I don’t mind an early start but the fifth consecutive pre-7am departure was starting to feel like hard work. Especially for someone who in the real world has never had to get up for work at that sort of hour. It took half an hour to negotiate the truck around the extremely tight turning out of the campsite entrance. Fair play to Emma though as eighteen backstreet drivers chiming in would have done my head in!
The early start was worth it when the scenery through where we’d be trekking at the Valle de Coroca came into view. We started off by walking through some jungle, including three of those Indiana Jones-style bridges to negotiate. It was one person at a time over the bridges, which where a bit wobbly to put it mildly. I’ve seen so many films where one of the planks breaks, leaving someone dangling above a river, that I was almost waiting for that to happen. It didn’t. When we reached the top of the hill, unfortunately a mist had descended over the valley meaning that the view wasn’t the best. While it has lovely scenery, the Coroca Valley’s unique selling point, as they say in the marketing industry, is the Quindio Wax palm trees. These specimens are purportedly the tallest palm trees in the world and are the national tree of Colombia. What were initially silhouettes of palm trees became more clear as we descended into the valley. The guide pointed out the tallest palm tree in what he claimed to be the world (although maybe it was Colombia). He seemed slightly unsure which one it was while walking through a field full of 50 metre-plus palm trees, before eventually deciding upon the nice tall one that he was standing next to. We then had to retreat back up the slope in order to obtain the obligatory photograph.
We then stopped off at Salento, the town in which we camped outside last night. Salento’s a lovely colonial town containing lots of brightly painted buildings, numerous craft shops and a scenic square. It was a pity that it started to rain shortly after we arrived. The rain continued to get heavier and by the time we arrived at tonight and tomorrow’s campsite the place was waterlogged. Thankfully the staff allowed us to sleep on an indoor floor, which with a mat and sleeping bag was considerably more desirable than being out in a tent.
The campsite provided an excellent BBQ. Eventually it even stopped raining and there was even some live entertainment with a band performing some Colombian classics, although there was no sign of any Shakira tunes. Everyone but about four people were dancing. Despite the singer frequently labelling us non-dancers as party poopers, there was no way that I would pander to a bit of bullying to dance. At one point during the evening two police officers turned up. They seemed to know the campsite staff so they probably weren’t on official business. One of the policemen even joined in with the dancing, while the other officer filmed his colleague on his phone. All this seemed a bit bizarre to me!