Flashback to December

The hills of Salento are covered by a lush blanket of the most perfect green imaginable. The ridges and contours of the mountains look as if they have been pinched by the hand of a giant. A river winds through the valley all the way up to Valle de Cocora.

The faint gurggle of water plays like quiet background music at the Finca. The serenity of the campo is interupted only by the retarded crow of a rooster and the distant shrill of a pair of hawks. Our first morning brought a renewed sense of calm to us all, the green of that place melts away all anxiety.
We spent the afternoon strolling through town, enchanted by the brightly painted buildings and little shops full of beautiful trinkets. It was a perfect Christmas town, tastefully decorated with an old western flare. Colombian families flocked to the streets to eat and listen to music while the little ones chased eachother through the crowds. Old men in cowboy hats filled the parlors and pool halls where there seemed to be an unspoken rule that women were not allowed.
The chill of the air was a welcomed Christmas kiss on the cheek. It is only right to be wrapped up in a warm scarf during this time of year. We spent Christmas Eve enjoying ok food and lots of wine with amazing friends in the garden of a restaurant complete with bonfire and rock music...? Not your typical holiday ambience but alas we are in Colombia. After dinner we headed for a game of pool, breaking the boys club golden rule, then Selcuk and I finished the night off with some dancing and shots with the locals. Interesting making the muddy trek back to the finca in the intoxicated darkness.
    Ehren woke us Christmas morning with homemade banana bread in bed. Once the feet hit the floor, the bread was being french toasted in the pan and all was heavenly and delicous. You should be so lucky as to taste this delightful creation one day.. We enjoyed a lazy afternoon then strolled into town for last minute dinner ingredients. It was wonderful to call home and hear about family festivities, being our first year away for the holidays. Chirstmas dinner was fantastic, although untraditional, as we shared our beautifully decorated table with friends from Turkey to the Netherlands.     

Valle de Cocora was like walking through a Dr. Seuss book. The plam trees are impossibly tall and straight (reaching over 100ft). These toothpick palms stretch and dot over the terraced green hills backing up to thick lines of pine trees. Perfectly spotted milk cows lay and chew grass against this unlikely background. If one must be a cow, this is where you want to live. 

The air is cool, the ground is muddy and life is so much better in Wellington boots. The majority of the trail follows the river and we cross severl sketchy logs and a questionably safe suspension bridge with many missing planks. David, Ehren and I spent the night at a little hospedaje buzzing with hummingbirds. The older folks running the place were delightful and allowed us to cook dinner in their kitchen and served us a hot bowl of soup to warm us after our hike. A group of 8 people arrived from Medellin, their professions ranging from restaurant owner to scientist to university professor. We shared a spliff and great conversation. Every interaction I have had with Colombians has been so genuine. One of the first things they always ask is what I think about Colombia and how I have been treated here. There are truly concerned with my opinion of their country and want to be sure I am having a positive experience. My answer is always ¨Yes, I love Colombia, we are having an incredible time, the people are just as beautiful as the landscape, and of course I will be coming back...¨

    Now jump from total tranquility to absolute chaos. Cali was nothing but hospitable to us and full of lots of laughing, dancing and drinking. The energy there is the very soul of Colombia- this music is their blood and the dance is their life force. The women in Cali are the most beautiful that we have seen- big eyes, big lips, big hips.
The people look at us like we are from another planet, they seem utterly shocked by the color of my hair. The first night David made it on the jumbotron for SalsaCaliTv and I was later interviewed by a news station asking questions about fashion here compared to the states... random.

We had a big last night with Selcuk. It was so strange to say goodbye to him, he has been such a big part of our trip. It simply didn´t seem right that we wouldn´t be meeting him in Ecuador. But we will see eachother again one day.. in Turkey...in Australia...in Argentina...Colorado and we will pick up right where we left off...with a dance party.
So thankful for great friends in a foreign land.

Thankful for crazy Colombians and new dance moves. Muchas Gracias Cali.