Life on a Coffee Farm

A long wait for a flight this morning, and another wait for a ride, but we made it to Colombia’s famous Zona Cafeteria! We will be enjoying delicious fresh coffee for the next few days from our base on a coffee farm (finca) outside of Manizales. The finca is called Hacienda Venecia and it is proving to be a lovely place to relax after the hectic pace of our city stays the past week.

The finca is outside of the city of Manizales. We flew there this morning and took a very winding cab ride through the mountains to get here. I should have taken a pill before the drive because it was worse than a roller coaster, but we arrived safe and not sick.

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A Long Hike Up a High Hill: Quebrada la Vieja or Chapinero Mountain

We knew we needed the exercise, and our host Robin was willing to take us up the nearby mountain for some outdoor entertainment and views of Bogotá. We got up early this morning and left at 6:30am for a long hike up a very high hill.

We walked from Robin’s apartment to the mountain and then up and back, so all in all it took about 3 hours from start to finish.

We left so early because this land is privately owned and only open to the public until 10am. It’s a beautiful spot along a river with eucalyptus and pine trees so it also smelled great too!

Robin told us the mountain doesn’t have a name, but the river site is called Quebrada La Vieja. I’ve also seen some tours online call it Chapinero Mountain, but there really is not much info about it online. It’s a “secret” locals hike, which in parts felt like it was alone to us. It was also steps from city streets but looked, sounded and felt very remote at times.

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A Bogotá Experience: Andrés DC

Don’t listen to everything Lonely Planet writes. There is a very famous restaurant a half hour north of Bogotá called Andrés Carne de Res – Anthony Bourdain has been and they seat up to 2,000 people at a time! We had already determined that it was too far for us to go so had kind of gotten it out of our heads. Well, last night we were having a beer at a local brewery in a Bogotá barrio called Zona Rosa and noticed that Andrés DC, an outpost of this famous restaurant, was right around the corner from us. Lonely Planet said it wasn’t worth it if you couldn’t go to the original. I am glad we ignored that note!

While not big enough for 2,000 people, Andrés DC is still a big place. Four stories of food, drinks, people, lights and music, it is also a feast for the eyes, ears and palate! Zona Rosa is an upscale barrio with a lot of high end shops and restaurants and while most places were closed or just not that busy on a Sunday night, the brewery and the restaurant were both pretty crowded.

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A Bogotá Bike Tour And the Food to Fuel It

Today was a beautiful day in Bogotá, and a great day to experience the city on two wheels.

On Sundays, a big chunk of main streets in Bogotá are shut down for pedestrians and cyclists for Ciclovia, and we wanted to be part of it! So, we went down to the Candelaria barrio to do a bike tour with Bogota Bike Tours. For 35,000 COP (less than $16 Canadian), we got a 5 hour ride around the city with a lot of facts and fun!

Knowing we were going on a bike tour, and also not having eaten dinner last night because of our massive lunch, we made our first stop a street with lots of Colombian restaurants. We wanted an authentic breakfast,  so visited La Puerta de La Tradicion, and had coffee, a milk soup called changua (which was delicious) and chorizo. The food was good, the service was good and from there it was a quick walk to the bike shop.

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Busy First Day in Bogotá

Bogotá is a big bustling city – the capital of Colombia, with the largest population of 6.7 million – and we arrived yesterday for a 3 day whirlwind tour!

Our flight and taxi rides were easy, and we are couchsurfing with a friendly, interesting and generous guy named Robin. He has a roommate who is on crutches, Anna Maria, and 3 cats. His apartment takes up the 2nd floor of a building in the heart of a great neighborhood called Chapinero. This is a barrio north of the city centre with a lot of nightlife and restaurants.

Bogota Map
Bogota Barrio Map

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Cartagena’s Tourist Area

The guidebooks call it “The Old City,” or “The Walled City,” and the locals merely call it “El Centro” but either way they’re talking about a beautiful place to visit.

Cartagena’s tourist area is a beautiful mess of narrow streets filled with colorful buildings, art, crafts and people. The old city is surrounded by an old stone wall, which makes for a great walk overlooking the sea at dusk when the blazing sun isn’t burning you to a crisp.

Horse drawn carriages mix with taxis in the roads, and tourists work around vendors on the sidewalks. Stroll around and see old churches, modern art sculptures, craft stalls and lovely plazas.

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Ending on a high note

My last few days of volunteering have definitely not been boring! The kids don’t even know it’s my last week, but they are still making life fun!

Things that have happened this week:

  • A little girl threw up all over herself and the little boy sitting next to her – fortunately they were outside. They do have a shower here to wash them when these things happen! I didn’t know! The little boy was sitting there with puke on him for a few minutes when I finally took him and washed it off his legs. No one noticed lol. The little girl was still seated for lunch. She didn’t eat.
  • A little boy peed himself and continued to sit in it looking at himself until someone noticed and took him to the shower. He did the same thing the next day only he was standing outside. Just stood looking at the wet ground until someone took him away. He did it again today. Is this a hat trick?
  • A little girl tried to bite me.
  • Massive food fights in the cafeteria (I cheated though because that happens every day)

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End of The Home Stay

Brian is here. My days in Campestre are over. I am now living the life of a tourist with Brian in the walled city of Cartagena.

After getting Brian settled in to the airbnb, we walked around the old town a bit and then grabbed a taxi so he could meet the important people in my Cartagena experience.

Marcela was there to greet us and Libary came soon after, so we got some photos of the whole gang before we separated for good.

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Last Day in Campestre

Today is my last day at Marcela’s house. Three weeks plus three days have flown by, that’s a fact.

Brian is on his way to Cartagena as I write this and I will be moving out of my barrio home to the touristy side of the city with him.

We are having a little “meet and greet” at Marcela’s this evening so Marcela and her family and Libary will meet mi esposo (Brian). I will post photos for sure!