Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Santa Rosa De Cabal, Colombia

During my time in Salento, I decided to take a day trip to the hot thermals in a small town, Santa Rosa de Cabal. I was told it would be an easy day trip from Salento. So, some friends (Allison and Christopher) and I decided to pack our swimsuits and take the bus to Pereira and then another to Santa Rosa de Cabal. Bus travel is easy, the hard part is the time it takes. In Colombia, the bus driver stops for people along the side of the road. It's financially advantageous to the driver because he gets to pocket the money. There is no way to track this since there is no ticket. So, we got on the bus and slowly made our way to Pereira and caught the Santa Rosa bus with 3 minutes to spare. The bus driver dropped us off a couple blocks from the town square where we could take a taxi or another bus to the thermals. We chose the taxi since it was faster and cheap.

There are 2 thermals at Santa Rosa de Cabal. We chose to go to the Balneario thermals upon the recommendations of locals. This thermal is less expensive and more beautiful than the thermals at the hotel. They suggestion was fantastic! Look at the view.
When we arrived at the hot springs, I was happy we had made the trip. Yes, we left late (1pm) and knew the bus ride back to Salento would be tricky and require a few transfers since the last direct bus left Pereira at 4:20pm. We knew we would not make the last bus, no worries. Returning to Salento would require some transfers and standing on the side of the highway at night, but it was worth it! We walked up the hill, past small waterfalls and flower gardens. 

After changing into my swimsuit and checking my belongings, I walked out the waterfall.  I felt like I was in Hawaii. It was beautiful!
I stepped into the water at the bottom of the waterfall. WOW! That is cold! I turned to leave and bumped into a couple of Colombian men. They smiled and asked if I would like to join them in the thermals. I thanked them but told them I was here with friends and would see them around. I walked over to one of the three pools and stepped into the warm water. This was more like it. A nice 40C water. I waded over to Christopher and Allison and relaxed in the water. I needed this. The hills in Salento were hard on my bum. I was sore. And the warm mineral water felt like heaven.
As I have traveled, I have been to several spas and thermals. I missed soaking my tired body in warm water and this was heaven. Ahhhh! I switched between the warm thermals and the cold waterfalls. I was relaxed and happy. Christopher started talking about needing a massage and went to talk to the spa about an appointment. Meanwhile, Allison and I ran into my friends from the waterfall. They introduced themselves and told me that Jose was traveling with his father and he had grown up in New York City. He was a chef and he and his father had decided to move back to Colombia to open a restaurant. We all talked and laughed. Then the guys ordered a bottle of Auguadiente ( an anise-flavored liqueur derived from sugarcane). Allison and I both said no but eventually agreed to one shot. Whoa! It was strong and I did not want any more. Jose was headed to Salento in the next day or 2 and invited us to dinner at the finca they had rented. I had to turn them down because I was not comfortable going alone and Christopher and Allison were returning to Ecuador. We said our goodbyes and we went to get massages. The massage was great except for the loud music that was playing to cover up the noise from the tourists at the thermals. I felt like an old lady. I could not hear the masseuse. It took away from the relaxing environment but I was not going to complain - an hour massage for $24! I was going to miss this when I returned to the USA.
After our massages, we got dressed to catch the last bus to Santa Rosa de Cabal. It was 7 PM, much later than we had expected. We returned to town and walked to the bus stop for the Pereira bus. The one thing I have learned in traveling is always ask directions 3 times. It is common to get a variety of directions. In some countries, people will not tell you they do not know so, they just make up directions and you get lost. Others will tell you to go straight for a few blocks and then ask for directions. Sometimes all three people give the same directions. Tonight, we were lucky because everyone gave the same directions tonight.
As we walked, we came to a plaza with shops and a chiva restaurant. The chivas are colorful old buses that are used for local transportation. Some are also used in tourist areas for sightseeing but this is the first time I have seen a restaurant chiva.
Wouldn't that be fun! They had local musicians to play while you eat. We thought about eating here but wanted to get to Pereira before all the buses stopped for the evening. As we walked through the plaza, I started to laugh. I LOVED the centerpiece. Where but Central or South America do you see this?
Yes! A machete centerpiece!! Why not? Colombians love their machetes. You never know when yo have to chop down brush or kill a snake.

We continued down the road and were crossing the street when a Colombian guy asked where we were going. We told him we were trying to find the bus stop and he pointed to stay on the side of the road. He waved down the Pereira bus and we jumped on. As we thanked him he asked for a tip for his services. Ha! We thought he was just being nice and then realized was this his business. You have to love ingenuity! I have seen Colombians work to sell anything on the streets. They work hard and it really does make life easier.

We got on the bus and arrived in Pereira 45 minutes later. We walked to the windows for buses headed to Circasia and asked to purchase 3 tickets. No luck. The last bus had left 30 minutes ago. The woman told us we would have to take a taxi. Darn! Well it was that or a hotel room for the night. We decided to have a quick meal at the bus station and then get a taxi. Over dinner, Christopher explained that I need to label all photos with a simple and descriptive title. It became our game to see who could come up with the best title. Extra points for humor. Any guesses on what I titled this one?


The taxi to Salento was long. It is a 50 minute bus ride but it took us 1 hour and 40 minutes by taxi!! And $60!! Alison speaks Spanish so Christopher and I let her sit in the front. First the driver told us that he needs to go get permission to take us to Salento. What?!?! Seems the Pereira taxi's are only allowed to go out of town 3 times a month. We had to go to an office and provide our passport numbers to get authorization. Afterwards, the taxi driver felt bad and drove us around Pereira to see the sights. We kept telling him we wanted to go straight to Salento but he kept driving around town showing us churches. Christopher and I were delirious by this point and could not stop laughing. I felt bad but....I was so tired. Allison was in the middle of a history of Pereira lesson and was ignoring us and our silly behavior. An hour later, we were on the highway to Salento. Once again, Christopher and I got to laughing when Allison would ask a question and the taxi driver would slow down to 25 mph to answer her question. Ahhh! This was taking us forever! We were excited when he finally pulled up in front of our house! It was 11:00 PM and we were exhausted and everyone went straight to bed. A fun day with plenty of adventure.

1 comment:

  1. Wonderful blog!!! Even we didn’t know about all those things you’ve written in your blog i am manutha from Cab OneWay