A Travellerspoint blog

SOLENTO - Day 139-141

Coffee region

-21 °C

Solento is a very picturesque village in the middle of very green hills where coffee is growing everywhere. Unfortunately, I was feeling pretty crappy for most of the time here.

But on the last day, I dragged myself out of bed to trek the Valle de Chocoa which is a trek through the green pastures into a open area full of the tallest palm trees in the world. With not much in my belly and felling ever so slightly ropey we ventured off in a old American war jeep to the starting point.

The route itself was mainly a gradual incline through lush green fields with cows on either side, then into woodland with a fresh water river flowing in the middle. We crossed several dodgy rope bridges and then started the climb up to the top where a wooden cabin selling the local treat of cheese in hot chocolate was available. I barely got the top and Mel said I went as white as a sheet. But as soon as I got two helpings of hot choccy down my neck and a nice sit down watching the humming birds I felt rejuvenated again.
We marched on down the hill taking the same path back as I didn't really fancy doing the other part of the trek. We finished in some fine rain and I had a baileys ice cream at the finish line.

Posted by Markandmel2016 08:06 Archived in Colombia Comments (0)

CARTAGO - ECO YOGA FARM -DAYS 136-138

14TH MAY FOR 10 DAYS!!!

-27 °C

We set off early and caught a bus to Pereira which by memory took about 6 hours. We then caught another bus to Cartago, a small and non touristy town in the middle of the coffee region. We managed to get ourselves to the meeting point at Muripurita restaurant (just) by walking then getting pissy, then getting a taxi lol.
We then waited for ages and finally got a taxi by some random guy who was maybe a little bit 'special'. His driving skills were something to be desired and eventually we got to the yoga farm in one peace.

Our expectations were quite high as the website and pictures were amazing off this eco farm and we had been looking forward to a relaxing time.

But unfortunately our dreams were shattered when we were driven up a water logged track to the main building which looked like a crappy old hut. We mooched around the back of the building thinking that things would improve but all we found was a water logged and muddy area which looked like where the outside yoga would have taken place.

Anyway we were greeted by the organizer and she showed us around and to our lodgings. This was a wooden shack situated on stilts meters from the flooded river bank. We set down our stuff not impressed by the retreat so far. Anyway we had a guided tour of the farm whilst being attacked by thousands of mossies.

After this we were told dinner was at 730pm and we went back to our hut to relax. As it started getting dark we turned on the one light in our hut and almost immediately the area around the light turned into a swarm of insects which were surrounding the hut inside and out. It was like a scene out of a horror film. We left immediately turning off the light as we did.

Our dinner was the only saving grace in our minds. But again I was disappointed that 1. WE HAD TO SIT ON THE FLOOR 2. THE PORTIONS WERE TINY AND 3. THE HYGEINE was questionable.

Our first night at the farm was farm from comfortable and unfortunately I was eager to leave.

The next day, we had breakfast on the floor and I was given the morning task of collecting and harvesting cocoa pods which actually was quite good fun, If a little sweaty. Mel was given the task of sanding and painting the kitchen door and bench. Not sure she was too happy.

That afternoon, it was a bit boring as there was nothing to do or nowhere to go. We had dinner and then went to bed.

The next day after breakfast I felt really crap and spent most of the day in bed. Mel continued her random quest of sanding and painting. During the night it had rained a lot drenching the ground further and the river was now under our hut. We both agreed in the afternoon that the following morning we would both leave as we were not enjoying it.

In the morning, after breakfast we were plucking up the courage to tell them it was shit and we weren't enjoying it and we were going to leave. But as luck would have it the organiser said she wanted to talk to us about something. We were both concerned. But she said, "The river has flooded too much and we have to evacuate from the farm back to Cartago" We both said "OH NO REALLY" but both thinking omg yes thank god lol.

Later that morning they told us we would be evacuated by boat as the roads were too flooded. We were expecting a large speed boat to come and rescue us. NO NO!!!! Literally, a dug out canoe came fitting only 2 people and our day bags. We were both really concerned as the water was quite fast flowing and when we got in the boat it was literally an inch from the water surface. Thankfully, we arrived safely at the other side of the river and got a jeep back to the town. I was still, feeling very sick and ill so we arranged a very impulsive and expensive night at a fancy hotel some 15km away.

The next day, I still felt pants but managed breaky and we bused it to Solento (an amazing coffee region), where we mooched around the pretty town and I flaked out like a big pansy. The next day or so I was bed/room bound with a bad bottom and Mel got a case of the grumps.

Posted by Markandmel2016 16:03 Archived in Colombia Comments (0)

SOUTH AMERICA- COLOMBIA DAY 133 -DAY 135

-11TH MAY-13TH MAY BOGOTA, COLOMBIA

We wake up early and get a taxi to the airport but on the way the taxi driver stops at another hotel and leaves us in the car wondering what the heck he is doing. 5 minutes later he has not returned so I go up to the hotel entrance to find him stuffing his money into some lottery machine frantically as if it was his last ever chance to play. I literally had to say to him "come on lets go!!"

