Friday, July 11, 2014

Beermaking in Buga, Colombia

March 26-28, 2014
Buga is off the tourist path. Most people pass it up in a rush to get to Cali for salsa and fun. The people that come here are traveling a little slower and want to try some of the best microbrew in Colombia. That was what captured my interest! So, the first night I was told Stephan was making a batch of honey ginger beer. I was invited to watch at 9am. I walked the short distance to their house and was introduced to Stephan (German). He was the mastermind and creative genius behind the Holy Water Ale Brewery. I had met his business partner Carl in Salento and we met up again. They had just purchased a commercial beer setup and were altering their recipes for the increased tank capacity. Stephan explained this was only the second batch he had made at this capacity and had to think while he brewed.
They had set-up the tanks in the courtyard of the house. After watching the process, I thanked them and went to explore the town.
Buga is quiet but had a cool vibe. Very laid back with few tourists. Most Colombians asked why I chose to visit Buga. I wanted a town off the tourist path. A place to relax and enjoy. One of the most interesting sights is the cathedral. Why? Not only does it have a black Jesus but the cathedral is hand painted to look like bricks. From a distance you can not tell but up close, it is obvious someone hand painted each brick!!
I walked along the park and found a cafe. I walked in and ordered a cappuccino and relaxed. It was delicious! I followed Julio's recommendations and looked for a cafĂ© that roasted and ground the coffee fresh. As I sat reading my book, I heard someone day "no way!" In English! I looked up and it was Big and Little Jose from New York City that I had met in the thermals at Santa Rosa de Cabel. They sat down to join me and we discussed our travels. They had arrived in Buga and decided to rent a place to start a small taco restaurant. They invited me to their family farm for dinner. I said we would have to see. We said goodbye and I continued walking around the town. Past the stores, churches and the meeting point of any Colombian town - the town square. I can enjoy hours relaxing and talking in the town square with the locals. My Spanish is definitely improving and it is becoming easier. These four were some characters and told me about their lives and the women they loved. I have learned that no matter where I have traveled we are all the same. We want to be loved and provide for our families. As my Aunt Sue always said "Life is good!"

Afterward I went back to the hotel and relaxed before dinner. As I sat enjoying dinner, my friends the Jose's arrived and we enjoyed an evening of relaxing and talking over delicious home brews. We discussed going to their farm again for lunch and to see the farmland. I told them I would let them know in the morning. They left and I finished my drink and went to bed. The next morning I was sick. Dizzy, fever and upset stomach. No way I could do a day at the farm. I called and canceled with the Jose's. I am not sure what was wrong with me. I fainted a few times. One right into the floor after having a light meal. Strangest thing ever. I had been sitting at the bar talking to friends and got hot, sweaty and dizzy. I said I needed to go to my room. As I stood up, I went face first too the floor. I came to and everyone was standing around me. They were worried about me and walked me to my room. Every couple hours they checked on me. I spent the next day relaxing for fear I would faint again. I was told to keep an eye on the fainting and my temperature. Everyone kept suggesting I may have dengue fever. No!! Not the dengue!
Luckily, I had a nice room with windows overlooking the street. I heard music and laughter on the street and decided to get up and look out the window. I looked over the ledge and saw a parade of children and band walking down the street. I watched as they laughed and danced. This young girl was twirling in her white dress, it was a beautiful sight.
Buga was a great little town and the Buga Hostel was relaxing and a great place to recuperate from whatever was ailing me. Sunday, I decided to move on. It was time to go south easy to Popayan. I went to Cali and then took a slow bus to Popayan. 



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