Al café, café

Zona Cafetera: Finca Combia, Parque Panaca, Jardín botánico del Quindio y Parque del Café
6 al 8, 10 y 11 de Mayo, 2011.
Cali a Finca Combia (cerca de Calarcá): 2.5 hs

Al café, café, amargo, dulce, semi-dulce café café
De Cali a la zona cafetera la ruta estaba increíble, viajamos muy tranquilos. Había muchísimas fincas en esta zona y era bastante difícil elegir una, pero finalmente nos decidimos por la finca Combia. Muy buena elección, el lugar es muy lindo, con una pileta divina y una muy buena vista de la región. Pero lo mejor fue que nos atendieron de manera increíble, nos sentimos como en casa. La dueña de la finca (Teresita) siempre estuvo muy pendiente de todo, y tratándonos como si fuésemos su familia, al igual que su hermana y su prima que estaban de visita. A E le regalaron una bandeja enorme con distintas frutas para que siguiera probando todos los tipos de frutas colombianas (zapote, guanábana, maracuya, granadilla y muchas más -pronto E va a hacer un blog de frutas). Desde la finca visitamos varios parques: Parque Panaca (Parque Nacional de la Cultura Agropecuaria), Jardín botánico del Quindio y Parque del Café. El parque Panaca es una gran granja, donde los chicos lo pasaron increíble. Alimentaron cabritas, cerditos y conejitos, T ordeñó una vaca y M se tomó la leche recién ordeñada. Fuimos a varios shows: una obrita de teatro no muy buena sobre la ciudad y el campo, un desfile de distintas razas de ganado, carreras de chanchos, acrobacias de perros, y un show de caballos y jinetes. E estaba un poco agotado, porque todo era bastante comercial (hasta vendían a los animalitos). Terminamos todos cansados después de todo el día con los animalitos. El domingo fue el día de la madre, visitamos el jardín botánico del quindio, un bosque muy lindo con distintos tipos de palmeras, las guaduas (el bamboo colombiano), un mirador de pájaros y mariposario también. Después almorzamos un sancocho (una sopa con verduras-yuca, mazorca y banana, que se acompaña con pollo y arroz) que prepararon en la finca. Delicioso. En la tarde aprovechamos la pileta. El lunes nos fuimos temprano a otro pueblo a acampar (Salento y Valle de Cocora) y volvimos el martes a la tardecita. Finalmente visitamos el Parque del Café, un parque de diversiones donde tienen una sección que muestran las distintas variedades de café y el proceso desde la cosecha al tostado. A pesar de la lluvia, anduvimos por varios juegos y disfrutamos un show de música y danzas típicas de las distintas provincias de la zona cafetera. Después de un buen descanso, y dado que las lluvias empezaron a parar un poco, nos vamos para la capital, Bogotá.

We had been warned that Colombian roads have many tolls and its true. Tolls appear to be spaced far enough to give you just enough time to put your wallet away after paying one. At about US$ 4 each it adds up quickly. Gas runs at about US$5.50 a gallon and prices for most things are about the same as in the US, so Colombia is the most expensive country we’ve been to so far. But thats where MELT stops complaining because we are having a terrific time here. We had also been told people are welcoming and warm and also found it to be true. It makes a huge difference on how one enjoys being here.
The drive from Cali to the Zona Cafetera was only about two and a half hours and mostly on a two lane highway, a welcome change from single lane mountain roads with hurried drivers overtaking in impossible places. During the drive L called a few of the countless fincas (farms) offering accommodations and we settled on Finca Combia (the pictures on the website looked good and the price was right – all these fincas are quite pricey!). The owner called three times during the drive to make sure we wouldn’t get lost and this anticipated how well we would be taken care for during our stay. Teresita and her family and staff were constantly making sure we were happy but more importantly treated us as family. E’s mention of his interest in local/tropical fruits resulted in a basket full of them (zapote, guanábana, maracuya, granadilla, tree tomato and many more) and T was often prepared special meals in the outdoor kitchen. The Finca is on the side of a hill with a spectacular view (best enjoyed from the pool) of the coffee and banana plantations. We ended up staying five nights at Combia. Thanks Teresita, Esperanza, Marilu, John, and everyone who works there.
From the finca we visited several of the big attractions. Panaca is a farm-themed park with animal shows (some not related to animal shows at all but oddly to rivalries between men and women) that was a lot of fun for the kids but way too commercial (even the animals on the shows were for sale). We spent the entire day walking and feeding the different animals. The highlight was when T refused to drink the cow milk he had just milked and M drank it all at once. E sneaked out from the horse show to go on the zip lines. The Parque Nacional del Café is a theme park and not so much about coffee, although we did learn the basics of how coffee is processed. Most of the time was spent on the bumper cars, waterslide, carrousel, Ferris wheel, water bumper boats and other fine attractions. We also visited the botanical gardens and mariposario of Quindío, where we got to see many of the region’s plants and animals (mostly birds) during a one-hour, informative site tour. The mariposario is not as well taken care for as Cali’s and at the time there were few butterflies. M and T’s favorite part was the hedge maze and the view of the butterfly-shaped mariposario from the top of a 110-step mirador.
We had a great time in the Zona Cafetera and there was more to visit but it was time to move on.

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One response to “Al café, café

  1. como estan?
    looks like an amazing trip so far! you will be welcome at our overlander guesthouse in Panama City when you arrive here!

    http://www.panamapassage.com

    have fun and be safe on the road!

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