Posted by: Larzizou | August 8, 2008

Manizales, Colombia

As my time in Colombia is (very) limited, I have carefully planned for it. First weekend in Bogota, then following Monday to Wednesday in the natural wonder that the Zona Cafetera is, then second – extended – weekend in Medellin, and then up in the North before making my way overland to Venezuela.

The Zona Cafetera is thus named because it is the coffee plantation area of Colombia. I will visit a coffee farm tomorrow. I decide to visit the – not so small : 450,000 inhabitants – city today. Everybody advise me to go to the Recinto el Pensiamento, so after having waited in vain for 45 minutes for a collectivo (the Recinto is excentered), I decide that a taxi will do. Well, there is a reason for there being no collectivo/bus to the Recinto : I painfully discover, on the premises, that the Recinto is closed on Mondays. Absurdly, I find a bus going from the Recinto the other way, and take it to the city center. It is a very scenic 1h ride surmounting the valley, up and down the hills. I sit next to the driver. As he is being extremely talkative and smiley with me, I cannot decide whether he is just nice or interested in me, in a gay way. He even offers me a cookie ! Never happened to me in France… The city center, or at least the church, is an architectural gem. One of the statues facing the church below.

Another church.

The building facing the church, surmounted by “free them !!!”. One can only assume “them” designates the FARC hostages.

How modern is Manizales ? Well, that is how modern Manizales is. They sell “coccinelles”, “2CV”, “dodoche”, however you call them.

Building a tunnel ?

I try my luck to the highest viewpoint of the city, but… it is closed as well. Below is the view I get from a closeby hill.

Early wake up on day 2. Day 2 is dedicated to sightseeing. We are climbing the 5,300 meters high Nevado del Ruiz volcano and Los Nevados park. Below is Sharon, an Israeli I meet at my guest house.

The guest house where I meet Sharon and his good friend and one of the hostess working at the guesthouse. We are having a bbq in the basement. We are mediocre cooks – the meat burns.

One of the landscapes we see on the way to the top of Nevado del Ruiz.

Eight people crammed in a jeep trying to look as if they were happy in the rearview mirror.

Sharon, Emily, a Canadian girl, and I. It is FREEZING.

We have to ascend more than 400 meters.

No doubt, it is in Colombia.

I can be really stupid at times. Really. First, I did not realize it would be so cold up there before leaving. Second, I did not believe it would that cold and refused to buy gloves and a scarf on the way, thinking it is a scam. That is why I am making such a happy face.

Nice view, huh ?

I bet you wish you were here, with me.

These plants grow no more than a centimeter per year.

The guy on the right is German and the boyfriend of Emily, the Canadian girl. Emily, for each of the past four years, has been working seasonally for six months and travelling for the rest of the year. And I thought I had a good life…

Random street scene in Colombia.

Now down to what people are really up to in Manizales : visiting coffee plantations.

Coffe seeds.

Stairway to heaven.

Theses farms are cooperatives. Even though the best coffee is produced in Colombia, it is nowhere to be found in the country…because everything is exported. Some of these farms are cooperatives, but prices are fixed by a governmental agency, to which many of the producers complain (and not-so-secretly promote rumors of corruption). Some of the workers are paid in coffee seeds that they resell afterward.

Emily used to work in a flower shop and I learn from her that these plants are Heliconias. I have seen many of them in the Peruvian jungle.

Sed, our guide, loves game.

The two Israelis getting wild.

Lovers doing love stuffs.

More plants.

This stinked as hell.

Colombian dogs have style.

As well as kids.

Throughout the afternoon, Sed keeps on explaining to us the process through which coffee seeds end up on the shelves on our air-conditioned supermarkets. At times, I lose track. It would be probably more interesting, let alone precise, for you to look up the process on the Internet than expecting it to be detailed by me.

“You are amazing !” kept on saying this smart bird…



  1. tres bon post j’ai apprécié

    fond et forme ++

  2. Good text and photos, congratulations.


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