For our last day in the Eje Cafetero, Seth and I had big plans; we were going horseback riding! Since we had opted to walk to the Reserva Natural Sacha Mama on our second day and through the Valle de Cocora on our fourth, we had severely limited our destination options. I then remembered a poster I had spotted upon checking into La Serrana, so I decided to give it another look. It was an advertisement for a tour to the Cascada Santa Rita courtesy of Omar Hernández and his finest caballos.
By ten o’clock, Seth and I were saddled up and on our way. Señor Hernández led us first through Salento, then downhill on a windy road, over a river and through a forest, eventually to the waterfall. He gave us time to climb down, swim around, and snap some photos. Although I was quite terrified of my horse for the first leg of our three-hour jaunt, I became much more comfortable and confident for the second. I even led the pack for a while, initiating trots here and there. My horse Estrella was very patient, if a little shy, and not once did she eject me from her back or send me rolling down a muddy slope!
Seth and I asked to end our tour in Salento so that we could grab some lunch. We stopped at Brunch for one last American food fix. I ordered a BLTA with actual crunchy bacon (!), while Seth devoured a plate of hot wings. For dessert we topped off with a chocolate and peanut butter brownie doused with hot fudge. I had heard several rave reviews about this brownie, and after eating dry, stale imposter after dry, stale imposter in Bogotá, I was not the least bit disappointed. Just as we were leaving the restaurant, we met a young couple from Wyoming who sat at the next table. Trey and Aubrey were in Salento for the week, but like us Trey was preparing to return to Bogotá for work. We exchanged contact information and promised to meet for a beer sometime.
We returned to La Serrana and lounged in the hammocks until dinner. Since many of the travelers that we had met were also leaving town the next day, Seth and I decided to enjoy one last supper with everyone at the hostel.
Dinner consisted of beef kebabs with red bell pepper; cucumber, tomato, and onion; hummus; tzatziki; and many glasses of Chilean wine. Seth and I met two girls from the south of Norway, Miriam and Hilda, who were vacationing in Colombia for a couple of weeks, but I spent most of the meal talking to a girl from Scotland named Emily, who had just moved to the States but was vacationing in Colombia for a month. When I told Emily that I had visited Scotland as a kid, her ears instantly perked. “Where did you go? Did you like it?” and then, cautiously, “…How was the weather?” I elaborated that I had spent most of my time in St. Andrews and a little town somewhere outside of Aberdeen called Oldmeldrum to visit family friends. Well, it turned out that she used to work in Oldmeldrum. While I could not for the life of me recall said friends’ surnames, I gave Emily all of the information I had. She was now living in Mobile, Alabama with her Houstonian boyfriend, so we mused about possibly running into one another again in the future.
Throughout the evening Seth and I also talked with Julian and Stephen, the usuals, and with Trey and Aubrey. The wine and conversation lasted until about midnight, and afterwards everyone said their goodbyes and went to bed.
My time in Salento was definitely one of my more tranquil travel experiences. I did a lot of fun things, met a lot of good people, and got a lot of deep sleep. As much as I would love to return, I have many other Colombian sites that I must get to know. I might not ever visit Salento again, but I will always have memories.
To see more pictures from Salento and the Eje Cafetero, click here:
[Brunch: Calle 6 # 3-25, Salento-Colombia]