Salento

2018/06/07-2018/06/09

Day 1; Half of the first day was already gone when I arrived after a bus ride that took a bit longer then expected due to a landslide. I visited the viewpoint in the afternoon and again in the evening, visited the town and went for a swim in the pool of the hostel.

In the evening some card games and after that that a game of Tejo, a game with which you try to throw a small metal disc inside of a metal ring with small explosives. 9 points for an explosion and ending in the circle, 6points for in the circle, 3 for an explosion and 1 for the closest to the circle. The game goes till 21points.

Day 2; First a dive in the pool to wake up and next I went cycling together with a guy from the hostel, pretty much the same round as I had done 3years ago, coffee fam, and waterfall, this time I went alone to the waterfall and visited the other falls as well and the caves.

The way cycling up took a lot of effort, especially since the bike was a bit small, my knees came above the steering while peddling

Day 3; Starting with a swim in the ppol again. Preparing for a long trek, getting a map printed and plasticized, buying about 10kg of food for about 10days hiking and then joining a group for another coffee tour at a larger farm.

 

Some coffee facts;

In this area they grow mountain coffee, this coffee is abit more sour (I personly ,ike it less).

To protect the coffee plants from a certain type of insect that from the two beans of coffee only eat one bean, they grow fruit plants (some coffee fruits have 1, some 2 and some 3 seeds, the ones that have one seed apparently taste better, this is a special extra expensive type of coffee).

Another threat to the plants is a fungus, to prevent the fungus coffee seeds from another area, the hybrids are imported. Second generation is already less resistant, cross breeding I guess.

There are 3 types of coffee plants, Robusto, Arabic and one that isn’t grown really, because its grows slow and doesn’t taste good, they all originate from Africa.

Biggest coffee producers are Brasil, Colombia and Indonesia.

The plants have optimum production in the second and 3th year than they are cut and again have 3 good years, this can be done twice.

The beans are picked, moved through a machine to remove the peal, the sweet pulp is washed of (for honey coffee this is left and there is a fermentation process), the beans are dried, selected, and roasted.

The crappy coffee stays and is generally roasted longer so the worse taste is less obvious. The good coffee is in generally unroasted exported. Each country roasts it according to their preference, Italy long, Colombia traditional short, Netherland in the middle.

The biggest importer of Colombian coffee is Finland.

Tatacoa desert

2018/06/05-2018/06/06

♪ I’ve been through the desert on a horse with no name
It felt good to be out of the rain
In the desert you can remember your name
‘Cause there ain’t no one for to give you no pain
Lala la, lalalala… ♪

 

No horse, rain and no real desert either. The Tatacoa might look like a desert, but officially is none. It has been an old crater lake and when it dried up this is what was left. In the wet season there is almost every night rain, but it still looks very dry because of the blazing sun and the lack of plants, still this apparently the greenest fake desert of the world.

 

♪ On the first part of the journey
I was looking at all the life
There were plants and birds and rocks and things
There was sand and hills and rings
The first thing I met was a fly with a buzz
And the sky with no clouds
The heat was hot and the ground was dry
But the air was full of sound ♪

 

♪ On the first part of the journey ♪, I was given a ride by two guys on motorbikes, I was very glad because the sun had been very hot and walking next to the road not very exciting.

♪ There were plants ♪, mainly cacti, one small one had red flowers and after the flowers were gone something that looked like very brightly colored peppers.

♪ and birds ♪, lots of different types, bright yellow and red ones and one that lived in the cacti.

But I soon found there were as well a lot of insects, I have a couple of bites from sandflies on my lacks and although I took care not to pitch my tent on spot with ants, the ants seemed to be attracted to my backpack and I still had to remove lots of them from my stuff in the morning.

♪ And the sky ♪ had been cute cloudy and got more cloudy towards the evening, it even rained for about an hour from 5pm onwards, and later again at night.

♪ The heat was hot ♪, even at night even with the rain I was still sweating in my tent, when it was dry I directly opened the zippers of my tent to let cool breeze in.

♪ But the air was full of sound ♪, till late in the evening and early in the morning you could hear the goats and other animals from a nearby farm.

There were two main parts of the desert, a red part and a grey part, both very nice, but if you compare it to the Atacama very small as well.

