Coffee with Pablo Escobar
Armenia. No, not that country in Asia, but small city in central part of Colombia. That should be my base to make trips to find river source of coffee which is going in spread stream to whole parts of world. I reached that place at night and since first views of local guys, who watched at me as for moving ATM, I knew that I need to leave it as soon as possible. I walk 10km, counted buy strange guys who offered me whole kinds of drugs and maybe hit of knife for free, till I found good place to camp. Next day I walked few kilometers more and finally I was surrounded by fincas, small camps, which showed only tops of roofs over bushes of coffee. I reached one which local people recommended me before. I had plan to buy ticket as normal gringo and see whole process of production. But high prize of ticket, 25000 pesos, gave me better idea. Maybe I can hire for one day to work to see other side of coffee bean?
I was frighten a little bit but finally I talked with watchman on gate. I said where I from (after awkward scratching of my speakers, I knew that his knowledge of geography is ending on another village), what I’m doing here and where I’m heading. Impressed guy gave me big cup of black gold. “Yeah, I’m here because of coffee”. I went with Mr Watchman to Ridrigo, who was main manager during that day. When I said once again who I’m and what I want to do here he gave me another cup of coffee. Well, true is that I needed to lye a lot about my love to coffee, that coffee is huge part of my life, and like Obelix I felt into barrel with coffee when I was young etc etc. He twisted head, but I don’t know if he believe me or not. Finally he called Salvador from production part, and he told him to show me whole production process and to give me something to do. I was inside! I couldn’t believe!
Santiago show me around place and explain everything in the same time pour coffee. My hands started to shake but I don’t know that because of adrenaline or caffeine. Production process from planting, through harvesting, drying and burning up and sorting is really impressive. And once again, like with bananas in Brazil or cacao in Peru, best seeds are going to Europe. At place are leaving a little bit disadvantages brothers from same bush. What I’d done there? I tear off bushes (on my eyes I could see some kind of bugs which is really hard to destroy because they can’t use here pesticides. Yeah, Santiago told me that and in the same time he prepared some really toxic substance to kill bugs), then I putted some bags with seeds into machine to burning them up (one day Walter putted so unfortunately one bag that machine took her sleeve together with hand. That was special part of seeds dedicated for contest so they didn’t stopped production process. Coffee won first place. But they don’t know if that was manner of coffee or that Walter participate to production). Finally I sorted coffee on giant sieve.
But coffee is not only burned black seeds of coffee, but whole culture. With their won clothes, strange dances, traditional food (beans, arepa, rice), and characteristic jeeps which American army left here, and locals took to transport coffee to place where other purchase them. But most important is that coffee means people. People who make coffee since generation, for who it;s whole life. That country located on a little waved permanently green hills, full of colonial architecture, flowers and strange fruits, its incredible. After meeting of that place coffee will never taste the same.
What can I write more – ADVENTURE OF LIFE! I already see from inside banana plantation in Brazil, fields and plantation of terere in Paraguay, cacao in Peru and now coffee in Colombia. To be fully happy I miss only plantation of cocaine.
“Salento! You need to go to Salento!” told me for good bye Mr Watchman. Because it’s not good to antagonize to Mr Watchamn I rolled in two cars to small village in the middle of canyons. Three colorful streets flooded with waves of tourists. But those waves are not disturbing, but are making that this place have really difficult to catch flavor, atmosphere. It’s really nice place and I can’t say why! “What are You looking for?” ask me one man in bakery. “Happiness” I answer as usually for that question, and I rolled my view on line of breads. “So You found it. You’re in Salento”.
Also I think that whole roads leads to that place. On one of the streets I met the same Irish guy with who I drank in Argentinian Patagonia 6 or 7 months ago. On other street bug me question: “Are You from Poland?”. Justyna is also from Poland, and she came few days after me to Michaela, same CS host in Ecuador where I spend few days. Michaela has told Justyna about me, but she didn’t told her about my road. And she also told me that she received some another person from Poland. And look at that! We meet accidently on street of that magic place! We went together on some party with music and fires, and near one fireplace I saw Argentinian couple which I met 4 months ago in capital of Peru. What a coincidence! But that was really cool to see that faces once again!
With Justyna we made together trek under highest trees in Colombia. Probably besides coffee plantation, forest with that trees is attract tourists from whole over the world. And I need to say that they looks really magic! They looks like giant pin with heads in shapes of palm leaves. Pins which are doing acupuncture for mountains. It’s beautiful place but to come here just to see that tress is a little bit strange…
Well, that’s how 3 days passed by. 3 nights during which I camped in front of cemetery fulfilled with meeting with really interesting peoples. I took from here stone!
