After another long journey, 12 hours, 3 buses and an almost sleepless night (no Alex, we are still not looking into buying a bike), we arrived early (indecently early) in Salento. This quiet village in the Zona Cafetera region was very sleepy when we got off the bus but it looked promising. Our bus driver, who was a gem, a very lively one (do I dare say too lovely for 5 am?!), decided to take care of our lack of accommodation. He phoned his buddy who welcomed us on the main square to bring us to his place. We were not certain of what was we would find but we were happy to receive a warm welcome and a place to call home for a few days. We were positively surprised to find a cozy double room at an affordable price! No dorm with loud travelers! No bathroom sharing with strangers who clearly left their sense of cleanliness at home! No bunk bed that almost looked like it could fall, shall the person in the upper bed decide to slightly move! (Yes this is how bad a bunk bed can be!). Fernando was surely a guardian angel sent to us by karma!
Instead of catching up on our sleep, we decided to make the most out of our day in Salento and hike the 6-hour loop. Jumping on one of the first jeeps, we reached the wooden entrance gate (known as the blue door among the locals) before the tsunami of tourists AND hiked under a lovely blue sky, avoiding the heavy rains that arrow do later that day. We did have some light rain but nothing that could have ruined our happiness to be hiking (twice in two days!!). We really enjoyed walking through fields – even though a curious calf followed us too closely to my liking (my friends know that I have a problem with cows. Whatyougonnado, I think they are evil and plan to take over the world soon), hiking up a muddy and slippery trail, walking across ill-looking hanging bridges (as I say: ‘if it ain’t ill-looking, it ain’t worth crossing’), tasting some coffee with homemade cheese (now THIS is deliciously weird), listening to the silence of the beautiful forest and finally wandering through a field full of Quindio wax palms (which were once on the verge of extinction).
We ambitiously thought that we would make it to a bar that night to meet Hans (you know our friend we got to know Cabo who happened to be in Medellin at the same time than us) as we were happy to see him again. Well our comfy bed(s) refused to let us leave and by 9pm we were having a rendez-vous with Morpheus. The next day brought rain and a wave of cold, which was clearly a sign that we had to dedicate that day to do… nothing but chill in a cozy coffee place and treat ourself to a chocolate cake. We definitely had worse days! We agreed to go out with Hans for one beer in the evening and have an early night. The following day we were aiming to have an early start (you gotta love those 6 am buses… not) and ambitiously travel 9 hours to the warm desert of Tatacoa.
Salento had another plan for us: we had (un)fortunately picked a celebration night (viva Mary the Virgin) to go to a street bar where drunk cowboys (after an interesting parade through the town) had parked their horses, were downing some arqudiente shots (surreal image, straight out of a cowboy movie!) and were furiously dancing salsa on the streets. A few liters of Aquardiente and some street salsa dancing with locals later, it was clear (or not that clear since our minds were clouded by Aquardiente) that we had to forget this ridiculous plan of ours. We were going nowhere at 6 when still drinking at 3 am.
Traveling does take a lot of our energy and we rarely go out but this was a fun fun night and a good way to practice our Spanis. They say that you can speak any language fluently when you are drunk, they might have a point. We eventually went home and after wishing for a Big Mac (oh junk food, where are you when I need you?!) to go over a tiny hangover, we made it to the bus station (better late than ever) where we bumped into Hans who wasn’t in a better state than us. It was time to say goodbye as we knew for sure that we wouldn’t bump into each other anymore in Colombia. Adios Hans, adios Salento. Thank for a fun night. Next stop: Desierto de la Tatacoa!