Spending the day at lovely Hacienda El Paraiso... and of course also tried traditional food :P

Santa Elena Travel Blog

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in our way to the Hacienda, surrounded by trees
Bus won't drive you to the Hacienda. They stop at "El Placer" bus stop. I did some research about how to go to the Hacienda and it was suggested to catch a cab; otherwise it would be a long 17km walk under the sun, pfff. There were several taxis there and the destinations were either the town or the hacienda (farm). They didn't use taxi meters, so it was time to bargain. I asked 2 taxis and they were charging the same, so let's go with 1st one. The taxi driver was an old guy and was kind.

If the driver was old, the taxi was older and the stereo even older! hahaha. I don't remember when was the last time I saw a stereo with a tape recorder whit a tape in it! We weren't listening to it, but it looked like if it was working recently, pfff.
the gates of the Hacienda
The hacienda is on a hill and the road to go there was nice and surrounded by canefields, other haciendas and vegetation. The landscape was totally different as the one in Cali. Cali is a city and everything here was green. The view of the valley was just amazing!

After a 15min drive, we arrived to "Hacienda Paraiso". It was what I expected: a lovely and big white hacienda. Why did I want to visit it? Well, there's a famous Colombian writer, who wrote a romantic novel - which I had to read when I was in highschool - in this hacienda. The novel takes place here. Actually it was an autobiographic novel. The name of the novel is "Maria" which is also how people in the area know this place.
view of the house
I remember they saying: "she's going to La Maria!" hahaha. Maria is a love story, really cheesy sometimes - well most of the time, but it's a classic of Latin American literature. Other reason why I liked the hacienda was the fact that "Efrain" name was written in several places (that was the name of the protagonist of the novel) and that's also my brother's name.

The entrance includes a tour through the hacienda, which is only available in Spanish, but the last group had already left. So let's wait 10min until the next one leaves. No problem. Ok, it was time to leave. The guide was telling us the story of the hacienda, each room had a story related to the novel, that was nice! But it wasn't only about the novel, but also about the customs in Colombia back in those days.
at the hacienda
I was the only one taking so many pics, hahaha. And he was always waiting for the senorita (Miss) who takes pics, how nice!

The tour lasted about 1 hour, but you are able to stay there as long as you want just enjoying the view of the valley, the lovely gardens and the peace of the area. The guy was mentioning so many details about of the novel and I remembered most of them, but not all of them. For a moment I felt tempted to go back home and read the book again, but then I remembered how boring it was and decide to keep the good memories, hahaha. Well, it was time to start the way back to Cali. Most of the people drive here, so if you are driving a cab it'd be a good idea to arrange them to pick you up or wait for you. I didn't have any idea how long it'd take to visit the hacienda, so I didn't arrange anything and deep inside I was hopping I'd be lucky to find a cab ;)

Guess what.
rose with bee
There were no taxis outside, oh no! But everything happens for a reason. A lady approached promoting a restaurant that serves regional food. I told her I'd like to try it, but I had a small problem. "I don't know how to go there. I don't have a car". So she called a guy who was driving his bike and then he came with a cab and drove us to the restaurant, which was half way to the bus stop. The lady gave me a card to get something complementary and told me to tell that "la Mona" sent me, hahaha. While we were driving I realized I didn't have change with me. Oh no! None of us had change! We weren't missing much just few cents - or the equivalent. "Don't worry" said the taxi driver. He asked if he should come back later. Mmm, it was already half way to the bus stop, plus the rest of the way was just going down.
complimentary: miniglasses of wine and patacon (large toasted plantain)
"Thanks, but no thanks."

Ok, it was time lunch time! It was early and place was empty. I was a bit scared this would be a tourist trap, pffff. Anyway, there weren't many other options nearby. So, just cross fingers. Gulp! The waiter came with the advertised complimentary wine. Well, it was a local wine which was red and very sweet, not the best for my taste. But I was trying something local. Of course it wasn't a glass, but a mini glass. Well, let me check the menu :P

The plan was to eat just local food and it included the drinks, so we got a local fruit juice: lulo! no milk please, and for me no sugar also ;) The waiter left the menu, so I could study it. Then he came back with the juices and complimentary patacon pisa'o (a long and thin pasty of fried plantain) with hoga'o (a sauce made with chopped onions and tomatoes - similar to the pomodoro).
Sancocho Valleucano
Perfect! I love plantains! Yummy!!! Well, I knew I wanted something local, so I asked him what he could recommend.

I got the traditional "Sancocho Valleucano", which includes a soup with yuca and plantain. The chicken was brought in another dish, with some salad, rice and potato. Wow! that was a lot of food. I tried the soup and was ok, but missing some flavor for me... The chicken was just boiled and had some of the tasty hoga'o sauce, but added some aji (spicy) to make it tastier :P Shawn got the "Arroz Atollado" which has rice. It's similar to a risotto and includes meat, veggies. It looked good, but I'm not a big fan of rice... although I love how the food was served, in a small pot, how sweet. Did I eat everything? No, it was too much. Just finished the chicken, salad and had 2 spoons of the soup.
nice and laid back hacienda
It was a hot day and a warm soup wasn't the best idea, hahaha. The waiter was concerned I didn't eat everything and asked if there was a problem with my food. "No! it's tasty, but it's too much... sorry".

Although I didn't eat much of my dish, I ate almost the whole plantain hahaha. So, I was full too... well, this time we'd go walk to the bus stop. It wouldn't be difficult to find our way, there was just one road... at least I thought so... I was taking pics and saw a small fire fighter truck. How cute! Hey! the firefighters are not playing they are extinguishing a real fire! Kept on walking and wanted some water, but no change!
Ok, just keep on walking a bit more.