Anyway we caught the flight with no real issues arriving in Bogota late morning/lunchtime. Another cheap taxi later and we were at our hostel IKU hostel in the old town of Candeleria. The hostel was OK, apart from the tiny room and the kitchen that looked like a crack den.

we then spent the rest of the day looking around the old town which was a myriad of pastel coloured buildings and beautiful wall art and graffatti. We stopped into a veggie cafeteria and had a quinoa burger and fries for £4 total.

In the afternoon we found the main square and a cathedral where there were literally thousands of pigeons hanging around waiting for the person selling the bird seed to make a sell.

Mel bought some fake adidas trainers for a £10.

In the evening we found Hostel Casu which had a cafe on the side where we ate more burgers in amongst what appeared to be a huge family gathering.

Later that night whilst in bed, a group of youngsters were playing a guitar and singing outside our room until very late and he couldn't get to sleep. Plus I was rudely woken at 3am to water dripping on my head from the roof. Not impressed.

The next morning we made a complaint to the staff who all appeared to be a bunch of 18-21 year old knuckle draggers. I requested a refund for the two days booked which eventually they agreed to after the two following comments :

"I WOULDN'T LET A TRAMP USE THAT KITCHEN."
"WE WONT PUT A NEGATIVE REVIEW ON BOOKING.COM"

LOL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Anyway, we rescued our next nights' by booking a much nicer room at Hostel Casu where they even swapped our free breakfast for that day. Much better.!!!
That day we mooched about the Candeleria area getting lost in the pretty cobbled streets taking in all the wall art. Which randomly started off when Justin Beiber came on tour there and decided he wanted to spray paint a hamster on a wall. Then everyone else followed suit and now the whole place is covered but it does look amazing. We visited the gold museum after this which was pretty good seeing some gold masks and old relics (no not me).
Then in the afternoon we went to the fenicular up a mountain which overlooked the city. Pretty amazing views from the top including a church, a food market and some flowering gardens. The ride down wasn't far off being on a rollercoaster and at the bottom we were greeted by a thunderous down pour. Luckily for us a man selling brollies passed us and we whistled to get his attention and bought two cheapo brollies. Armed with our purchases we ran down the now flooded road to a funky coffee shop where we sipped amazing coffee and listened to the heavy rain pattering on the glass roof.

That evening we ate again at the hostel as they did pretty dam good food and it was very convenient for us. Plus I tried out some beer from the Bogota beer company.

The next day we caught two buses one to the north terminal and then one to the town where the Salt Cathedral is located. We had to walk for 20 mins through the local town to get to the Cathedral. We bought out tickets for the entrance but had to wait 45 minutes until the next English guide so we scoffed down our standard peanut butter and banana sandwiches. yummo!!!

The salt Cathedral was simply amazing, a salt mine that had been turned into a Cathedral solely for the workers as it was a pretty dangerous job and they had to prey a lot. The main room had a really high ceiling a huge cross carved out in the wall. The inside of this place was massive with loads of passage ways and praying areas.

After getting the two buses back to Bogota we got some supplies from the market and headed back to the hostel. That evening we ate out at an odd cafe/hairdressers festival place where 4 girls were performing some exotic dancing and singing. We had veggie burger and pasta pesto.

Posted by Markandmel2016 14:13 Archived in Colombia Comments (0)

DAY 129-132 PANAMA CITY

FISH MARKET, SUSHI AND UBER TAXIS!!!

After another breaky of bananas and pancakes we taxied to a nearby town where Mel and I caught an eight hour bus to Panama city and Carrie and Will caught a flight.

We arrived at our Bahia Suites hotel and walked in the rain to find Carrie and Will boozing it up at a local watering hole in the posh area of the city. We dined at a small budget friendly Mexican restaurant Eating Guacamole and tacos for $8 each.

We then walked back to the hotel along the seafront in the nice park area.

The next day, after a crap breakfast of dry cornflakes and fluffy buns, Carrie ordered an uber taxi and we went to Miraflores, and saw the Panama canal. We were well timed and saw a large ship come through the locks. Very interesting to see the mechanics behind the canal and what actually went into it and how long it took to build.

We then ubered to The Causeway which is a man made road linking some islands to the mainland. We got dropped off at a pirate restaurant where we had a fish lunch, Mel had veggies and rice. We then walked along the causeway for miles and stopped at a ice cream parlor and gorged on sweet treats. We walked further along the main road getting the nice views of the sea and the islands. We grabbed a taxi into the Viego part of town where we split up and Mel and I walked around taking in the sights of the buildings etc. I had a bit of a melt down, feeling a bit run down mouth ulcers galore. I had a paddy in the street saying I wanted to go home. haha i didnt really. After finding some much needed ulcer cream we met up with Carrie and Will at a posh cafe overlooking the harbour. To save money we went back to the hotel and ate peanut butter and banana sandwiches.

The next day, there wasn't really much to do or see but we attempted to be cultural and got dropped at some ruins but they were pretty crappy. We then caught a taxi to the fish market where Carrie, Will and I ate some pretty epic fresh fish and Mel had to put up with some crappy made up veggie dish. Sorry Mel!!! We then looked around the Viego part of town and went to a nice coffee shop.

