Adios bad coffee! Manizales to Salento

We’re now smack in the middle of El Eje Cafetero. The heart of Colombia’s Coffee zone. I can’t figure out though why I’m having a hard time finding good coffee. Are the Colombians drinking the good stuff in their secret room away from unsuspecting estrangeros? Well no matter, as I can drink tea nowadays or as we recently discovered, Aromatica de Fruta, Colombia’s version of fruit tea.

Before leaving the urban sprawl of Manizales, we made sure to renew our soon to be expired Colombian visa. We just arrived in time, several days close to the expiration. The affair was straight forward. The process was surprisingly somos and fast. We’re in and out of Imigración Colombia in two hours. To be more efficient, make sure to bring your credit card, otherwise you’ll end up paying thru the bank, a 15-minute bus ride away.  Our new credit cards are waiting for us in Pasto so we have to pay the fees thru the bank and double back to the Imigración Colombia to show our receipt before getting our hot off the press Colombian stamps – new lease on our Colombian life. I must say the two hours included walking back to Imigración Colombia and visits en route to a couple of bike shops all to Dang’s irate. It just feels like heresy walking past a bike shop without chatting and looking around inside.

I can’t believe 3 months have past and we’re still slowly rumbling down this country. A lot of places still to see and explore in this country. Some parts of Colombia beg to be explored but the seasonal weather down south keeps on nudging us to go forward. We will come back in the future for sure.

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Getting ready ride to Salento after a brief stay in Manizales to dry out the gears
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But first, a walk around town…

An early morning walk in balmy Manizales gave me glimpse of what downtown Manizales is all about.

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The Half-moon hotel. Most of them are fairly priced, I’m just not in the mood to carry the bike up a series of stairs though.
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Starbucks Colombia. On the go hot coffee.

In Salento, we went on a coffee tour and did a short hike thru Valle de Cocora, home to beanstalk-esque palm trees. All these were done courtesy of Lucy the backpacker from Philadelphia. We had no idea what to do in Salento other than being the start of the dirt route to Ibague that we plan to take. Lucy was gracious enough to let us tag along, basically  hijack her Salento escapade.

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Salento hike in Valle de Cocora in the forest initially
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Alongside with Lucy(right) and a Colombian family on a weekender from Bogota
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No idea what its name is
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Palma de Cera. National tree of Colombia. Lucy and Dang for scale.

As we found out in the coffee tour, Colombia is the 3rd biggest supplier/exporter of coffee in the world, only behind Vietnam and Brazil. Pretty much all the coffee harvested are shipped out of the country. No wonder good quality coffee is a bit difficult to get a hold of here.

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Coffee flower
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Sea of coffee

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Removing the skin

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Drying the beans
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All set ready for roasting.

Our route: Manizales – Salento. It’s 85 kms total all on pavement.

And the GPS track is here.

 

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