Colombia 2014 Post 5 Feb 9 – 12 , 2014
Salento, Filandia, Popayan
(Deni) Today (Sunday) was fun. We did a day trip to the small town of Filandia. It’s another mountain coffee town like Salento, but isn’t visited by as many tourists. The town was busy with families eating ice cream and letting their children ride ponies around the square, political parties having small rallies, and some sort of thing that involved a lot of ladies serving roast pig (a whole roast pig) and rice to folks while speeches went on and a band of disabled folks played instruments.
I was thrilled to finally find actual handicrafts. I bought a very interesting basket from the artist and some lovely ceramic bead necklaces and earrings. So, that was good.
We got back to Salento just before the afternoon rain started. I’ll write a bit and then it’s time to eat again. It’s a hard life.
Some more observations;
Walking hazards – You really have to watch where you’re going. In the bigger cities like Bogota and Medellin, people steal the covers from the rectangular openings for utility access (gas, water, etc.) that are on the sidewalks. If you aren’t careful, it’s easy to step in a hole and wrench an ankle. Another hazard that is prevelant in both large cities and small towns is dog poop! The stray and domestic dogs do their business on the streets and sidewalks and no one cleans it up. Very hazardous.
DVDs clean and dirty. Pirated DVDS are everywhere. Coop has already contributed to the problem by buying some in Bogota and in Filandia. He’s so happy to find ranchera, vallenato, and bolero music. In Medellin we were shocked to see porn DVDs for sale on the street. Hard core stuff, really gross right out on tables on the street. And right next to the porn you could find a Disney movie for kids. Yuck!
Bikes. Gosh this country is crazy for biking. Every day we see hoards of folks grinding their way up these mountains on high quality mountain bikes all wearing the latest in biking attire. And today being a Sunday there were even more of them. And we see lots of folks on motorbikes. The thing that surprises us about the motorbike people is that they all wear helmets! No one in Africa and Bangladesh wears a helmet. And in SE Asia the driver might have a helmet, but the passenger would hardly ever wear one. But folks here all make sure they have helmets. Cool.
People with disabilities are in evidence wherever we go. And they aren’t sitting on the sidewalk begging. Many are using nice looking wheelchairs or good quality crutches and are participating in whatever is going on. Nice to see.
(Bob) This was the day of the big hike. We packed into a Willys Jeep with a few of our closest friends for the half hour drive down into the Quindio River valley and then up the valley to the last little village at the end of the road. The Snowy Mountains (Los Nevados) were towering in the distance. The hike first went through a ranching area with cows grazing in the valley and mountainside pastures. This is a cattle raising country as well as plenty of dairy production. We saw a couple of mules carrying milk cans down the road to meet the milk truck. The ranchers go everywhere on horses since they are beyond drivable roads. The men wear cowboy style hats and carry their serape folded on their shoulder, always prepared for the afternoon shower and the cool of the evening. The school kids from the high altitude fincas (ranches) were riding home on their horses after traveling to the end of the road on the school bus. It’s like ranch country in Eastern Oregon. Only it’s in the Andes Moutains. There are many contrasts between the traditional ways and the modern.
Upon leaving the broad valley we climbed into the mountains. The first goal was a small restaurant where they feed many magnificent humming birds. The really long-tailed ones are amazing. Deni likes this kind of trail with hot chocolate at the top. After being refreshed we climbed the switchbacks through cloud forest to the top of the ridge for magnificent views of the mountains. There are lovely tree ferns, birds and butterflies. Coming back down the ridge we went through an area of wax palms. They are the tallest palm trees in the world at 50 meters (about 180 feet). In the pasture fields back down on the valley floor, the wax palms remain in a towering Dr. Seuss forest. The scenery was fantastic. And we slept well that night before our next traveling day.
Tuesday we travelled to Popayan in southern Colombia. We’ll have more to say about this colonial style city after we’ve been here for awhile.
(Deni) I think more needs to be said about the trail up and down the mountain. It was steep! We crossed and recrossed the river numerous times on very rickety suspension bridges. Much of the trail was quite rocky. Although the whole trip was only a little over seven miles, it felt like it was much further because of the elevation gain and the 9,000 ft altitude. But it was well worth it. Every time I think Colombia has shown me the most beautiful thing ever, she shows me something more. This is truly a spectacular country.
Oh, another thing – the last time I was hiking in the Andes (in Venezuela) I missed a lot of the experience because I was so sick with dengue fever. It was great this time to be able to take in the palms, tree ferns, butterflies, etc. It was a much more enjoyable experience, believe me!
Bob and Deni