In the evening we all got dressed up for Carries unofficial birthday celebrations. Carrie found an amazing posh sushi restaurant and paid for all of us. We dined for 3 hours or more ordering 4 courses of food and two bottle of red wine. Omg the sushi was incredible and so cheap and the pad thai was awesome. Then we went to a rooftop bar with loud music and drank some more. very nice evening indeed.

The final day, we all got up late and went to a cafe for breakfast as the hotel one was so rubbish. We then went back to the hotel and chilled out until Carrie and Will could pack up their bits. We then went back to the Sushi place again for late lunch and scoffed down as much sushi as we could get in our bellys. yummo!!!

Then it was time to say goodbye to Carrie and Will as they were catching a flight that evening. We said our goodbyes and Mel and I mooched back to the hotel for the remainder of the evening.

Posted by Markandmel2016 08:25 Archived in Panama Comments (0)

DAY 126-128 BOQUETTE

ORGANIC COFFEE, CRAZY RAFTING AND TORRENTIAL RAINS.

-24 °C

Travel morning to Boquette.

Jumped in 4x4 yellow taxi to ferry port, ferry across to main land. Mel and I waited in ferry terminal for Carrie and Will on next boat. Mel had a coconut from a really funny local guy who told us his life story in like 2 minutes. When Carrie and Will arrived we all jumped into a shuttle and headed out through the countryside. We stopped at some random run down restaurant half way and here Carrie found a huge frog in the bog (no really a frog just sitting in the water of the womens toilet) and we gave some boiled eggs and some water melon to two sweet street kids.

We arrived at our EL machito hostel in the afternoon which was situated in the middle of nowhere but with an amazing green fruit tree garden and a cute dog. The hostel had a really nice outside kitchen and our room was lush with large hot shower and garden view.

In the evening we caught a taxi down to the town and mooched around for some time trying to find a decent open restaurant as it was a bank holiday. In the end we settled for 'BIG DADDIES' an Amercian mex establishment where we scoffed tacos and more beer. Carrie and Will had some margaritas.

We were all pretty tired so decided to get an early night.

The next day.... we had booked a full day tour of white water rafting at I think $80 each. 3 plus rapids.

We set off in the shuttle for about an hour to the river where the guides blew up the boats and went through the safety briefs.

There was a lad called Gus who he asked to follow his instructions and he basically got thrown around like a rag doll. The 4 of us had a boat to ourselves along with the guide. Who was hilarious, his really loud commands of "DOWN DOWN" "PADDLE RIGHT" "STRONG FORWARD"
Will and I took the front positions, Carrie and Mel at the back and the guide right at the back steering.

The rapids were pretty crazy and it took us a while to get our balance and it was definately a good work out. Whenever the guide shouted "DOWN DOWN" We had to jump down into the middle of the boat with our paddle up in the air. For some reasons my reactions were very slow and I was always last to do it. I was also the first to fall in with Will grabbing me by the ankle to try and rescue me resulting in me upside down with my head in the water. Quickly I was pulled back in the boat again. Soon after Mel also fell into the water and was tugged back in.

We stopped for lunch on the river bank having veggie salad sandwiches with a delicious pineapple. After lunch, the first 3 rapid was aptly named Vomit rapid by the guide. In a slower stretch the guide said we could get out to swim so I back flipped into the water and bobbed about with everyone. Then after only 1 minute the guide says quick you must get back to the boat rapids coming. He wasn't joking either!!! We swam like crazy to the boat and I was the last to be pulled in but because my legs were dangling down my foot hit a large boulder at speed at the time I did not really feel anything. But I was pulled up just in time to grab my paddle and starting paddling through the next rapids

Fantastic day totally worth the money. At the end point we were sat in the boat on the shore and the guide was laughing and joking with us. Then suddenly he just turned really serious and said "OK OUT NOT" I found this very amusing, but I think you had to be there.

That evening, Carrie and Will went out into town for dinner and Mel and I had a Curry soap thing in the outside kitchen very nice too.

The next day, we took a trip in morning to an organic farm where we had a tour of the farm and some tasting. Carrie roasted her own coffee and we all got some coffee to take away with us. A unique little place where they pay the workers well and sell the coffee to Europe.

IN the afternoon, Carrie and Will got a taxi to some hot springs in the middle of nowhere whilst Mel and I did some well needed shopping in town for clothing and replacing bits that had been stolen.

Later at the hostel, I started getting a bit worried about where Carrie and Will were but eventually they turned up with quite some story to tell. The 10 minute walk from the disco taxi was in fact a 40 minute walk through a jungle down hill. They spent 15 minutes in the hot springs as had to get back to be picked up again. Then the heavens opened and they got drenched, walking up a now running water muddy path with large pigs running around.

That evening it poured with rain, in fact every afternoon from 3pm it did. We played cards and Mel and I ate stir fry and Will and Carrie ordered Pizza.

Posted by Markandmel2016 07:58 Archived in Panama Comments (0)

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