Say hello to the emerald Valle de Cocora (Cocora Valley), home to wax palm trees, coffee plantations, and some of the greenest hills we ever did see.
This is the colorful little town of Salento, population 8,000. Perched on the ridge overlooking the valley the town is rapidly becoming a popular tourist destination in Colombia.
If you look really close you will see a river, the Rio Quindio, near the bottom left of this photo. Follow that river to reach the depths of the wondrous valley.
Salento’s town square is a vibrant social hub; you can sit here and watch life in the little town go by. Children play, teenagers flirt, and adults chill out in the shade chatting. You can shop in one of the many stalls set up here during the weekends. Arepa, anyone?
These are two of Salento’s local artists. They make beautiful music together. If you see them in Salento make sure to throw some coins into their collection box.
Salento’s Alto de la Cruz. Anyone willing to walk up 250 steps to reach its summit is rewarded with a commanding view of the town, and of the valley. Oh, and a swing set.
If ever you find yourself in Colombia, which you certainly should, visiting Salento would be considered a very wise decision. We stayed here for a week, and would have stayed longer if time allowed. If we could pick ten places in the world we could teleport to at will, one of them would be Salento.
Swinging on a swing which is perched at the edge of a valley is highly recommended. Everyone should do it, at least once.
Take a short walk outside of Salento and you will find yourself traversing along the top of a valley ridge, with sweeping views on both sides. You will meet many other residents of the valley you didn’t get to meet back in town. Hello Mr. Horsey!
Hello ALL the horsies!
These are wax palm trees, a national symbol of Colombia, found primarily in the Valle de Cocora. You can hike here. You SHOULD hike here.
This is one of the residents of the Valle de Cocora. She likes palm trees too.
These are rows of coffee bushes, on a coffee plantation near the town. We walked a few kilometers outside of Salento to visit the plantation, and to find out where the coffee we drink every morning comes from.
These are coffee plants up close. When you visit Salento you should definitely take a tour of a coffee plantation.
This is Randi. She is picking coffee. I am NOT picking coffee. My excuse is having the camera in my hands, but in reality I’m just a bit lazy.
This is a coffee bean, nestled in the palm of Randi’s hand. The bean had been living in the red berry before Randi picked it from its branch. Raise your hand if you had no idea that coffee came from red berries. My hand is raised.
This clever (and cool looking) device, a product of human ingenuity, separates the coffee bean from its red berry shell, saving people a whole lot of work.
As the day winds down in Salento take another short walk out of town. You might be lucky enough to be treated to cotton candy clouds and polka dot cows.
Admit it, you want to be here. We want to be here as well. All over again.
The sun fades below the crest of the valley, crowning the hills in golden hues. Human and dog alike take a moment to appreciate the riot of color. And reflect back on the day. Obviously.
Goodnight polka dot cows. Enjoy your dinner.
Goodnight awesome looking tree. Stay gnarly!
Goodnight sweet honey suckled valley. We kind of want to write you Valentine’s Day letters. Epic poems to harp upon your majesty. Declarations and professions of love, detailing our sweet desire. We want to write a cheesy romance and call it Fifty Shades of Salento and let the whole world know how we feel about you.
Or we can just stop in our tracks, stare at the sky, and marvel at the exhilaration and adulation sunsets have the power to evoke.
We say goodnight to the light, as the clouds bid farewell to the sun, and the sky yawns at the horse.
Goodnight sweet Salento. Sleep tight. We hope to see you again soon.