My favorite place in Colombia was definitely Salento. Even though it took an entire day to get there and I wasn’t feeling very well, Salento really stole my heart. Nestled between Medellin and Bogota, the coffee district is becoming more and more popular with tourists. The mountain view is simply stunning, and there are plenty of opportunities for the outdoorsy types.
It was late when I arrived at my hostel, but once I woke the next morning feeling a bit better, I walked outside and immediately knew why Goats on the Road said it was their favorite hostel of all time. The scenery from La Serrana is magical. It is like you are looking into another world. The hostel is about a 15 minute walk from the city center, but it is worth every second. It has several room options, all of which are pretty impressive. My one complaint was the lack of plugs in the room, but even that didn’t deter my glowing impression of the place. When the cook isn’t on strike, (which she was while I was there) they have family-style dinners and a bonfire. That was an unfortunate bummer, but doesn’t surprise me one bit about Colombia.
I met a girl at breakfast. Both of us are solo travelers so we made a plan to walk together to the coffee tour. Catie lives in the states and works with jumping horses. We had a lovely conversation on the way down the mountain towards the tour. Osaco coffee farm is about a 45 minute walk from the hostel, but you can also take an infamous Willy ride or rent some horses. We decided to walk. Catie and I could not stop talking about the luscious green landscape and rolling hills. Every few minutes we would stop our conversation to take in the world around us. Now, there is a massive sign indicating where the farm is, but if you are unobservant like us, you can miss it. Therefore, if you hit the eco hostel, you have gone too far.
Catie and I made our way into the farm and started the tour. Our guide, Anles was amazing! He spoke perfect English and had first-hand knowledge about the running of the farm and the coffee industry in Colombia. I have been drinking coffee all of my life and never really knew the whole process it took to get to my table. I also took for granted how accessible good coffee is in the United States. Most of the good coffee in Colombia is exported to the US. In fact, Anles explained that most Colombian’s never actually get good coffee, which is why the smother the taste with sugar and milk. Also, Osaco is recognized for taking really good care of its workers, and yet they made $14.50 a day. I can’t imagine picking coffee all day to only walk away with that amount. Anles tried to explain that room and board is completely taken care of, but I still was a bit uneasy about the discrepancy between those who pick the coffee and those who get to consume it. Once again, the wage gap is a continuous problem with the haves and have nots.
Sipping our perfectly crafted cups of coffee, Catie and I agreed that this was truly the life.
Then it was time to make our way back up the mountain. My stomach was still a little sensitive and cramped a bit on the assent. I think it was partly from my heavy breathing and partly from the coffee. But the views were once again spectacular and we stopped numerous times to get some photos. Back at the hostel, we took some naps, read a bit in the peacefulness that surrounded us and then made our way to the little village of Salento.
The center is a quaint little colonial town with lots of personality and plenty of things to do. There is a market along the main square and numerous shopping stores.
You can climb the 200+ steps to see a panoramic view of Salento (something I did not do. I was a bit done with stairs after Medellin). You can also play with the adorable street puppies. There was one that continued to follow us and play with my straps on my pack. He was adorable! I would have taken him home had it been the end of my adventure. Then Catie and I ate at this adorable place called Bernabe. The food was delicious and not super expensive! And the atmosphere is worth it as well. They have decent wifi and very informative and kind waiters.
Again, although I wasn’t 100% myself yet, I still enjoyed the wonderful company of a new friend and the simplicity and tranquility of the mountains. Salento was definitely worth the bus ride of doom I had endured the night before.