Turns out making real friends post college is really hard. Traveling has made it quite easy – always new, interesting people to meet. I am going to go home and start talking to whoever is sitting next me… hey, whats your name? Where are you from? And they will all think I’m crazy. Who is this weird girl talking me?? With that in mind I realize how fortunate I am to have made such a good friend while working at Towson University. Courtney and I shared the same position and therefore similar frustrations and luckily similar senses of silly-fun-dress up themed humor. Courtney, or Tney as she is known to me was in on my plan to travel from pretty much the beginning. She was incredibly encouraging for the whole 2+ years that I was thinking, dreaming and planning this year away. She said from the beginning that she wanted to come meet me on the trip and I knew that she would make it happen! Just a FYI, Tney and I both love taking photos to this post contains approximately 1 million pictures. The good news is Colombia is beautiful and so are we so get on board & enjoy the photos!
Tney came down for Towson’s Spring Break and we had an amazing week together. To start with she brought me a list of things I was missing from home – peanut butter, Frank’s RedHot, Pepto and Dayquil! Amazing. We spent our first few days exploring Medellin. We went to Botero Plaza and visited Mueso Antioquia to check out Botero’s work. Courtney is a huge fan of street art and statue parks so Medellin was a good fit for her! We took a walking tour all through the city and I learned a lot of new things. We checked out the street art in Cuidad del Rio, wandered through Parque Explora (a hands on science park), hide from the rain in the Botanical Garden and rode the metro cable to Bibloteca Espana. We did a lot! Packed it in but also relaxed. Courtney was very interested to hear that Colombians eat chicken – rotisserie style or wings with plastic gloves. She had a great time in Medellin and really liked all the things we did but I think her favorite thing was the chicken gloves!
Another memorable experience from our time in Medellin was when we took a taxi and our driver fell asleep. Fell asleep while driving us. Courtney and I screamed from the backseat and he woke up as we were rolling into the back of a bus. Thankfully we had been coming up to a red light so we were moving very slow. The driver just giggled like it was cute or something. Courtney and I were NOT pleased. Who falls asleep while breaking for a red light?? Oh Medellin, your taxi drivers do leave something to be desired. But, you know, no one was hurt so all’s well that ends well.
From Medellin Courtney and I headed into the Zona Cafetera, the Coffee Region of Colombia. We stayed at a beautiful ranch house turned hostel in Salento. We wanted to do a coffee tour and decided we would go to one that was supposed to be about a 10 minute walk away. Mmmhmm, an hour and a half or so later and we finally arrived. Lucky for us it was all down hill and the scenery was beautiful. We had a very sweet tour guide who showed us all about the process of planting, harvesting, picking, roasting and brewing coffee. Courtney and I were given a chance to pick beans. I thought we did great. Our guide… NOT impressed with our work. Guess its office life for us.
The most important thing we learned is the difference between Tier 1 and Tier 2 coffee. Anything we drink in the States is Tier 1 – obviously there are differences in quality but it is all Tier 1. Colombians and most coffee producing countries drink Tier 2. Tier 1 coffee smells delicious and rich. Tier 2 coffee smells like dirty gym socks. It amazing the difference. It’s sad that the people who are producing the best coffee drink absolute shit coffee. So drink up gringos and enjoy the good life!
The main reason people come to Salento is to hike in the Valle de Cocora. This valley is famous for having the tallest palm trees in the world. The Wax Palm is the national tree of Colombia and it is beautiful. We hiked for about 8 hours but only spent the last two hours or so among the palms. The hike was beautiful and muddy. We both slipped in the mud at different times. At one point we decided our best option was to get off the trail, shimmy under the barbed wire and walk among the cows. You know, as you do. The trail criss crossed over a river for a while which involved going over incredibly sketchy bridges that are actually really fun. We also explored an area full of hummingbird feeders – another of Tney’s favorite things! It was a great but exhausting day. When we finally made it to the palms we were amazed. It felt like we were in a Dr. Suess book. Just amazing. I couldn’t recommend it more!
Salento was amazing but with only 9 days it was already time to move onto the next! We came back to Medellin and from there took a day trip to the pueblo of Guatape. Guatape is probably the most popular day trip from Medellin. It is famous for La Piedra, the rock. A giant rock with a staircase built into the side. You can climb to the top. All 740 steps. People will tell you that it’s not that hard and it really isn’t but I mean, 740 is a lot of steps! The views from the top are amazing so its vale la pena, worth the climb.
What I didn’t know until I got there was how pretty the town of Guatape is. This was the only town that I saw the buildings decorated in this way. It was a fantastic last day to an incredible visit! It was so important to me to share a place I loved so much with someone who total gets my love of travel! Tney thank you for visiting!
Courtney and her husband, Mike (my former roommate!) have just recently moved to Colorado. I am so excited to visit them and have our next adventure!