Sunday, August 18, 2013

A Tale of Two Fincas - Part II

As I have mentioned before, making connections with people while traveling is  a sure fire way to enrich your experience. 
Before leaving the coffee oasis of
Cordoba, Dignorey made sure that we had a contact in our next destination, Salento. Salento is a cute town in the coffee region with plenty of restaurants, shops and hostels. It is very tourist friendly; (For the fist time since Bogota we saw other fair-skinned travelers with the usual oversized packs strapped to their backs). The prices were also quite high, although we did find a delicious restaurant, Rincón de Lucy, that serves up a hearty menú del día for 6000 pesos ($3). 

Our host, Lilli was so eager to show us the view from her finca before sundown that she picked us up in her new car a couple towns away so we didn't have to deal with taking the bus. This was already feeling a world away from Cordoba, where most people get around by hailing down an old jeep. The drivers there will stop for anyone, no matter how limited space is. (We once counted and there were 13 in one jeep!) As we zipped along the perfectly paved roads in Lilli's plush car, we were a little apprehensive to pay a higher rate ($40 per night) for our room at the finca. Our apprehension quickly disappeared when we arrived and saw her one acre piece of paradise: The finca is situated on a peninsula in the sky: The flat, grassy yard juts out in an oblong semi-circle about 300 feet above the river and valley floor. There are spectacular views on three sides and we had our choice of hammocks, benches or even a lounger to take it all in. It is absolutely breathtaking.

It gets better...

Our room had floor to ceiling windows looking out to this wonderful view: this alone is worth much more than what she was asking. 

We were treated very well for the three days we spent here. The caretakers (a young couple with a 5 month old baby) made us a hearty breakfast every day: scrambled eggs with onion and tomato, warm arepas, coffee, fresh squeezed orange juice, hot chocolate and croissants. We were the only guests during our time here so the place felt like it was our own private island (or peninsula) in the sky. 

We really lucked out finding another gem (Lilli). Although she doesn't live at the finca, she was very attentive and sweet. She called to check up on us and gave us tips for things to see before we leave. She also came by one afternoon to take us on a nature hike and pick fruit from the trees. 

Jarrod was able to put our bike tool to use to help them adjust the brakes:

During our stay here we went for an adventurous mountain bike ride, hiked to a hummingbird haven in the clouds of Valle de Cocora and on our last night we introduced the caretakers to an all-American treat: S'mores by the campfire!

What made our ride "adventurous"? Well, besides getting caught in a downpour which transformed our dirt road into a temporary river, we also went the wrong direction (twice), acquired a canine riding companion (we called him Tinto), crossed the river (three times) and almost hopped a locked gate to cross private property and make a loop (Jarrod nixed this idea). 

Oh, and we also stumbled upon a giant cupcake!

Valle de Cocora:

As you can see, fincas come in very different shapes and sizes. We felt like we found the very best in the the region: we were so satisfied with our time at Dignorey's place in Cordoba and Lilli's in Salento. Each was wonderful in its own way. Of all the places I've visited, the coffee region in Colombia is one that I definitely see myself returning to someday. 

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