A Travellerspoint blog

Salento

Get excited..it's the coffee region

all seasons in one day 25 °C

Ok so im 31 years old, and until a week ago i had never had a coffee. Welcome to my debut experience in the coffee region of Colombia, Salento. Before i get to the good stuff about this area (the part that doesnt involve coffee) lets get the coffee tour stuff out of the way.

We went down to a little coffee plantation run by good old Don Elias, a lovely old fella who has been working here for about 130 years by the look of it.

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From what i could gather from the Spanish tour this is how they make coffee:

Pick the beans, apparently you dont eat them at this point

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Dry them out

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Get this beautiful specimen of a man to shell them

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Cook them up

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Then bingo...you can effectively drink dirt in water

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Old mate was generous enough to spoil us with a free sample of his finest. I lost my virginity somewhere in the highlands of Colombia - what a story.

Pre-drink nerves:

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My Israeli "friend" next to me promised to put me on youtube as the wierdo who had never had a coffee, so i think my video is going viral around the cyberspace of Tel Aviv right now.

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Somewhat negative response?

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Insertion of 4 sugars

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Completion

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Now Fi has us carrying this crap around for the rest of the trip.

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But there were some happy customers. Thanks old mate.

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Ok got that off my chest...so to the rest of the story of Salento. What a wonderful place. Rolling hills as far as the eye can see, with wax palms freakishly standing about 20-30 metres tall, and clouds rolling in over the mountains. Spectacular scenery indeed. A nice little town square tops off one of the Colombian highlights for us on this trip.

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We caught some jeeps out to Valle de Cocora and went on a massive 14km hike. It isnt supposed to be that long, but we got extremely lost in the middle of the Parque and got caught in a daily cloud forest mountain downpour. Had a sweet little dog showing us the way, at one point i thought he might have been dinner if we were stuck out there for the night. But we made it back in one piece and can now reflect on how amazing the place was.

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In conclusion im a touch concerned that this is my new "go-to" pose when Fi points the camera...promise to fix that before the next installment

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Posted by chuddfi 14:38 Archived in Colombia Comments (0)

Medellin

The former murder capital of the world...

sunny 30 °C

Medellin is the former city of drug legend Pablo Escobar. He was the man around town in the 80s and 90s till he was shot in the head. Here is a wikipedia photo not taken by us of police posing with the body, they were pretty happy with themselves that day.

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We spent 5 nights at a great hostel with some fun (loose) people and checked out the city which is basically home to a couple of million people in a massive valley making it quite a picturesque joint.

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Sunday night at the Black Sheep Hostel....dream

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Thought about it...

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On the last day we caught the longest cable car in the world (may not be fact) all the way up and over the mountains around Medellin. It leads to a massive national park which we checked out. Some cracking views on the multi-million dollar cable car which ironically travels over Medellin's slums.

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We did a day trip out to a little town Guatape which basically now is a lakes district after a massive flood that never went away. Quite a nice little town highlighted by a whopping great rock standing in the middle of nowhere. Anyway 740 steps later and we were at the top.

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The town itself is sponsored by Dulux Weathershield...quite a colourful place indeed.

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Anyway that was it for Medellin...next stop the coffee capital of the world - get excited if you are into that rubbish.

Posted by chuddfi 18:34 Archived in Colombia Comments (0)

Taganga

and the Tayrona National Park

sunny 39 °C

Taganga is a little fishing village that is the gateway town to some major treks and National Parks in North East Colombia. We stayed here for a night before heading the following day to the Tayrona National Park.

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See the itinerary of this trip, and details about each destination.

Our next adventure saw us take our daypacks and catch a bus to the entrance of the Tayrona National Park, where we basically had to walk to one of the beaches and find a hammock for the night. We walked to the furthest beach Cabo San de Juan. All the beaches along here reminded us of Wilsons Prom, beautiful untouched beaches that required such effort to get to, that there wasnt too much tourist damage. it was a great place for the night.

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On the downside the hammocks were so crammed in next to each other that you were touching the stranger beside you.

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Bumped into Slev on the way out too...was good to catch up with him.

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Anyway its time to say goodbye to the beaches for a whie. And we have to get outta this heat. Next move was heading 16 hours south to the former murder capital of the world - Medellin. Will say Gday to Pablo for you all.

Posted by chuddfi 09:05 Archived in Colombia Comments (0)

Cartagena

Colombia Yo

sunny 39 °C

Our South American adventure began in Cartagena Colombia. A wonderful city that is surrouded by waterways and the Caribbean Sea. The old town is surrounded by massive stone walls that used to keep pirates out. And contrasting that is the new part of town with its long beach that looks kinda like Miami or Surfers Paradise. Anyway there was so much to see and do here that we had our longest stay of the trip so far, a solid 5 nights to check the place out.

