Thursday, June 16, 2011

Una vuelta de la zona cafetera/ In the Café Zone of Colombia (May 23 - 28, 2011)

 From Salento, we planned a weeklong circuit of the Coffee Zone (with some special guests), first passing back through Pereira...

back in Pereira, we had a feast at Ancizar´s house.
Ancizar plays in a cumbia music troupe in Pereira, and he invited us along for a performance in the streets of Pereira.  Cumbia is folk music from the Atlantic coast of Colombia, dating back to the war for independence in the 1820´s.  It was revolutionary in its form and content, always played in the streets, and features tambor drums and large gaita flutes.
to see a video of the music and dance performed above, go to:

this is the leader of the cumbia group.  He invited us back to his house and showed us many of his instruments, including this one, which is the jaw of a horse and is used to play percussion by rasping the teeth with a stick and banging the mandible with your fist!

Two old friends of Jeff's (from university days) came to Pereira to meet up with us and cycle for the week.  Above: Brian Reale, living in Bogotá at the time, and ready for some cycling adventures.  Below: Wil Weldon (a.ka. Growler, Jeff's thru-hiking partner on the Appalachian Trail in 2001), who has come to shoot some video journalism stories on long-distance cycling and on Colombia...

gorgeous flycatcher seen leaving Barrio Cuba
these cows played mindgames on Jason while he was packing his gear at this campsite

Growler getting greasy while working on his bike
bamboo stands, and Andean motmot within...

...lunch in Alcalá...

Brian cruising through Alcalá

looking down on Montenegro

our campsite in cattle pastures

dawn vocalist

this finca was adjacent to the above campsite, and the woman pictured (seen in a coffee plantation) invited us to breakfast in the morning

Growler exiting the cow pastures on gorgeous jeep track

getting onto good dirt roads

Jason and Craig having a good time on this descent (image courtesy Wil Weldon)

this bridge was to be the site of some excitement...

... as first Growler... and then Jeff and Brian leaped into the rushing river off the bridge...
(image by Wil Weldon)

...big climbs in these hills...
(photo: Craig Caparatta)

serious cross-training at the top of a long climb (photo by Craig Caparatta)

and plenty of antics

local finca

this road featured horses as main transport

...incredible scenery to ride through...

charismatic cow

(image below: Wil Weldon)
... after a great descent, Growler chose this spot to do an interview...

clearly enjoying ourselves

Brian taking in the scene

at this campsite we woke up in thick fog

... the insane riding continues...

Growler passing through Barcelona (Colombia, that is)

approaching Armenia...
bizarre urban scene after a crazy bush ride

what better place to set up shop and start busking!  Brian joins us on percussion, as Sonja is resting near Salento for the week. (images courtesy Wil Weldon)

the crowd really got into this long jam of Deep Ellum Blues

leaving Armenia, we head out on a series of more dirt roads, heading to a finca where we've been invited to spend the night, and where Sonja is waiting for us.  What better way to end a week in the Zona Cafetera than by visiting a local coffee finca...

... the finca, Sachamama, located between Armenia and Salento...

having breakfast at Sachamama with Pedro and his family (Pedro sells organic coffee in Salento, and Craig first tried his coffee 5 years ago on a previous trip.  Craig claims it is some of the best in the world)

Jeff trying it and later switching to agua panela (warm water with unprocessed cane sugar; along with coffee, Colombia´s national beverage)

Beautiful Woodpecker (that is its real name) seen in the yard at Sachamama
Pedro and family

orchid seen on forest walk

wax palm, national tree of Colombia

Pedro giving us a natural and local history tour of the forest around the finca.  Before his family was there, it was used for cow grazing.  Before that, it was a coffee plantation.  When the cows were removed, dormant coffee beans in the soil sprouted and became healthy coffee trees, which Pedro now harvests to sell.  His coffee is not only organic, but it is local and wild-harvested, and roasted and packaged on site.

Craig's fantasy: bike, organic coffee beans, guitar

Pedro explains to Brian the workings of the finca and his philosophy in general (which is about promotion of forest conservation and restoration, and about providing quality coffee product with no damaging ecological effects). 

roasting the beans
the whole family is involved in the operation (photo Craig Caparatta)

Brian stirring and cooling the just-roasted beans

Wil tasting the final product

ready for sale

From Sachamama, Brian headed back to Pereira and Bogotá.  The rest of us, with Sonja now, headed up to Salento...

... passing through this gorgeous valley...

... on a great rough road...

Jeff gunning it through the mud (photo Craig Caparatta)
what?  you never saw singletracking with a fullsize Spanish guitar before? 

... delightful riding...
(photo: Craig Caparatta)

at the end of a steep climb back to Salento
(below photo: Craig Caparatta)
...we celebrated our great week of riding and adventures with a hot vegetarian bowl of beans in Salento...

... and watched Barça win the Champions League final against Manchester United.


cass said...

sweet singletrack.

Doug Steury said...

Its great how you take your do you carry them without breaking them?