I’ve officially been accepted to Indiana University’s PhD program in Instructional Technology! Come August, I’ll be a Hoosier! (Good think I look great in Red) So, if you need me for the next 4 years, you now know where to find me. Also, I guess I’ll be changing the name of the blog to something like… Karlin in Kollege.
There were two main reasons I wanted to check out the coffee region. First, and most obvious, for the coffee (surprise!). The region is home to some of the best coffee in the world and some of the most scenic, mountainous views of the Colombian mainland. The second reason for my visit arose at the beginning of this year when several friends sent me this post: Mystery Post. I’ll give you a second to read that and let it sink in…
Colombia’s coffee region is also known as the coffee triangle, as the coffee growing centers around the 3 main cities of Armenia, Manizales, and Pereira, where my journey began. Unfortunately, in the actual city of Pereira, there’s not much coffee to check out. There are good restaurants and a decent night life, but I was eager to get out into the country and the mountains and the coffee plantations. I spent my first night in Pareira and then caught a bus early the next morning to Armenia.
After a day at the park, and having had my fill of roller coasters, amusement parks, and the Colombian alternative to the corndog (i.e. chuzo) I left Armenia and headed on to my next stop, Salento. Nestled in the mountains, overlooking the Quindio river valley, Salento has a population of just over 7,000. In short, it was the perfect escape from the hustle, bustle, and heat of Barranquilla.
The first highlight of my stay in Salento was visiting the nearby Cocora Valley, which is home to the absolutely GIANT wax palm trees that cover the region (they also happen to be Colombia’s national tree and can grow to over 50 meters, or… umm… 3 miles? That conversion might be off). I spent around 6 hours hiking through the valley, visiting hummingbird reserves, and climbing to the peak of a nearby mountain that overlooked the valley.
Not only do they cultivate thousands of coffee plants, but they also have quite the permaculture setup. They’ve got banana plants mixed in to provide shade for the coffee plants, avocado trees help absorb excess moisture, and yucca plants help keep the dirt in place and prevent minor landslides from covering up the younger coffee plants. Plus, every month they inspect every single coffee plant for disease and insects by hand, so they don’t have to use any pesticides.
Aside from those highlights, the rest of my time in Salento was spent hiking in the mountains, drinking amazing coffee from Café Jesus Martin, reading in rainstorms, and, in general, trying not to think about lesson plans. It was the perfect break and I’m thankful I got to explore the Colombian mainland a little more!
[ You can see all the pictures here. ]
Finally, if you’re interested in an excellent read about living abroad, cultural expectations, and how neuroscience fits into it all, I highly recommend checking out this post from my colleague Kevin.
That's all for this time around, thanks for reading and see everyone back in Kansas soon!