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Baseball lessons, Fi learnt a bit
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Spanish lessons
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This little hotel was our little palace.
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Fi found mango heaven.

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Not really sure what the inspiration behind this statue was?

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For one of the days we headed out to the most bizarre tourist attraction ever. A 20 odd metre high volcano that instead of spewing out hot lava, it bubbles mud. The tour brochure will tell you that the mud is therapy for sore muscles and good for your skin, but we just found it fun. The opening at the top is actually 2000m deep but the mud keeps you so bouyant that you cant actually get your whole body under the mud very easily. Weird feeling indeed.

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Anyway after an amazing time in Caragena we moved on...off further up the coast to Taganga.

Posted by chuddfi 08:49 Archived in Colombia Comments (0)

Panama

overcast 35 °C

Well after two months of crazy travel we reached our first goal. A booked flight in Panama City. Got there with a couple of days to spare to check the place out. Panama City is a funny place, the new part with massive shopping malls and weird shaped modern buildings looks kinda like KL, but then the old part is a hustling city with people and cars screaming past everywhere.

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So it was good to be back in civilisation anyway. Went to the shops for a bit, even caught a Hollywood film in English and subtitled in Spanish. Unfortunately the choices were limited so off we went to the latest romance drama starring Zac Efron. Wasnt bad...actually it was just good to hear English for 2 straight hours after two months.

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And Panama City is of course home to the mighty Panama Canal. A man-made engineering wonderstroke that allows ships to cut through the Panama lakes instead of going all the way under South America.
Thats fantastic isnt it? Well we will tell you what isnt fantastic and that is the canal as a tourist attraction. What a joke. Worst tourist attraction since Stonehenge in England, or the Penguins of Phillip Island. At both of those you stand around freezing your arse off and see nothing. At the Panama Canal you sweat your arse off and you see even less.

We stood for over an hour, as a massive ship moved approximately 100 metres through the specially designed locked gates that release water blah blah blah. Was very interesting to see..but bored us senseless. Below is some photos of the excitement, plus a photo of heaps of knob tourists taking a photo of a gate opening.

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And with that, the end of our Central America adventure. What a blast...so off to South America we go.

Posted by chuddfi 08:36 Archived in Panama Comments (0)

Paradise (again)

Playa Hermosa & Jaco

sunny 34 °C

Our last stop in Costa Rica was by far the most spectacular. Playa Hermosa is a beautiful black sand beach with some crazy surf that Fi wouldnt let me go in. Anyway in good news we could surf everyday at nearby Jaco which was nice too.

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On the Saturday night there was a massive surf contest with around 100 surfers in the water at once, 4 pro surfers amongst the contestants, and they put on an awesome show. Could really see myself working towards this standard if i continue my current improvement curve.

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This little part of paradise made for some great photos around sunset time each night, where Fi and I would grab a camera and phone each and go for it.

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With a touch of sadness we bid farewell to Costa Rica and headed for Panama City in time for our flight to South America.

Posted by chuddfi 07:55 Archived in Costa Rica Comments (0)

Montezuma

rain 30 °C

This little place didnt really do much for us, but we were catching a boat from there in the morning so made the most of the afternoon and tried to find a waterfall that later we found out was inaccessable due to the crazy rapids we were trying to walk next to. If you want to see it, google it.

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Pommy Chris and I wont ever suggest the girls go look for accomodation and we will carry their bags...geez chicks have heaps of crap.

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After a few to many smart arse comments i was in the dog house that night...bit small for me.

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The next morning we caught a speed boat across the ocean to the mainland, on the way i spotted some dolphins and everyone was happy...just call me Steve Irwin.

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Fi worked out the hard way that dolphins are quite hard to photograph. Apparently there are dolphins in this photo.

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After a lovely morning of travel we had made it to Jaco, and we stayed out of town down at the crazy surf beach of Playa Hermosa.

Posted by chuddfi 12:29 Archived in Costa Rica Comments (0)

Playa Santa Teresa

sunny 33 °C

Now this beautiful part of the blog should get you nice and jealous. Think tiny little beach village, hiring surfboards, white sand beaches....etc
But it wasnt all smooth sailing. After a day of travel including a few buses and a boat, we had one leg to go...an 11km public bus into Playa Santa Theresa...about 3km in and the local construction workers began digging up the dirt road in front of us. Three hours later and they had dug the whole road up, put in massive pipes, and then returned the dirt or should i say mud. It started gettin funny when every third car or bus got stuck in the mud...when it was our turn, we got stuck.

