The two months of Spanish classes in Medellín are over.
It was fun with Jessica, my Venezuelan teacher.
Although the learning success is manageable, I at least have a language base that I can build on during my trip through South America over the next few months.
Now I'm drawn to the coffee region of Colombia, where I was briefly in the pretty town of Jardín a few weeks ago.
Next, I want to get to know the area around Salento, which is one of the most popular in Colombia.
Although only 280 kilometers from Medellín, the bus ride to Salento takes almost nine hours.
The reason: between Medellín and Pereira, the largest city within the Coffee Triangle, the main artery in the mountains is being rehabilitated over a kilometer-long section.
Both sides have to share a traffic lane.
So while the traffic flows in one direction, it pauses on the other side for up to two hours at a time.
Many residents see the daily mega congestion as an opportunity to earn income.
They sell ice cream, cool drinks, sweets and snacks on motorbikes and at mobile stalls.
With the long wait, it is difficult not to access.
Salento is a hotspot for vacationers
I am impressed by the serenity of the Colombians.
Although nobody knows when the journey will continue, there is no cursing or whining.
When the sheet metal avalanche suddenly sets in motion, I am sitting in a street restaurant and sipping my cane sugar and lime soda.
Luckily I didn't order lunch like many others here.
Despite the hustle and bustle when paying, everyone manages to get on the bus on time.
I can't blame the bus driver for the fact that he is now driving unleashed and trying to make up for time.
During the risky overtaking maneuvers, trust in the image of Mary with the baby Jesus above the driver's seat is probably less of a help than in the bus driver's racing skills.
At least his pilot-like outfit inspires confidence.
The giant palm trees in the Cocora Valley are a popular selfie backdrop for tourists
Source: Martin Lewicki.
After changing in Pereira, I'm the only passenger on the bus to Salento at night.
The next day, disillusionment quickly spreads: Salento is a tourist hotspot.
The towns of Jardín and Santa Fe de Antioquia, which I visited in the weeks before, are much more charming.
But most of the visitors don't come for the old town: They leave Salento quickly - they are drawn to the surrounding area with its many coffee plantations and the gigantic mountain palms.
On the recommendation of a friend, I go to a coffee plantation that operates according to organic guidelines.
Colombia exports the best coffee
From the outside, the coffee farmer's house makes little impression.
When he sees me with a friend in front of the entrance, he is surprised by the unannounced visit.
He spontaneously leads us through the small eco-system and gives us an insight into his work.
For him, coffee is the most valuable commodity - right after oil and gold.
“However, the best coffee in Colombia is exported,” explains the coffee farmer.
In Colombia you usually get the second choice.
And often, unfortunately, only instant coffee, as I keep discovering - but not on this farm.
Ripe coffee cherries turn red
Source: Martin Lewicki.
No artificial pest control is used here;
It is sprayed with a foul-smelling but natural lye made from fermented garlic and onions.
A particularly aggressive pest that reacts to the red of the coffee beans is lured into a trap: a small, bright red bottle contains pure alcohol.
When the pest sips it, it's the end of it.
You also make the fertilizer yourself: from coffee grounds, chicken droppings and other organic waste.
Up to 45 meters high palm trees in the Cocora Valley
I pick a few ripe beans and quickly notice that mosquitoes are particularly comfortable on the plantation.
Within a few minutes, they stab my arms and legs in such a way that I will remember them itchy for days.
We are then shown how the coffee bean is peeled and cleaned in a water bath.
Then it goes into an oven to dry, and the raw product is ready.
A coffee farmer processes the fruit into the raw product - the beans are roasted elsewhere
Source: Martin Lewicki.
In the past, the beans were only roasted here in a pan for several hours, now they are sent to a roastery.
Then you just have to grind them to indulge in the enjoyment of a freshly brewed coffee.
In fact, the coffee produced here and brewed in a washable fabric filter tastes very mild and balanced: no acidity, few bitter substances, but still an intense taste.
The price for a packet is hardly higher than in the supermarket, so that I, as a coffee lover, buy it.
The mentioned palm giants - they reach up to 45 meters - are by the way in the neighboring Cocora Valley.
That is also worth seeing, but you have to be lucky with the weather: in the rainy region, the way there quickly becomes a muddy and slippery affair.
Then it's better to sip a coffee in Salento - if it's freshly brewed.
Read more parts of the world tour series “One Way Ticket” here. The column appears every two weeks.
Read more parts of the world tour series “One Way Ticket” here.
The column appears every two weeks.
In any case, Germans do not do without coffee
People in Germany drank more coffee in the Corona year 2020 than in the previous year.
Because of the restrictions caused by the pandemic and the increased use of home offices, people have relocated consumption to their own four walls.