Guayabo tourist activities in the coffee lands

Armenia Travel Blog

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´Guayabo´ - to be hungover.  But today I am not.  Jared left last night and we had a few shots of aguadiente for the road, which Tony, Sam and I managed to turn into a 4:00am philosophical drinking session.  The ANZAC spirit has been well maintained on this trip. 

 

The last two days have been full of tourist activities organised by our Colombian tour guide, Fernando and Rafa. Our bus driver, Oscar is ´loco´ and it has taken some time to get used to overtaking in a bus past trucks on blind mountain road corners, but he seems to know what he´s doing and knows where to go.  Both Fernando and Oscar speak no English, but they seem to enjoy every moment of their time on the bus with us. 

 

First stop on Tuesday was Solento. Solento is a classic Spanish colonial town in Armenia.  We drove up the hill behind the town where we were great with an amazing view of the green lush valley and ´grande´ mountains, the seem to rise indefinitely and hem in the Armenian province. 

 

Some young fit looking soldiers, carrying full equipment, trooped up the 200 or so stairs up to the top of the hill where we were staying.  It is about 25 degrees here and I didn´t envy them carrying full assault machine guns, ammunition, packs and other equipment up the steep slope.  I am not intimidated by them and in fact feel safer that they are around, but they all look about 16 or 17 years old.  So much for the nanny state in Colombia.

 

We spent a couple of pleasant hours in Solento, a couple of ice cool cervezas in the sun, before heading off to Santa Rose de Cabal, where we went to ´Termales de Santa Rosa´  which had a wonderful waterfall, about 40m high, which we immediately ran to drench our sweaty bodies under, before immersing our now cool frames into the hot thermal pools.  Again we were treated here to some beautiful Colombian girls.

 

Following this we retired back to Finca los Girasoles where we again had a fairly boozy evening with Fernando and Oscar.  Again knocked off at 4.00am.  Again a rather rude awaking at 8:00am.  Crawled out of bed and back on the bus to a coffee estate where we learned in comical fashion, at our expenses, the story of how coffee came to South America and the process of growing, harvesting and drying coffee.  We were dressed up by a young Colombian lad as Arabs, kings, queens, counts and nobels. We got married and gifted coffee plants to each other.  From there, we were dressed in plastic sacks and went out into the coffee fields to pick coffee fruit. Larry, a big black fifty year old American from Los Angles, couldn’t help himself but to make jokes that he had finally returned to his roots in the cotton fields and that he´d better work hard otherwise ´Jed´ might get the shotgun. ´Pa, Pa, get the shotgun Pa, the niggas, they ´a runnin´, through the coffee fields Pa.´

 

The coffee plants tend to be planted underneath plantations of ´plantain´ and bananas trees, both of which look the same but taste different.  The Colombians just have to remember where they planted what.  The fruit is a small red berry, with a white bean on the inside.  The fruit is crushed and the beans laid out in the sun on huge tables to dry.  They are then hand sorted into 1st grade and second grade.  All the 1st grade coffee is exported to the West.  After seeing the work involved in producing coffee, I will never drink it the same again.

 

We then took a trip to a butterfly house, before heading to ´Parque Nacional de Café´, which is a type of theme park buried amongst vast tracts of native trees.  Jared, Sam and I had a pleasant walk around the Parque to ease our Guayabo from the evening before, before heading back to the Finca for a game of ´Tejo´, which is a traditional game played in Colombia in almost every small town.  It´s a bit like petanque, except you throw a round heavy stone disc or ball at a square of clay, about 1 metre square.  In the middle of the square of clay is an explosive cap.  The object of the game is to hit the explosive cap, directo, to make it explode with a loud bang.  3 points for exploding the cap, 1 point if no one explodes the cap, and you are the closest.  Tony couldn’t hit the square of clay.  I thought, being an Aussie, he would have had enough underarm practice, but it appeared not.  Time for a swim in the pool.

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Armenia
photo by: timbo