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Anyway after 12 hours we made it to our destination which was 200km away at most. And here we were in beautiful Santa Theresa.

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On our last day we hired the world's worst bikes, all 4 of them breaking at some point and headed off and found some secluded beaches. An amazing adventure indeed. Excuse the photography as its hard to ride a piece of sh*t bike and take photos.

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Next stop the hippy town of Montezuma.

Posted by chuddfi 12:16 Archived in Costa Rica Comments (0)

Monteverde

A change of scene

overcast 25 °C

After a couple of months of stinking hot days we thought we would give ourselves a break and we headed up to the mountains to the beautiful Monteverde. This place is known as a cloud forest as it sits high in the clouds.

We had an action packed day up here. In the morning we wandered around the National Park looking for sloths and tucans. Just like that time Favre and I went to the Daintree looking for cassawarys (spelling?) we came up short. So i am throwing it out there officially that neither sloths or tucans exist.

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In the afternoon we got EXTREME (to be said really loud). Went ziplining through the canopy and across valleys. A massive tarzan swing was in there somewhere as well...basically we had to jump off a platform and freefall until the rope kicked in...touch scary. The highlight being the last line that was 1km in length, top speed of 80km/h and they turned our harness around so it was on our back, and we did the 1km in the superman position from 200m above the valley...amazing...and EXTREME.

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Anyway after our EXTREME day it was back to the beach...next stop Playa Santa Teresa.

Posted by chuddfi 12:12 Archived in Costa Rica Comments (0)

Surfing Costa Rica

(to be sung to the Beach Boys tune)

sunny 35 °C

Yeah the first time i sung that outloud i realised that it was sh*t and didnt work that well. But here we are in sunny Costa Rica. After a few big travel days we finally made it to our dream destination.

Playa Tamarindo is a rather built up (touristy) destination, but it was quite a good place for Fi to learn to surf and for me to consolidate my years (days) of surfing experience as the 8ft waves arent too bad (3ft).

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Next impulse decision saw us try get out of the heat and up to the mountains for a change of scene...to Monteverde

Posted by chuddfi 12:10 Archived in Costa Rica Comments (0)

Granada

Our brief visit to Nicaragua

sunny 34 °C

We really didnt do Nicaragua much justice, probably would have liked some more time to see a beach or two, but we had one thing in mind and that was to get to Costa Rica.

While we were here we checked out Granada for a couple of nights. Another nice little colonial town, set on a lake with a couple of volcanoes creating islands in the middle.

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Think this was an ad for a brothel...named after my lovely sister Alison...

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We did a day trip out to a Laguna de Apoyo which is a massive crater that is now home to a fresh water lake. Our day involved tubing, kayaking and lying on a wooden man-made island. The car to get there was a shocker indeed...broke down with 150m to go...so we ditched the driver and walked!

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next stop (with a bit of excitement) is Costa Rica!

Posted by chuddfi 12:08 Archived in Nicaragua Comments (0)

Antigua

Show us your volcanoes

sunny 32 °C

Another stinking hot day in Guatemala in another crap minivan without A/C made for another painful journey down to the old capital Antigua. This place was a lovely little colonial town (again) with its cobble streets and all the same things we had seen time and time again, however the difference here was the towering volcano to the west of the city, was hoping for a bit of a lava spit, but not for the big fella to go all Pompeii on our arse. No such luck...it's an inactive volcano. Joining us in Antigua were our roomate Aussie Jess and a couple of Poms Philthy Phil and Kirst.

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Next celebrity sighting...this time old Jesus Christ.

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Anyway we thought we would climb another volcano and see what it would bring us. Heaps of cloud basically. Once we got to the top however it was quite a surreal place. Kinda felt like we were on the moon, black soil, craters everywhere and heaps of fog meant we couldnt see much.

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Ducked in a natural sauna and cooked some marshmellows on the hot rocks.

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All in all it was a fun hike up the hill...but i was disappointed not to have seen the following:

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Once we returned to the hostel Fi and I made a radical decision to ditch all plans with our English pals and get straight down to Nicaragua (an hour after making the decision).

Posted by chuddfi 12:04 Archived in Guatemala Comments (0)

Let's get wild

Lanquin - Guatemala

sunny 31 °C

After another horrid bus ride with a little wanker minivan driver who said we had to pay more for A/C, we made it to the beautiful mountain village of Lanquin. Highlight being waiting half an hour for a ferry across a river with no bridge. And turning to the left and copping this view from the neighbouring cattle truck.

