Along the drive to Valle de Cocora
You know you're close when you can see the tall, solitary wax palms.
Wax palms can reach almost 200 feet in height!
Beautiful blue skies...for now.
Ashley and Marcela are excited for their hike!
This is how you get to Valle de Cocora. Open air seating optional.
This is how deep and clear the stream was when Ashley and Marcela crossed it the first time.
You'll notice a BIG difference when you see them cross it again!
It takes strength and wellingtons to cross the stream with this kind of style.
Although the wellingtons were uncomfortable at times,
Marcela and Ashley were glad they wore them. You'll see why soon!
The first leg of the hike is through the gorgeous Valle De Cocora.
Palma de Cera, or Wax Palm, is Colombia's national symbol, and this region is
famous for these slender giants. They are the tallest of the palm species.
After an hour of walking through the valley we entered the forest. We took a short detour to this waterfall shortly after entering.
This rickety bridge is straight out of an Indiana Jones movie, minus the angry tribesmen with spears.
Juan Valdez making the rounds with his trusty mule. Who wants coffee?
At the end of the trail, a cute little farm with hummingbirds and a nice man named Hector await you.
Colombia is so fertile, even the roof has plantlife!
Aqua de Panela and quesito, a traditional Colombian snack,
help restore your energy for the hike back down the mountain.
Up to 6 species of hummingbirds can be see flitting around this watering hole.
No damaged ankle here. Turns out an ace bandage can double as a sock in a pinch!
This hike required several creek crossings. Those without wellingtons can use the nearby bamboo bridges.
The landscape looks much different in the rain!
The fog made a great backdrop for the wax palms.
Blue skies in the distance.
Juan Valdez photo bombing the picture.
The trail had turned into a mini river.
Ashley is one tough lady.
Finally, this is what the first stream had become: deep and dirty.
The Plantation House, an organic coffee farm near Salento where you can pick coffee beans on a volunteer basis.
One of three collies that call the farm home (and terrorize the chickens!)
It's easy to smile in the morning before the sun becomes unbearable!
Ashley and Marcela had a new found respect for coffee and coffee bean
pickers after seeing how long it takes to fill a bucket half way!
These beans will be used to grow new coffee plants.
Newborn coffee seedlings in the coffee nursery.
This is a is the Colombian variety of coffee plants.
They are significantly shorter than the Arabica coffee plants.
Coffee cherries in every phase of ripeness on one branch.
The many colors of the coffee berries.
It takes hours of picking to fill a bag this size.
Only a fraction of it came from Ashley and Marcela.
After the cherries are picked they are put in this machine that separates the bean from the skin.
Freshly de-skinned coffee beans.
Discarded coffee cherry skins.
The beans are sorted and put out to dry on the roof. The dark ones are discarded.
The last step of the process: enjoying a delicious cup of organic coffee!
One of Colombia's pastimes: Tejo!
The constantly changing menu
Tinto aka straight black coffee
Course one: "Multiproteine and delicious 3 cereals whole meal, on a warm mango and fresh morning milk with oat cheaps and fresh mango slices."
Course three: "Rupublika's homemade yogurt coctail with bio active components as per an ancient recepee 3500 AC"
Course four, part one: "Wild trout sashimi. By public demand Joseph [chef and owner of Rupublika de Artistes Hostel] is giving again today wild cocora's river Quindio fresh trout sashimi, with his way of understanding this classic of the Japanese famous apeticer."
Course four, part two: "Sashimi will come along with a surprising company of assorted mango with cheese and veggies sushi and sashimi."
Course four: "The eggs (some natural and non saturated protein fat for a good and balanced diet) Today 'tortilla de patata y yuka' con queso on a rye raisin bread with olive oil."
Course seven and eight: "Surf & turf. A nest of deboned chicken with the finest Colombian wild river trout ravioli. A bundle of rye stuffed with chicken and trout paste, seasoned in cumin, coriander and garlic."
Course nine: "Vegetarian rice pilaf with locally grown vegetables from our own organic farm."
Course eleven: "Dulce del dia: 'Aborradjado.' Joseph's take of the baby banana ('bocadillo') stuffed with whipped cottage goat's cheese sweetened with panel and carefully wrapped in a crispy rye cracker."
The breakfast club poses with their very talented and gracious chef, Joseph.
Delicious obleas, fresh cream and strawberries. Dessert doesn't get any better than this!
Salento's central plaza.