It was time to travel as I had a week off teaching as it was Semana Santa: basically Easter week. After different discussions with friends around the country, we decided to do the coffee region plus Medellin, which is my current home town.
Our first stop was Armenia, a city in the heart of the coffee region, where a few of our fellow colleagues are placed.
In Medellin, I met one of my friends at the bus station, where we ended up having to change our ticket because she was delay as it took a lot longer to get there than she thought. Anyway, while I was waiting, I ate a Bandeja Paisa meal so I was ready for a long, well… like 6 hours or so, journey ahead. The bus was pretty uneventful, where we nattered away until arriving in the early hours of the morning. We also bumped into another guy, who would be joining us too. Once we arrived in Armenia, we just took a taxi to the hostel, quickly checked in and fell straight asleep.
In the morning, we met up with the some of the others in the hostel foyer. It was so great to see them after being separated for about a month. We had arranged to meet up with two people living in Armenia, where they showed us a vegetarian breakfast place, which was delicious, I must say. It didn’t have the traditional kind of breakfast but something tasty and original.
Early afternoon, after another friend joining us, we caught a taxi to the bus station as we had planned to go on a coffee tour in Buenavista.
However, when we got to the bus station, there were no bus for over an hour and we needed to be there at a specific time. As there were loads of us, we were able to take an Uber to the pueblo. Wandering around the plaza, we met our coffee tour guide, Don Leo from the Caficultur tour and his translator, who bought us all a cup of coffee in the centre of the plaza. There were a lot of people around as there was some sort of festival but I couldn’t work out what they were celebrating. We chilled here for about an hour, talking and drink, while we waited for some others to join the same tour.
Soon enough, we started the tour, dawdling down a steep hill, stopping and starting while our guide, first told us about his background and the history of the area and farm. It was extremely interesting as he had gone through a lot, being abused and working for the mafia and on cannabis farms, and telling us about his dreams.
After, he showed us different plants, fruits and flowers and explained these and how they are related to Colombia and coffee production.
When we arrived to his house, after a decent walk, we sat around a table to share lunch together of bean soup, rice, yukas, salad and those who were not vegetarian, some meat along with some juice. Oh and course some coffee. It was a coffee tour after all. Once we were fully satisfied, our guide took us around the farm, showing us coffee plants, the view and the machinery to produce coffee. It was interesting to hear that they separate the different quality of beans into three grades, and that generally Colombia uses the lowest bean in there tinto, chain stores usually have the middle bean and the top quality bean is export to expensive, individual businesses. The whole tour was absolutely fascinating with so much information with a lovely guide and his translator. We hike back up the hill to the plaza, walked around with the colourful buildings and saw a beautiful sunset overlooking the coffee fields. After, we took the bus back to
Armenia bus station the a taxi to our hostel. We relaxed for a little before going on a mission to find food. There wasn’t too many options but we managed to find a burger place, which did vegetarian burgers with chips, which was tasty.
In the evening, we sat in the hostel drinking wine before deciding to go out. We were trying to get into a local pub with salsa dancing but unfortunately it was too busy so we caught a taxi to a karaoke bar, which had been recommended to us. There were many people dancing and singing a mixture of Spanish and English songs. We ordered a bottle of aquadiente (Colombian spirit, a bit like Sambuca), where we had shots of this. It’s different in Colombia because you can buy a whole bottle of a spirit, and you’re not looked at like an alcoholic, which in the UK, you couldn’t even order it. A few of us joined in with the karaoke and sung a song. We were the only gringos so we stood out a lot, with people cheering us and asking us to dance. In the early hours of the morning, we decided to return to our beds to sleep.
The following morning, we sorted ourselves out before going to a café to order a traditional breakfast of arepas, eggs, quesito, rice with beans, juice and a coffee. Then we went back to the bus station to catch a bus to Salento. There are buses regularly going to Salento as it’s a popular destination to go. The bus took about 3 hours.
Where I stayed: Wanderlust Hostel, Armenia – It was very clean and spacious with a shared bathroom and shower. It had a 24 hour desk and you got a free coffee every morning you stayed. There wasn’t any lockers but each bed has a socket and light. The location isn’t in the centre but there are food places around. Also there is an outside area to chill in.