No matter the rain, it was time to leave Medellin. I took a bus - 6hrs, COP 37k- to Salento in Zona Cafetera, which is famous for coffee plantations and beautiful mountain landscape, and strategically 40 min away from Armenia where my plane will leave from on May 1st.
Two kind locals gave me and another girl a ride to Hostel La Serrana. Dorm bed and breakfast: COP 20k. The hostel is located in a Finca 20 min walk from town, great views, nice furnishing, delicious food and interesting people from all over the world. I could also have my laundry done for COP 5k. They offer fresh milk from their cows and homemade brownies and peanut butter, gnammy! Recommended.
The first day I went with two roommates to the Cocora Valley for a gorgeous 5 hrs hike up and down the mountains and across rivers. A lot of mud but still great. We saw the famous Palmas de la Cera, 50m tall palm trees with cows and pine trees next to them... Very bizarre! The town of Salento is cute, with colorful colonial houses. The next day I led a yoga class for other guests and then I went to visit Finca Don Elias, an organic coffee farm 1hr walk from the hostel. Recommended: very informative and delicious coffee.
The last day of this adventure eventually arrived: bus to Armenia COP 34k, and then another to the airport COP 19k. I have never been searched and checked so many times ever in my life. They even completely emptied my backpack!
I want to thank all the people that inspired me, helped me, and challenged me during this trip. In particular, thank you to Robbert, the best travel companion ever.
PS I absolutely loved the feeling of entering the US with my new Green Card!! : D
How nice to fly from Capurgana back to Medellin: only 1.5hrs and COP207k! Especially compared with the previous exhausting 15hrs trip to go there, which was COP95k. The plane was small and I was sitting right behind the pilots, i almost learned how to fly. One of them also gave me a ride to the Hostel Casa Blanca in El Poblado, where my Green Card was waiting for me in a lovely FedEx pack!
Lunch at Basilu' by the hostel was good and cheap, they also were very helpful in helping me find yoga classes.
In the pm I joined an Atman Yoga class at Parque Presidencia in El Poblado, the teacher Gina was very nice and inspiring but I'm not a big fun of her Sivananda Yoga.
The day after I went for a complementary yoga class in a fancy yoga studio called 108Yoga. The teacher Angelika was really good leading her Vinyasa Flow Class, relaxing and vigorous. Pm dedicated to Internet and rain to seal the day.
_I absolutely loved this remote part of Colombia: there are no cars but horses, the cliffs on the ocean are full of trees with basically no constructions, a lot of nice excursions in the jungle and along the coast, nice snorkeling, good prices and fruit trees everywhere where you can pick up your free delicious healthy snacks!
The boat ride from Turbo to Capurgana, COP$55k, was pretty rough though: 3.5hrs in a lancha going against the waves... bang bang on your seat no stop. In Capurgana we stayed at Hostel Marlin, on the ocean, private room with bath COP30k. Hostel Gecko run by Italians is nice too but more expensive. We hiked to La Coqueria, with natural pools in front of the ocean, 30 min from town, and to Aguacate, a nice bay with good snorkeling, 1hr gorgeous walk along the jungle by the coast. Hector from Cabanas Darius was our guide, recommended.
From Capurgana you can reach Sapzurro either crossing the mountain for a good 1hr hike in the jungle, or taking a lancha for 10min, COP7k. I like this town even more: it's smaller, and on a gorgeous enclosed bay with a coral reef. It's more expensive. We stayed at Mystic Roots, COP25k per person, low season price for a nice room w bath in front of the ocean. Andy, the owner, is an interesting English man that told us a lot about the area and took us for a 30 min hike to La Miel in Panama to visit Marco's property, a dreamy piece of sandy beach with jungle behind, where there are monkeys, toucans, dolphins, and huge turtles leaving their eggs at night. Unbelievable. Andy practices Acro-Yoga and he made me fly for a little bit on top of his legs. Marco is developing this piece of land into an eco-community and hostel from where his boat trips to San Blas will start. Only problems with this paradise: mosquitos and unreliable electricity/wifi.
Robbert flew back home and I'll be on my own for the last week. Goodbye my friend and see you soon for more adventures!
We left Guatape' with the goal of escaping from the rain reaching the Carabbean coast asap, but guess what? After 30min of bus the sky clears and it's sunny again! Damn! I could have walked up the Penol, a 200m monolite, and seen the amazing view over all the islands around Guatape'! Too bad ...but we were still in time to jump off the bus and catch another one direction Rio Claro, a natural reserve around a clear river. After 2.5hrs we were at its entrance and in 15min walk we had a great room in the El Refugio lodge. COP$30k each. The room is basically a corner terrace over the river and the jungle, no windows, no screens, just open to Nature. We went for hike along the river: gorgeous rocks, stalactites, islands, waterfalls, adventurous trails... Just what I like! Swimming in the river was fresh but fun because of the current. Dinner and bed: absolutely amazing falling asleep with the sound of the river and the crickets.
The morning after I went for a great adventure: hiking up through the forest to the entrance of a cave and walking, swimming, diving through it... So much fun! After 45 min of cave we came back to the sun repelling a waterfall and crossing the strong river attached to a line. I think I was born for this kind of stuff! In the pm we were on a bus to Medellin again: taking the overnight bus to Turbo, COP$60, 9hrs, and then 2.5hrs lancha to Capurgana', tropical remote Carabbean town right next to Panama.
