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30 November – 5 December 2013

Sandra was also going to Salento so we had an early breakfast and walked the short distance to the local bus that took us to the bus terminal. Here we got a bus to Pereira where we changed bus to Salento arriving mid afternoon.... In her I've found my match in negotiating prices – she haggles about everything from bus tickets to an apple- of course for the savings but also just for the fun of it. We decided to stay at an eco lodge outside town and walked the 1½ kilometer to the hostel arriving just as it began pouring down.... a little more expensive than normal but it was a nice place and breakfast was included.... Shortly after we walked back to town to look around and do some shopping. I wore my “new” used boots and to my great disappointment water came in as through a pipe.... it rained heavily but still I wasn't expecting a lake in my boots after less than 5 minutes (they are supposedly waterproof).... We walked around the very touristic town – fortunately it was still before the major tourist season sets in but the stands/shops (especially all kinds of handicrafts) make it clear from what the locals make a living... The 8 person dorm was full so not much sleep during the night....

The next morning we went up to small mountain town Finlandia. First a free bus ride down to the main road and then a long waiting time for the bus to Finlandia that is supposedly more authentic/less touristic than Salento. It probably is under normal circumstances, but it was Sunday – all Columbian's day off and where most go somewhere; this Sunday a lot went to Finlandia! Again the morning weather was soso but at least it wasn't raining. The center was busy so after a short round we decided instead to walk around the outskirts of town – by the look of the locals not many tourists come here; especially not foreigners... though everybody was friendly and we got to see a more authentic side of life in Columbia... Back at the hostel we spent part of the evening re-organising our stuff as we would leave most of it going for a two day hike in Valle de Cocora....

We got up early but as we had to wait for breakfast until 7am we couldn't make the 7.30 jeep with the 1½ kilometer walk into town. Not to worry – at the hostel they told us there were jeeps every half hour at from 8.30 so we timed our arrival. No jeep until 9.30 which was quite annoying when it was a rare nice morning and we knew the clouds/rain would come in during the day – most likely around noon.... Anyway, we got on the jeep and arrived at the park 30 minutes later and headed out. Once again it had been raining most of the previous afternoon, evening and night so we knew it would be muddy – and muddy it was! Especially in the beginning where the hiking and horse trail was the same – we climbed a barbed wire and walked on parallel fields though it had its cost as I ripped my rain cover (poncho) and got my balls fried on an electric fence. After the valley we walked through the forest crossing rivers 7 times on what looked to be fragile bridges but fortunately they were more sturdy than they looked.. We had planned to walk 4-5 hours up to Estrella de Agua where we would camp for the night. However, after a lunch break early afternoon it began pouring down so we took cover at Acaime – a private house offering warm drinks to hikers. The owner told us it was a long steep climb without much to see (especially on a cloudy/rainy day) so we decided to stay at his place – also because we hadn't seen any flat areas to wildcamp along the way. The same was the case at Acaime but the owner allowed pitching the tent in his half finished new house – my tent has only one pole so nails were required. Fortunately it's not the first time it happens so I of course brought nails... Not very adventurous but pleasant to sleep inside as it (again) poured down all night making everything damp but not wet...

Up early next morning to a rare blue sky though before we finished breakfast clouds appeared over the mountains. As we climbed the mountain more clouds came in and when we reached the top views were limited... We continued down on the other side and to our great surprise we got a very nice view of the valley with all it's wax palms … A leisurely walk down and a quick lunch before getting the jeep back to Salento. Our hostel had increased prices by 15% because it was december (beginning of busy season) so we found another hostel where we left most of our stuff. Then an hours walk to Don Elias' coffee finca were we did an hours tour. Having visited many coffee farms there was no new information but Elias himself did the tour on his organic farm where everything is done manually – a friendly and cosy, old man taking his time to explain everything in detail. Beautiful location in a valley by the river and unlike the last finca I visited in Minca this was really good coffee. On the way back to our new hostel closer to town we picked up all our stored stuff from the first hostel and were lucky to get a ride on the back of a jeep....

Sandra left for Medellin the next morning while I decided to spend 2 more days relaxing, reading and updating my homepage – another good exercise in patience; with a better internet connection the work could have been done in 2-3 hours; now it took 2 full days... Decent weather in the mornings but from late morning it was puring down – quite nice to be indoor listening to the rain on the roof. And then I must elaborate my previous statement – it's not only young people who don't know how to behave in a dorm... Two older people (a lot older than me) might have benefitted from sharing a room – she was snoring and farting loudly all night and he came back late (a bit drunk) and was noisy for an hour before finally passing out...  

 
 
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