Then I saw there were more stores... we were near the main square of the town.
Maria & Efrain, the main characters of the town
Let's go there! Found a store with change and took a small walk around the main square, where I found a statue of Efrain & Maria,hahaha. Well, better start walking and go to the bus stop... back to the main road and realized we are lost! hahaha. I asked a lady how to go to the bus stop and she said it was better to go back to the square and take a cab to the bus stop. It wasn't that close...

Back to the square, take a shared cab and go to the bus stop. The lady was right, that wasn't a short walk and I realized I did a wrong turn at some point, actually didn't turn. Oh well, it was 2:30 when we arrived to the bus stop. This bus stop was popular, just waited 5 min for a bus going to Cali. There were available seats. Bus wasn't brand new but was comfy, cheap and most important going to Cali.
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in our way to the Hacienda, surrou…
in our way to the Hacienda, surro…
the gates of the Hacienda
the gates of the Hacienda
view of the house
view of the house
at the hacienda
at the hacienda
rose with bee
rose with bee
complimentary: miniglasses of wine…
complimentary: miniglasses of win…
Sancocho Valleucano
Sancocho Valleucano
nice and laid back hacienda
nice and laid back hacienda
Maria & Efrain, the main character…
Maria & Efrain, the main characte…
Hacienda El Paraiso: 17km away
Hacienda El Paraiso: 17km away
several taxis at El Placer bus stop
several taxis at El Placer bus stop
this is an old stereo!
this is an old stereo!
cane field
cane field
welcome to Hacienda El Paraiso
welcome to Hacienda El Paraiso
sweet gardens
sweet gardens
Jorge Isaacs the author of the nov…
Jorge Isaacs the author of the no…
lovely house
lovely house
Beautiful gardens
Beautiful gardens
lovely trees at the hacienda
lovely trees at the hacienda
gates of the Hacienda
gates of the Hacienda
lovely path surrounded by roses
lovely path surrounded by roses
Bedroom of Efrain
Bedroom of Efrain
Efrains bedroom
Efrain's bedroom
Efrains desk
Efrain's desk
big tree at the entrance
big tree at the entrance
Efrains estudio
Efrain's estudio
Daughters bedroom (Emmas)
Daughter's bedroom (Emma's)
other part of the living room
other part of the living room
A living room
A living room
the porch
the porch
oratory in the Hacienda
oratory in the Hacienda
The fathers room
The father's room
Daughters bedroom (Emmas)
Daughter's bedroom (Emma's)
Mothers bedroom
Mother's bedroom
the mothers room: her bed (yes, t…
the mother's room: her bed (yes, …
view from Marias bedroom
view from Maria's bedroom
sewing room
sewing room
gardens at the back of the hacienda
gardens at the back of the hacienda
Maria, main character of the novel
Maria, main character of the novel
the Dining Room
the Dining Room
Batman!!!
Batman!!!
the big table at the Dining Room
the big table at the Dining Room
Part of the kitchen
Part of the kitchen
the guide explaining details of th…
the guide explaining details of t…
a device to mill...
a device to mill...
Open kitchen
Open kitchen
back of the hacienda
back of the hacienda
the slaves bedroom
the slaves' bedroom
detail
detail
inside the hacienda
inside the hacienda
back of the hacienda
back of the hacienda
big trees
big trees
lovely gardens
lovely gardens
nice gardens
nice gardens
roses...
roses...
nice rose
nice rose
funny praying:
San Antonio, give …
funny praying: San Antonio, give…
view from the Hacienda
view from the Hacienda
Drinks: lulo juice & local wine
Drinks: lulo juice & local wine
I Part of Sancocho Valleucano: sou…
I Part of Sancocho Valleucano: so…
II Part of Sancocho Valleucano: bo…
II Part of Sancocho Valleucano: b…
Atollado Valleucano: wet rice with…
Atollado Valleucano: wet rice wit…
an Hacienda for rent!
an Hacienda for rent!
cute (?) figurines
cute (?) figurines
one of the 7 dwarfs
one of the 7 dwarfs
Sleeping gnome
Sleeping gnome
houses along the road
houses along the road
nice oven
nice oven
wooden furniture for sale
wooden furniture for sale
Small firefighters truck
Small firefighters truck
small firefighter truck
small firefighter truck
Firefighters in action
Firefighters in action
Firefighters in action
Firefighters in action
Sta. Elena
Sta. Elena
Sta. Elena main Church frontside
Sta. Elena main Church frontside
Sta. Elenas main Church
Sta. Elena's main Church
Sta. Elenas altar
Sta. Elena's altar
Inside Sta. Elenas Church
Inside Sta. Elena's Church
taking care of the speakers
taking care of the speakers
a classroom at Sta. Elena
a classroom at Sta. Elena
Main Square at Sta. Elena
Main Square at Sta. Elena
selling the traditional wine
selling the traditional wine
El Placer bus stop
El Placer bus stop
ventilation system at the bus
ventilation system at the bus
bus going back to Cali
bus going back to Cali
Santa Elena Sights & Attractions review
A lovely Colombian Hacienda - Hacienda el Paraiso
If you are in Cali, visiting an hacienda in the countryside is highly recommended. There are a couple of haciendas to visit in the area, but the lovel… read entire review
Santa Elena General Tips & Advice review
Going to Hacienda El Paraiso from Cali by bus
Hacienda Paraiso is located about 1hr from Cali. Don't worry if you don't have a car, you can catch a bus in order to go there. You have to catch a… read entire review
Santa Elena Restaurants, Cafes & Food review
Typical Valleucana food at Restaurant Sabor Criollo
Located between Hacienda El Paraiso and the nearest bus stop, you'll drive in front of it no matter what. Along the road there are a couple of rest… read entire review
Santa Elena
photo by: yadilitta