Visit to the Medellin botanical garden: nice site, especially the Orchideorama, an open building very well integrated with nature. For dinner we went back to Zona Rosa at Rojo, where we had a good meal with live jazz and backgammon. There are few Yoga options in Medellin, especially Atman Yoga has a nice schedule in different locations in the city, including Orchideorama. Because of the rain I couldn`t actually try any but I will!
Next step: going to Guatape`, a beautiful set of island overlooking a large artificial lake. From Terminal del Norte we took a bus to Guatape', COP $12k, 2hrs.
We arrived there and it was rainy and cold and with nobody around... With the rain everything sucks!
Sadly we had to leave Finca San Sebastian this am, we love you guys!! After the tuk tuk ride back to town we hitch- hiked our way back to Medellin because all the buses were full. We found accommodation in El Poblado at Hostel Casa Blanca, $22 w shared bath. Rain in the pm so no crazy nightlife for a change! In the am we went visiting la 'zona rosa', which is a newly developed area full of restaurants and bars. I like more artsy, creative areas but it seems to be the hottest spot in Medellin. In the pm after the rain we went to the old centre. It rained again for a while, but we still went to the Botero sculpture garden, Parque de Los Pies Descalzos, and to the zona Fucsia, which we thought being the artsy alternative to zona rosa but it's actually not. More rain and dinner at the hostel, again no crazy night life.
We spent these days at Finca San Sebastian surrounded by Nature and good company. Our friends Matilda and Alexis are about to be ready to officially open the doors to guests as a Hostel and we are here also to help them: we scrubbed the walls of a bungalow to prepare them for painting, and brainstormed with them on marketing and management options. They have an organic vegetable garden where we picked up our salad ingredents, and herbs for natural teas. We cooked in the open kitchen, chatted, played with their adorable kitten Mila, and ate Easter Swiss chocolate. At night it gets a little fresh: so nice to put on a sweater for a change! I led a couple of Yoga classes on the wide porch with mountain view and Mila joined us. I love her!!! By the way, they are looking for volunteers, especially a yoga teacher!!!
Medellin is a big city in a valley surrounded by mountains, there's a lot of constructions all around but the consistent use of bricks makes it look good. The weather as expected is lovely, no wonder this is the city of the eternal spring!
Metro to El Poblado, the area of town with more hostels, restaurants and nightlife. Everything is closed because it's a festive day. We visit the Black Sheep Hostel and after talking with the friendly owner we quickly realize that it's going to be very quiet all weekend. There's no reason to stay here now and we decide to visit a Finca in the mountains that friends of ours are renovating and in need of help.
Metro back to bus station, bus to San Jeronimo $4, 1hr. We are in the mountains, beautiful landscape. Lunch in the main square, full of locals enjoying the holiday. A group of street musician plays great tango. Grocery and tuc tuc ride up the mountain to get to Finca San Sebastian. 30min of unpaved road uphill on a three wheel vehicle made me quite worry at some point, but the Finca is gorgeous, the people very nice, swimming pool with view, and there's Mila, an adorable 2 month old kitten... and there are hot showers!
Nice chats over dinner and tango music in the background.
__This afternoon the first big procession will parade through the streets of Mompox. The whole town is preparing. Visitors are arriving, the churches are full of flowers and all the procession statues are receiving the final adjustments of their cloths and accessories. You can feel the expectation building up. There's a very strong military presence, a lot of guns. People say the president may come too... and on the other end we are leaving, probably the only ones in town. We have to go to Medellin today because tomorrow is festive and there are no buses running until Saturday and staying two more days here is not an option. It's nice to feel the expectation building up, and very interesting leaving right before the big event happens. I've never done it.
Anyway I still had few adventures today before leaving: my Canadian friends met an archeologist who found human sculls maybe 400 yo in one of the main squares being renovated. We helped him digging them out and we found another bone too! Then I went crazy shopping: leather sandals, a new hat, and filigrana silver hearings. Goodbye Nieto family, thank you for the hospitality. Minivan to Bodega $7, 40min. Chalupa boat to Magangue, $4, 15min. Note: we had to pay also for the missing people because they wouldn't leave if the boat wasn't completely full! Brasilia night bus to Medellin, $60, 12 hrs, we'll arrive tomorrow around 6am.
We went from the hottest heat in Mompox to the coldest cold in the bus: the AC was freezing and they wouldn't turn it down. I had long pants, wool socks and sweater, wool shawl as a blanket and on top of it the yoga towel for protection from the AC wind...
God! It's hot here.. and humid! I was supposed to go for an architecture tour of the town with the Canadian friends but the guide disappeared so instead we went to the market to buy food for dinner: I arrived back home completely sweaty. The middle of the day is hell in Mompox, you can't really do anything but siesta. Robbert came back from his walk with a bright pink chick: apparently it's part of the local Easter traditions to paint the real chicks, not the eggs! We kept it for an hour and then gave it to the maid for her kids: apparently she has more colored chicks at home.
In the evening there was a procession going to the cemetery:all the people light candles in front of family graves. It was a beautiful scene, and we lit candles on abandoned graves. Back home we had a nice evening cooking and chatting with the Canadians.