At 22:30 a night bus to Salento. It should take about 6hours, but in the end around 12am we were in Armenia, there had been a landslide, after a while one side of the road had been cleared but there was still a long traffic jam.

San Augustin to Neiva

2018/06/04

First a hike to the point where the river is only 2.2m wide while before it is about 10m. Even where it is 10m the river is very strong, its surprising that it actually is possible to get all the water through this small gap.

An arrepa with cheese and a coffee up in the valley, the last couple days I have been making arrepa;s myself and although I don’t know the best water maize flower ratio jet I think mine actually taste better now, but that could be because I fry them and these were prepared on a stone in the fire, everything fried tastes better.

I went to some graves where the sculptures still have their original colors and after that returned to the hostel. In total about 25km.

In the hostel the mother of the owner prepared fried platano, fried yukka and another fried root and gave me some coffee, around 3 I managed to leave and took first a collective and next a bus to Neiva.

I Neiva it took a while to find a hotel for a good price, in the end I settled for a price a little higher then I would have liked, still not more then 10euro and actually a very nice room and including breakfast. I got as well a discount of about 15Euro so I shouldn’t complain.

San Augustin – Parque archelogica y cascada El Cenco

 

2018/06/03

First to the archeologic park, a lot more sculptures. They say they found a bout 500 sculptures in total, for the park they recovered sculptures from all over the world, from a square in Bogota to a basement in Denmark.

I wonder how many sculptures are still somewhere in the ground, 500 in the 2000years the culture that made them was here is not that much.

After the park I returned a bit quicker, I don’t like waiting for people and definitely not when it rains. After arriving back in town, I found out there was a waterfall near the park. The owner of the hostel gave me a ride and from there I started hiking. I had to ask many many times but, in the end, found the waterfall and went for a brief swim.

The way back was more straight forward.

In the evening there was a procession and after wards a show with horse and music. While eating fried platano with cheese and covered with a layer of doe I watched the show.

I tried a couple more fried dishes, one that was like sausage, but with rice, one that was like dumpling, one with potato and a boiled egg inside and one with sweet potato, all delicious.

Pasto to Popayan to San Augustin

Pasto to Popayan

2018/05/31

Early at 5:40 I took the bus, to arrive in Popayan around 13:00. I walked around a bit and went with a guy from Spain to the free city tour at 16:00. He told us about the bridge of shame, called bridge of shame because before the bridge was constructed people were always heaving and panting after they had walked up on the river bank. Around the city used to life Indians, the city is named after one of the tribe leaders, Payan. On the far end is a view point looking over the city, this is an old pyramid. The pyramid was already abandoned when the Spanish arrived. Continue reading “Pasto to Popayan to San Augustin”

Colombia! First city; Pasto

2018/05/30

At 9:15am Albert and me met at the terminal and from there we went to where he lived together with 11 other venezolanos. He showed me the city together with 3 other venezolanos.  We mad a lot of stops, for copies of his papers, a place where they might need people and just places where other venezolanos where working. He was looking for a job and at the end it seemed he had found one in construction, he is a civil engineer.

We talked while walking about why they were here, that they wanted to return but that now this was not possible. One of the girls had a son back in Venezuela, but here family needs the money, so she had to leave him, of course she misses him a lot and wants to go back.

The people in Colombia are not always that friendly they told me. And indeed, in Peru and Ecuador I already had heard stories from locals saying that all Venezuelans are thief’s, I guess in Colombia some people say the same. It really sucks, they can’t really stay in Venezuela and in other countries they are not treated well either, it’s a bit like in Europa.

From this group they seemed all to have a higher education, Albert now got a job in his field, but the two girls worked in a disco for now, it’s a shame but they currently don’t have many options.

Later we returned to their house and they cooked lunch, very tasty fried chicken (first covered with a mix of silantro and cebollita, next with corn flower and then fried), rice and fried banana (platoon). They girls escorted me to my hostel and went off to work.

I went to the terminal to buy a ticket to Popayan, but the first bus would be at 17:30 and would arrive there at 23:30, I didn’t want to arrive that late and decided to stay one more night and leave very early in the morning.

Otavalo to national park El Angel to Colombia Pasto

2018/05/29|

First the bus to Ibarra and from there another bus to El Angel. In El Angel (12:30) I went walking together with a German in direction to the national park, about 18km from the town, hoping we would catch a ride. We got a ride from every car that passed, which still meant we mostly walked.

