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Colombia, explosives, and motorcycling indoors

Arriving at the small town of Salento, 4 hours north of Cali, the atmosphere shifts from city and graffiti, to mountains and meditation. This colonial jewel in the Cocora valley is made of mothers mingling with grandmas, and gentlemen teaching children technicalities of nature. The nights are fresh and friendly, and 3 am walks awaken the wild child in your chest, when curiosity can freely rest upon your pupils, and paths of all sizes segway into familiar silent streets. The mornings are made of mist and it always rains at noon but sunsets are warm and dry and the crisp coffee beans brewed impregnate the mixing moods. I began to slow down and enjoy the musical monotony, until a few locals decided to show me how to play tejo. This typical game consists of throwing heavy metal discs at small triangles filled with gun powder, which are resting on beds of clay, and explode loudly causing big sparks when hit. Imagine flinstones bowling, while drinking agua ardiente and chain smoking tabaco. The safety measures here are inexistent, and you literally need to watch out for the fire, sparks, and giant metal discs flying through the air from all directions in this bar filled with drunk people. To top it off, motorcycles pull into the middle of the bar right through the main door, and in between the tables, to amicably deliver more see-through liquids to the thirsty players. This game has a point system that basically goes on until the booze runs out, or until a better party comes along. To keep on course with the extreme serenity of Salento, we decided to wake up at 7 am to trek the Cocora valley. This 7 hour hike begins by jeep. These vehicles take you from the main plaza to the base of the valley in a half hour, for about 3$. Do you know what a clown's jeep is? Fitting 13 people into a four-wheeler! I got to stand on the flatten back door, holding on to the roof, ducking my head for the palm trees on the way, and loving the spectrum of greens and rivers and cows through the snake like roads. The trek is beautiful and surreal, switching from cloud forests to huge open pastures and eternally thin long palm trees tickling the sky. Close to 3,000 mts, hummingbirds of all sizes and colors flutter around your head and show off their technicolored pirouettes, and small reservations host hot chocolate and cheese bars up on the paramos overlooking the jurassic park. Rain tends to be torrential in these places, which makes for fun mud slides and fluorescent green cascades. Getting a spot inside the jeep on the way back is crucial! As your frozen toes will appreciate it very much. When we got back down at around 3pm, we all headed to drink panela water (hot brown sugar infusion) and warm maduros with cheese, which were revitalizing. Away from the mountains the mystery still marks the nights, as salento's melody is composed of many kind moments, all shared with friends, all full of synergy.


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Profile photo of Nanu Berks

Originally from Argentina, currently based in Austin, Tx, always in movement. Nanu started hitch-hiking and backpacking the world solo, linking with places and people, while living and learning. “This creative road to loving and lingering in the micro-moments is what brightens in us compassion and teaching, so we can echo in the eyes of new dreamers, and become once again tiny particles of dust in the chain of mother earth. To me nothing in this universe compares to traveling, physically, mentally, and spiritually, and so through my words, I aim to pass on the electrical current of trust, adventure, unknowness, and momentum, so we can all benefit at least a bit, from savoring a drop of cultural mist. I must love to live, and learn to proceed, imagine to feel, find to unwind, dive deep to creep, and peek at the roots. I must, and so I do, and now I write, to share with you.”



2 thoughts on “Colombia, explosives, and motorcycling indoors

  1. Profile photo of Marcell ClaassenMarcell Claassen

    Excellent post. This pretty much explains how I feel about Colombia – totally fell in love with it and it became my adopted country…I also fell in love there and now have a beautiful Colombian girlfriend.

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