Hello Everyone!! How are you all doing?! I’m sure Sofia already explained this to you but because the Reach the World website is down, I am a little behind in my submissions- so sorry about that! I hadn’t been saving my work on my laptop, only uploading it to the site so now I have learned my lesson to always save my work just in case.
Today’s journal entry is about a beautiful town of Salento I just visited, which is located in the coffee-growing region of Colombia. I flew from Bucaramanga to Armenia (a medium-sized city in Colombia), stayed at a hostel in Armenia for the night, and then took off early the next morning by bus to Salento. When I arrived, it was the quality of air that had changed the most – I felt as though I was breathing the cleanest, freshest air in the world! I did a little exploring around the town center before grabbing a delicious cappuccino (coffee made with milk) and appropriately heading to a coffee farm for a tour. The walk outside of town was beautiful – breathtaking views of the countryside. I also passed many people riding their bikes along the path – people are all super-friendly, greeting me with smiles and “Buenos Días!” meaning “good morning.”
Have you ever heard the words “coffee” and “Colombia” in the same sentence? Colombia is one of the world’s most important exporters of coffee beans, so I wanted to see the farm for that reason, but also because I am kind of a coffee fanatic! Do your parents drink coffee? Here it is common for very young children to drink coffee, even when they are only 6 years old! When I reached the coffee farm, I saw that there was one main house and a few workshop areas, but most wide-open spaces filled with coffee plants. I went on the coffee tour led by a young man named Sebastian with two women from Cali, Colombia. He started with technical information, like how a coffee plant grows, how they harvest the “fruits” and then how those are eventually transformed into the coffee we drink at home! I was completely captivated, and even more excited to walk along the farm and pick my own coffee fruits! Sebastian explained to us we could only select the red ones – the color signaled to us that they were ripe enough to be picked.
Next we learned how the seeds are separated from the juicier part of the fruit, how the beans are dried in the sun, roasted over the stove and eventually ground into the dark, powdery stuff people use to make filtered coffee! The grand finale of the tour was a sample of the coffee grown on the farm! It was delicious.
The next day I traveled to Valley of Cocora (Valle de Cocora) nearby. We took Willys jeeps to the park’s entrance and then started our 6-hour hike! It wasn’t all exercise though, because the scenery was absolutely beautiful and we took a couple breaks along the way. First was for a cup of hot chocolate at a hummingbird reserve! I have never seen those animals up so close! Then we went through a “cloud forest” – have you ever heard of one of those? It was similar to intense fog. Finally we reached the wax palms, giant palm trees, which are the national tree of Colombia. It was so overwhelming to see them stretching up towards the sky – it was easy to feel short next to these magnificent plants!
Overall Salento really impressed me, especially since it is not a well-known place in Colombia. It proved to me how important it is to get to see and know more than just the major cities. It was also really cool to get to meet other travelers from other parts of the world! We might be different, but we all have a love for traveling and a thirst for adventure in common!