At the start we got a ride from two busses with school kids that were being brought home. The kids were very interested in us. They were climbing over the chairs, hanging from the bars on the ceiling. The bus drive didn’t care and let them play. At the last stop we got out and started hiking, we had about 13/14km to go.

Soon I continued alone to have at least a chance to make it there by foot and back. I didn’t make it to the lakes, but I saw at least the field with Frailejones, an unearthly plant with large hairy leaves on a thick stem.

On the way back, I managed to get a ride and actually was back in town just before the last bus to Tucan at 16:45 (till 6pm there would be shared taxi to the next town and from there busses to Tucan).

When I arrived, I asked what the best time was to cross the border, it turned out that currently the boarder was quiet, so I went directly. I had heard stories of people waiting for up to 14hours. The long waits have to do with the stream of people fleeing Venezuela because of the political situation there. I was however lucky and there was no one waiting before me on either side of the border.

At the Ecuadorian side I met a Venezuelan that had done a visa run and we shared a taxi to the bus terminal. From there we took a bus to Pasto where he was currently living with his sister and some other friends. He helped me finding a hotel and we would me tomorrow.

Otavalo – swim in a waterfall, a tree and a lake

2018/05/28

We went for a short hike to a waterfall, were we went for a swim trying to get as close to the waterfall as possible, the stream was strong and only by holding on to the rocks it was possible to get closer. Getting really completely under the waterfall was impossible because of the strength of the wind and the force of the water.

Next to a tree, and to a large lake. Afterwards lunch at the market and back to the hostel.

Otavalo – day hike Imbabura

2018/05/27

With the same group as yesterday, we went after breakfast (breakfast of banana pancakes and cake) we left by taxi to the start point for Imbabura. The path went up through the grass landscape, the higher the type of plants changed and the landscape with it. There were a lot of outer worldly plants, some with thick hairy leaves, some with curly leaves, a cactus with a fury kind of flower and many others.

When we got higher it became rockier and the path became a bit more difficult, as well because of the clouds which made it more difficult to follow the path.

We followed the edge of the crater going up and down, sometimes climbing and descending a little. Just like with most volcanos there are a lot of weird shaped rocks.

Me and Florian continued to the peak, we arrived there at 3pm hoping that the others already were on their way back. We started on the way back and after an hour we found the others still going up.

It had been raining, snowing, the wind was strong. They thought the way up was difficult, they had hoped they could go down on the other side and when we told them this was not an option they were miserable. I had borrowed my hat and my gloves to them, and although I was cold too, seeing them like this I didn’t dare to ask them back, they looked so miserable.

On the way down they started feeling batter after a while.

We found a very, very skinny dog. At first it looked like he couldn’t really see, he could barely walk, and he was stiffening like crazy. We gave him some bread and cookies and carried him most of the way down. After a while he seemed to get stronger and he walked a bit by himself, but sometimes he would fall, and we would carry him again farther down.

When we were back at the grassy area we were above the clouds and the rain had stopped, the view was great. When we got back at the road it started to get dark and we were all happy when we saw a couple people with a car. For in total 10 dollars they would bring us to the bus terminal and they said they as well could take care of the dog. We all got very attached to the dog, I hope he will be alright.

 

Photo’s are made by Lara and the Chinese girls

Otavalo – Animal market, Lagunas Mojandes and birthday

2018/05/26

At 6am me and to other tourists went together to the animal market. At the market they sell all kind of animals, from cows to quinoa pigs and from pigs to chickens.

After breakfast me and 5 others left together to lagunas Mojandes. Here we started walking up to the highest mountain there, I went a little faster and took a different route but met them later again. On the way down again, I went a bit different and faster and continued walking to another lake. Later when I came back to the start point I missed the rest of the group. It turned out they had been sitting next to the road and I must have walked straight past them. I hitchhiked back to the town and went to have a look at the Saturday market.

The market was huge, a lot of the streets in the center were closed for traffic and again they were selling all kinds of things. After a while I continued to the regular food market for lunch and returned to the hostel.

In the evening we cooked together, the Chinese made Chinese food as the main, the French made French craps for desert and I made soup and guacamole as starter. The Chinese girls had bought some cake as well to celebrate my birthday.

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