segunda granja que visitamos era mucho mas grande y todo estaba automatizado. La tecnologia estaba mas desarrollada y fue interesante ver las dos maneras de procesar cafe. Ellos tambien tenian un hotel muy acogedor con vistas estupendas del valle!

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