This morning we were picked up by Katherine in her “little red taxi” and driven to the town of Salento which one of the first settlements in Quindio. We had been told that it was a beautiful city but weren’t really sure what to expect.
The drive was magical as the mountains and coffee plantations expanded before us…..
I especially enjoyed talking to Katherine about the area and appreciated when she said that she loved showing us the “Magic of Colombia and the beauty of Quindio”!!
The city of Salento is quaint and all of the houses are decorated in the historic colors.I loved this small street with it’s brightly colored doors and windows
You may notice the Hostal (hostel) sign on the right. This is an area that is filled with backpackers and other young people touring the country and I am sure that Hostel space comes at a premium!!
Katharine had told us that we needed to hire a jeep and take a ride but we didn’t really know where to. We just trusted her judgment and did as we were told and we were SO glad that we did!!!
Here is our jeep with the old people in the front and the youngsters filing the back…
They put as many people on each jeep as they could which meant that there were always one or two people standing up in the back……
Two of the young women sitting in the back of our jeep actually stood up in the back for most of the trip, even though there was plenty of sitting room.
As we traveled down the road we passed amazing terraced hills, fields of cattle and endless palm trees….
We arrived at our drop off point and, still not knowing exactly where we were, followed the throngs to the start of a hiking trail in the Parque Nacional Natural Los Nevados. We hadn’t dressed particularly well for hiking but we headed up the trail to see what we could see!!!
Evidently they can grow to 200 feet tall and are considered to be the “Skyscrapers” of the palm family!!
At one point we could hear whistling and a dog barking up on the slopes. We searched to find the generator of the noises and saw a gentleman and his dog moving a herd of cattle. It was great fun to see the dog running back and forth keeping them in line.
We stopped often, taking many photos of the flora….
As a matter of fact, we took SO many pictures that we were barely moving up the trail. We had a good laugh when we realized that if we do this on our Annapurna trek, we will never make it to base camp!!!.
We soon heard the clomp of horses behind us and belatedly realized that we could have ridden up the trail rather than walked….silly us!!
Each group of riders was accompanied by a Vaquero (cowboy) who followed dutifully behind the horses. If they started going too fast or got too far away from him, he would whistle to them and they would respond. These guys were wearing rubber boots and must have been unbelievably fit to jog up and down these trails many times each day!!!
Michael’s sharp eyes found this fascinating plant growing in a tree…..
We couldn’t get close enough to be able to tell exactly what it was but it could have been a type of Orchid or a Parasitic plant (any help from the Colombia students would be appreciated!!!)
I know that this photo makes it look like Michael is dutifully photographing bare ground…..
It was hard capturing his wings, but his body color was fantastic!!!
We followed the trail further along and ended up basically in a ditch with 5 foot walls on each side. I guess that this has happened over the many years of people walking this trail.
….and the texture in these leaves….
We found this TINY (maybe 2 inches tall) plant on a rock ledge. I am assuming that it is a fern of some sort since it has spores on the leaves…..
We crossed this CRAZY wooden bridge that swung as we walked…..
This pack horse/mule was apparently glad to be off of the trail….
A number of horses came walking in without riders and obviously knew that it was time for their siesta. They ignored everyone else and headed on down the road to their pastures.
We had a good giggle as we watched one of the Vaqueros head out of the barn with a new group of riders. As they left the gate, he crossed himself as if to say “Please let us make it back again!!!”.
This time we opted to ride in the back of the jeep and met a lovely young woman named Miriam. She was English but born in Belgium and is now living and teaching in Thailand…wow!! She has been touring South America for the last three months and plans to be gone for an additional three months!!
There was a man, woman and young girl who were standing along the road and the driver stopped to pick up the Mom and daughter. They said quick goodbye’s to the Dad and climbed aboard. We stopped again to let them off just inside the town.
We passed a large group of school kids out for lunch and I was astonished to see that most of the boys had Mohawk haircuts….haven’t seen those for a while!!
We were dropped off at the center of the town square and decided to check out an interesting church…….
The interior was very beautiful with a modern style that was pleasing….
I particularly appreciated the mixture of wood and fabric in the décor and found the use of balloons on the alter to be a fun touch.
Our last task in Salento was to hit a few of the shops in the area. Most were filled with typical tourist stuff but then we ominously found one that had wonderful, well crafted wood carvings. Michael walked out of the store looking like this…..
Now I am trying to figure out how we are going to pack all of this, PLUS the things that I have bought or plan to buy!!!
We found the bus back to Armenia, drove 500 yards and stopped so that the driver could get coffee! We enjoyed a leisurely trip back to the Armenia Terminal and then found a taxi back to our hotel.
I ran across the street to the grocery store to pick up a few things and then witnessed a sweet interchange. There was an older woman trying to cross a busy street at cross walk but without a light. Many cars had whizzed past as she waited. Finally, a taxi stops, puts on his emergency flashers and sticks his hand out of the window and motions for other cars to stop as well. She (and I) crossed safely!!!