Saturday, March 22, 2008

Good Friday in Salento

Salento is a quiet and relaxing. Ironically, it is for this very reason that so many people visit this town of about 4,000 in the mountains northeast of Armenia. Most visitors come from Eje Cafetero or the Valle del Cauca for a weekend getaway. Others visit from Medellín, and only a few from Bogotá. In relative terms, it is still unknown. Many people in Bogotá I have talked to have never even heard of Salento. Nevertheless, on holidays, such as Good Friday, yesterday, the main plaza and streets surrounding Salento are packed with people and cars. Tents are set up in a circle in the plaza for people to eat fresh trout and drink Poker beer. This is the custom each weekend. Calle Real, or Carrera 6, was packed with people shopping for handicrafts that can be found in virtually every shop on this street. Others were climbing the steps up a steep hill at the end of Calle Real for a panoramic view of the town and the Valle del Cocora nearby. There were palm branches placed against the buildings in and around the main plaza.


Many people were eating and drinking, including me. Many were praying in church. By night time, a procession of people holding candles and crosses walked through the city streets. About this time I had begun drinking rum with a guy from the United Kingdom named Gary. We polished off a pint and then met up with some local friends. That is when we began drinking aquardiente shots. It was a long night for me to say the least. I guess I drank so much because I had not done much drinking the entire trip. I was always on the go and waking up at dawn to begin my day. I left Salento today tired. It was a good tired. I’m sure I’ll return to Eje Cafetero at some point. And if not, I’ll still have many fond memories of the beautiful scenery, friendly people, and interesting outdoor adventures.



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