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The drive here was quite spectacular along the edge of the mountains and heading down into valleys. A river runs through the town and our hostel is right on the banks.

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Had the latest celebrity sighting...this time Robbie Williams

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We did a wonderful day trip out to Semuc Champey which was 11km away, but due to the road being so poor it took an hour and a bit to get there. Our big crew was standing for the whole trip on the back of a cattle truck. Was a hell of a ride, but was worth it by the time we saw the surrounds.
So this day trip was highlighted by a cave tour that we had heard heaps about. Pitch black and swimming through caves with candlelight was some crazy stuff. A great experience, and another example of a tourist attraction that would not exist in Australia (due to safety). The cave trip was followed by a highly dangerous rope swing over rocks (they tell you when to jump off so its safe), tubing down the rapids of the river for a bit, and also jumping off the bridge over the river (all jumpers touching the bottom somewhat – so we both pussied out). The rest of the day we spent either in the rock pools that make the place famous (on varying levels), or hiking and sweating up to the lookout to look at the pools. Was a ripping day indeed and made the hellish trip to Lanquin worth it.

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Pete the crazy bastard jumping off the top of a bridge!

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Next stop…Antigua and some volcano action

Posted by chuddfi 17:32 Archived in Guatemala Comments (2)

"Typical stinking bloody hot day here in Flores"

Richie Benaud quote censored for this PG blog

sunny 40 °C

After one of the worst bus rides ever on a piece of crap bus, on a shocking road, with no air conditioner we arrived in Flores. This little island is surrounded by a massive lake and is possibly the hottest place on Earth. It hit 40 degrees and it was time to dive in.

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Anyway the stopover in Flores, besides seeing the lovely island, was to go to the Tikal National Park…and you guessed it…more ruins.
In good news though, these ones were probably the best we have seen. Barely any tourists there, a funny guide with great English, and massive ruins poking out of the jungle which we were able to climb made for a good morning. The tour sends you off at 4:30am so you can do it all before it becomes so friggin hot. We were back by 1:30pm as the temperature hit 39 degrees and I was happy to dive straight into the lake.

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Due to the temperature being so unbearable we decided we had seen all Flores had to offer and we headed off the next morning for Lanquin.

Posted by chuddfi 17:32 Archived in Guatemala Comments (0)

Un-Belize-able

you better Belize it

sunny 35 °C

Belized to meet you! (this entry will make you jealous)

“Nah mate sorry we are not paying, now stamp our passports.”

I never thought I would find myself saying those words to an armed Mexican border policeman in the pitch black at 4am, but there I was. We had read about this scam where they try and make you pay you an exit fee and lucky for us this little tiny English girl was first and argued the case to the scam artist (Customs man) and won. So we weren’t paying…and didn’t.

After an overnight bus and a 45 minute boat ride we finally hit paradise – Caye Caulker, Belize.

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This little island paradise is situated in the Caribbean about 1 mile from the Barrier Reef (2nd biggest in world behind QLD). After a hurricane hit about 10 years ago, this island was split in half by a forty metre wide channel, known as “The Split” which was the place to be. Swimming, snorkelling and drinking. This also meant that for the first time on the trip Fi and I ended up with some friends! The island had crystal clear water near the split, and the weather was perfect every day.

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Spotted former Aussie cricket legend Andrew Symonds too.

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Found the planet where a few of my mates are from – Planet STD.

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Fi scored a sweet hat off one of the many stoned fellas.

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On our last day we headed off on the highlight of the trip so far, the Ragamuffin snorkelling/sailing trip. We had booked out more than half the trip with the little crew we had assembled so far on the island. This boat trip took us out to the Barrier Reef where we had a number of snorkelling stops and saw some crazy stuff. We saw a massive sea cow and swam next to it as it rises to the surface, swam with heaps of sharks and sting rays (bit nervy jumping in on top of them at first)….and my highlight by a mile was swimming next to a few green turtles. Literally following their path about a metre away next to them was an amazing experience. Hope the underwater photos we took look alright.

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On the way back the crew shut off the engine and put the sail up, and cracked open the rum. Was a long and fun trip back with the reggae tunes pumping.

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So with a touch of a hangover (read massive) we were off again, next stop Flores Guatemala. The team had picked up a few travel buddies too…Jess Sparkles and 6 of the finest Saffers - Glenn, Jess, Steph, Pete, Camilla & Laura welcome to the team.

Posted by chuddfi 17:31 Archived in Belize Comments (0)

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