Salento Colombia is a quaint little touristy town. I had e-mailed ahead a reservation to the one hostel listed in the Lonely Planet. My 3 friends from the bus also tried this hostel but it turned out it was completely full due to the upcoming Christmas holiday. Colombians and tourists alike commonly travel over this holiday. They went into town to find a place as I stayed at the hostel. That turned out to be a poor decision, as the poor beds at the hostel hurt my back very bad over the next couple nights. Salento was very charming. I hiked up a hill for the most amazing view of the valley. I met the group from the bus later that night for dinner.
The next morning, I woke up in a lot of pain. The bed had a low spot in the middle. I asked the lady at the hostel if I could switch beds for the next night and she granted my request. I pushed through the pain and walked to the town square to catch a jeep taxi to the Cocora Valley.
We traveled over rough, muddy roads to get to the entrance to this canyon. There were several hikes through the canyon, but the main attraction here were the wax palms, the highest, most unusual palm trees which are only found in a few places in the world. These trees towered above, as I hiked up the valley.
At some point, I got to the junction of some not very well marked trails. The trail was muddy by this point, so I decided to turn around and hike back to the taxi point. Back in town, I went to one of the restaurants on the square. This was one of the best meals I ever had. It was a whole trout on aluminum foil, cut open and covered in a mushroom sauce, and baked. This came with a so called “Super Patacon” which is mashed plantain, spread very thin, and deep friend. Super it was – this thing had to be at least 12 inches in diameter.
This town is also very famous for its “Trucha”, or trout. Even the garbage receptacles in town are shaped like the fish.
After dinner, I stopped at a cute bar with a western theme.
Switching to another bed in the hostel did not help. Instead of having a low spot in the middle, this bed had a high spot in the middle. On Christmas eve morning, I was thanking God it wasn’t an upper bunk, because I was so sore I had to roll out of bed onto the floor. I laid on the floor as I packed my backpack, with tears streaming down my face from the pain. After my pack was full, it took me several minutes to get from lying to standing position. I asked a girl in the room to put my pack on my back, because there was no way for me to pick up the heavy pack and get it on my back. As I walked towards town, the weight of the pack was making my back feel looser, but I was still in pain as I boarded the bus. Luckily, there was one empty seat in the bus…in the back seat. I had to brace myself for every bump in the road. The locals were staring at the tearful tourist and all I could say is “Tengo dolor en mi espalda” or “I have pain in my back.” After a short wait in the town of Armenia, I caught a bus to Cali for the annual salsa festival.
Traveled Dec, 2009