In 3 cars I moved to Medellin. I went on suburbs to find some place to camp. I found on map some small forest so I went there, and in very high bushes I planted my tent. But came so huge rain that once again inside I had lake. Around 3 am I gave up, and went down to find some roof to secure. I found one, and I didn’t manner that is directly in front of doors of some home, and I decided to camp there. But unfortunately some dog smelled me and woke up whole neighborhood. And especially one guy who shouted on my even much louder than dog. So I took once again my tent and two blocks further I found another door. Thankfully on other side wasn’t any dog, but in front of them after few minutes was my tent. At morning I decided to wake up as soon as possible, but when I went out I was welcomed with two faces sticked to window. When I took my stuff and I wanted to explain why I camped here without theirs permission, they didn’t were angry but they invited me for something hot to eat. I was so wet and cold that I couldn’t say no for that proposition! After that when I just waked on street one fruit seller invited me for free bananas. I looked so bad or that was real backpackers heaven 🙂
Level expert. He’s juggling with bludgeons, on nose have garden umbrella and on top twisting ball 🙂
My beautiful hosts from other side of door 🙂
In city I didn’t found any CS host so I found cheapest hostel, and after I put there my things I started to explore city. And that probably most organized city in Colombia make really good first impression. Only place in Colombia with metro, hanged train system, with good system of buses and even trolley buses. We can add to that relative harmony, order and interesting architecture. museums with interesting exhibitions, huge parks and incredible story. Because Medellin was like a base for one from most reach man in history – Pablo Escobar. Biggest producer and smuggler of cocaine in history. Owner of so incredible amount of cash, that he proposed to pay whole foreign debts of Colombia. For some time senator with aspirations to be a president. Philanthropist who build whole areas with flats, and who gave that flats for people for free. Terrorist and murderer who killed thousands of people who were uncomfortable for him. It’s really strange to walk in city, where 20 years ago on every corner You could find car bombs and in the clouds was best US equipment dedicated to catch Escobar.
During my visit there played national football team. Absolutely everywhere were speakers and people on streets could hear what’s happening in stadium. When situation was really hot everybody dropped his tasks and run to watch TV. For few seconds whole city was like freeze 😀
Even after his dead, Pablo have huge influence of modern pop culture. There is a lot of books, movies or even TV series about his life. Since I crossed border I asked many times about Pablo. People agree that he was huge public enemy number one. I could feel that they are a little bit mesmerized of him, but from other side they are a little bit shamed by that topic, and they want to forget it. It’s really difficult when Pablo is looking for us from many t-shirts, posters and ad of “narcotrips”. During special trips there is possibility to meet places connected with Pablo. Place where he was born, where he murdered people, and finally where police killed him and he is buried. Guids have he knowledge about him, because they remember good that cocaine times. But I read a lot about Pablo, so I didn’t wanted to spend 30 dollars for trip, and I just went to see grave of Pablo. Special trail is the best proof that a lot of tourist are coming here every day. That agree some old guys who are selling water near grave. They also agree that grave is always kempt and nobody can besmirch, because is under permanently observation. Pablo had a lot of friends who didn’t forget him even after dead. And I didn’t wanted to meet that friends…
Pablo Escobar, Pope and Adidas. Modern Colombian Holy Trinity
Since some time I felt sight on me of other person. Pope. From thousands of posters he shouted about dates and places where he gonna come. Unfortunately always I should be in the same places at the same dates. Unfortunately because visit of Pope always is connected with a lot of people and communication problems. So I wanted to as fra as possible from Papa mobile. When he came to Medellin, I went with other polish girl Kamila who I met in Hostel, to Guatape, withc is something around 2 hours of road from Medellin. Night we spend under huge city tent on main square. At morning when we went out we were greeted by small city located near huge, ladled lake. Almost every home have there zocales, small/HUGE bas-reliefs under windows with correspondence what is going inside. If there was a bar, on zocale we could see bartender and clients who are waiting for theirs turn. In front of bus terminal was a lot of small buses. Really cool, colorful idea. Old idea because inhabitants prepare that things since 1920! Village is so small that is possible to watch everything during 2 hours. So we decided to reach mountain of thousands stairs.
I don’t have idea how that huge rock came here (if came here with glacier of some giant) but entrance prize have strong connection with altitude of that place. 18000pesos?! That was really ti high for me, but Kamila helped me a little bit with some amount of cash, and we could reach together 625 stairs from the top. But view from top was worth of that sweat on stairs…
To Medellin we are going in huge marihuana cloud inside of funny van. Later, when we waited for some car, we met couple who paid for us for bus, because “You will never find here any car”. After half hour we needed to say goodbye with Kamila, because she wanted to go south to Ecuador, and I need to t reach coast line in north. I started to walk to reach gated on highway. Medellin even in center when dark came was really strange, and heavy marihuana’s clouds on the sky was like best proof that dead of Pablo wasn’t end of narco business. On my road I met strange guys who asked me about cash and hour, to see what kind of cellular I have. Thankfully I slink away from them, and I prayed to find anyone who can take me from here quickly. After few minutes taxi driver took me some kilometers, but neighborhood was still strange, and now I was really scared. Finally I gave up, and another 15 km outside of the city I made in bus. There I found some good place inside bushes and I waited for another day. Another day which was beginning of my trip to one of most beautiful cities in South America, trip when two guys wanted to robbed me with machete and one car workshop where I hurt really deeply my leg. But that in another post 🙂
“Nobody gonna take You from here. But don’t worry, we gonna do something with that”
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