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Just to show that Calle Real is still real and not just a conglomeration of smart shops peddling handicrafts and upscale coffee, there are two real bars that cater to Salento's version of the blue collar worker: the farmer. We walked by these places every day and no matter what time it was, there was always a group of men sitting at a table, in various stages of being in a stupor. The man in a stupor would often change from one hour to next as if one would revive himself in time for another to get really “relaxed” and nod off, head resting on the table once reserved for cards. By and large, these places are for men, and men alone but after shunning places like (though not quite like) these in El Cocuy, I really wanted to venture in. My wife, being a great sport, agreed and one evening we found no groups of men nodding off, just a few shooting billiards so it wasn't so intimidating. We grabbed a table next to the door and I went up to the bar to order a couple beers, glad that the bartender had offered us small glasses rather than make us drink from the bottle.
Bar Quindio was much like a western cowboy bar in the western US, even the music would have fit in if only in Spanish. No one paid us much notice despite Doreen being not only the prettiest girl in town but also the only girl in the bar. Ok, it probably helped that she was dressed like a backpacker and as such may as well as been in disguise as a boy since it's not likely the locals ever see their women-folk not in a dress unless of course they are undressed. The beer was Pilsen and oddly enough after avoiding it due to a poor reputation, it turned out as good as most of the rest of the Colombian swill we'd been swilling the previous six weeks. Two beers were 3600 COP ($1.80). No need for a second. I'd had my taste and D had done her duty. Our room was calling and we answered it promptly.
Written Dec 12, 2010
Address: Calle Real 4-01
Luggage and bags: Though this is still primarily a Colombia getaway, it has all the makings of a gringo backpacker paradise. It also has some real backpacking possibilities in the vicinity so bringing that big bag might not be all show and tell.
Clothing/Shoes/Weather Gear: Hiking boots are a must for Valle de Cocora and comfy shoes for walking around town will come in handy too. A sweater is a good idea as it gets cool in the evenings and rain gear is likely to come in handy in this area noted for cloud forests full of hummingbirds.
Photo Equipment: A wide angle is great for bringing objects into your foreground, making photos more interesting. A zoom is great for taking photos of barnyard animals, cats, and beans for that matter.
Miscellaneous: Thanks to D for being a great romantic partner in this very romantic town.
Written Dec 12, 2010
Termales de Santa Rosa de Cabal is a charming and unspoiled place in the department of Risaralda where you can enjoy medicinal hot springs surrounded by ecological paths and 170m waterfall. They were not really on my way. But since I was somehow in the area I tried to include this thermal springs in my itinerary.
During the week there are three buses a day from Salento to Pereira. They live from the main plaza. I took a morning bus and the ticket was 4.700 COP (December 2008). There are buses departing Pereira every ten minutes or so to Santa Rosa de Cabal. The journey takes about 20 minutes and the cost was 1.500 COP (December 2008). Once in the town of Santa Rosa de Cablal there are chivas that take you to Termales (8 km). They go three three times a day, the trip is mostly up, and it takes almost an hour. The first chiva only left in an hour. If I wanted to catch the last bus from Pereira to Salento I would have to leave Termales to Santa Rosa de Cabal almost immediately. I thought it was not worth a journey and decided I better leave it for my next visit of Colombia and then perhaps stay overnight.
So my day trip to Termales changed to short visits of Santa Rosa de Cabal and Pereira, the capital of the department. Santa Rosa de Cabal is a pleasant small town with some colonial architecture and an attractive Plaza de Bolívar overlooked by the main church Iglesia las Victorias.
Updated Apr 14, 2009