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A Day in Salento, Colombia

Updated on April 9, 2012
Beautiful balcony in Salento
Beautiful balcony in Salento

Salento, beautiful Colonial Town in the Heart of Coffee Country

Last week my husband and I visited Salento, a small town in the heart of coffee country in central Colombia. The drive from Pereira where we live took about 1 1/2 hours, most of it on a highway and then a little ways on a smaller paved road. Since we are in the mountains of Colombia, the road was curvy and the views around us were beautiful. We stopped a couple of km before Salento at a rest stop and had, of course, coffee! It was delicious and helped warm us up in the cool mountain air.

The road into Salento leads right up to the town square, the "plaza". On the plaza there is the Catholic church of course (all plazas have a Catholic church), many shops, cafes, a couple of government offices, and lots of people milling around. I'm always amazed at the number of people sitting around talking at the plazas here. Many are older men who are retired, and their social life takes place at the plaza.

We found a parking place down a side street...good thing the emergency brake works well, as no street is flat or level in this part of the country! We enjoyed looking around in the shops where artisans display their crafts: leather purses, straw hats, ponchos, jewelry, wind chimes, mosaics, bamboo lamps, trays, vases & candlesticks, coffee (of course), coffee wine, coffee candy and coffee with chocolate!

One of the things I appreciated the most was the colonial architecture, with the colorful windows, doors and balconies (see photos below). I couldn't seem to stop taking photos!

At the end of one prominent street, there are steps (many) up to the top of the hill, with 15 stations representing the life and death of Christ. During Holy week, the stairway gets a lot of use as many devout Catholics climb to the top. It is said that some even climb up on their knees although we didn't see anyone on their knees.

After working up an appetite, we drove a little further to Cocora, where there are several typical restaurants that serve trout as their specialty. We chose "Donde Juan B" (Juan B's Place), and enjoyed the live 3 man band who sang old (ancient) folk songs and boleros as we ate lunch. It always amazes me how EVERYONE here knows the words to all the old songs. Even the young people were singing along. I can't imagine going into a restaurant in the U.S. and hearing a trio sing songs from the 1940's with everyone singing along. I supposed it's part of their culture with songs being passed down from one generation to the next. Young people here seem to have a solid grasp on their roots.

The lunch was delicious: I started out with a Canelazo, a hot drink with cinnamon, rum, and passion fruit, and cinnamon sugar around the rim of the cup. It warmed me up! Then came fried trout, patacon (plantain banana pressed very thin and fried), salad and rice, and of course coffee to keep us awake on the drive home.

The Colombia people smile and laugh a lot, and there is an optimism in the air that is contagious. They have been through a lot as a nation, and as things are improving, the people can't help but feel hopeful and happy.

Until next time,

Debbie

Photos of Salento

A Bed and Breakfast doorway
A Bed and Breakfast doorway
Balcony coffee shop
Balcony coffee shop
A Bed and Breakfast
A Bed and Breakfast
Blue Balcony
Blue Balcony
Old clock and crowds of people
Old clock and crowds of people
Another beautiful door
Another beautiful door
A balcony overlooking the plaza
A balcony overlooking the plaza
Down a side street
Down a side street
Orchids growing in an old tin pan
Orchids growing in an old tin pan
The "Canelazo" that warmed me up
The "Canelazo" that warmed me up
"Juan Valdez" and I
"Juan Valdez" and I
Mountain cottage
Mountain cottage

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    • debbiepinkston profile image
      Author

      Debbie Pinkston 5 years ago from Pereira, Colombia and NW Arkansas

      Thanks! I could actually write a whole hub about the stray dogs in Colombia. They are everywhere, but they seem quite happy enjoying their freedom and very few are menacing. Usually they just want a scrap of food...

    • Dbro profile image

      Dbro 5 years ago from Texas, USA

      Debbie - What an interesting and beautiful hub! I love your photos! I especially like the sleeping dog in the lower left corner of the bed and breakfast doorway photo! Too funny! Thanks so much for sharing your wonderful experience in Salento with us!

    • debbiepinkston profile image
      Author

      Debbie Pinkston 5 years ago from Pereira, Colombia and NW Arkansas

      It truly is a beautiful land, with beautiful people...

    • profile image

      Silvio 5 years ago

      it is nice to see this beautiful land through your eyes, it shows another very important facet instead of the violence which affected this land years ago and which the bad press do not want to let if go.

    • debbiepinkston profile image
      Author

      Debbie Pinkston 5 years ago from Pereira, Colombia and NW Arkansas

      I may do another hub on windows, for some reason I have always loved taking photos of windows.

    • Claudia Tello profile image

      Claudia Tello 5 years ago from Mexico

      Salento seems to be quite green and colorful! I like your interest for windows, doors and balconies. Thanks for sharing.

    • debbiepinkston profile image
      Author

      Debbie Pinkston 5 years ago from Pereira, Colombia and NW Arkansas

      Thanks! I love taking photos here. I want to start a collection of photos of people here.

    • Natashalh profile image

      Natasha 5 years ago from Hawaii

      These are super awesome photos. Thanks for sharing them! Voted up and awesome.