Tag Archives: Jewish influence in Colombia’s coffee region

Curse the rain, rejoice in the coffee

My Goldilocks trek through Colombia to find the ‘perfect’ place to teach English now finds me in the green, lush, and wet coffee region.  Can’t say I’m loving the rain, but I’m suffering – happily.

Sunset - always around 5:45p.m. (And this was taken with my iPhone)

Sunset – always around 5:45p.m. (And this was taken with my iPhone)

This is certainly the perfect place.  Tiny, touristy, Salento!  A once sleepy town dotted with coffee fincas/farms, hummingbird preserves, and a killer hike.  Jewelry shops now outnumber cafes and on weekends, tourists fill those shops and the tables in pop-up restaurants serving fresh trout and patrons in a half-dozen ways.

Palm trees making their presence known in Cocora - a valley known for great hiking

Palm trees making their presence known in Cocora – a valley known for great hiking

Like every other place I’ve been in Colombia, few people speak English.  Of course whether I can find anyone interested in paying to learn English, that is another story.  See, here’s the deal:  with the plan to only stay here for a few months it’s all but impossible to work in an institute/language school without a work visa.  And so here I am, making my way into restaurants and shops ‘selling’ the intangible skill of a new language.  Do people here need it?  As the only fluent English speaker I’ve met said:  NO!  Tourists buy stuff and easily order food and a coffee.  Somehow it all works out.  But as I’ve written before, it’s all about doing more than brushing by someone while traveling with a three word exchange. To me, it’s more important to share ideas, thoughts, and experiencs -real life stuff that needs a shared language.  Half-way through my ‘trip’, my Spanish is slowly improving, but not enough for real conversations.  Of course, even with a shared language there are no guarantees.

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So I was here, left, and now i’m back.  It all started my first hour here – getting dropped off on a small street, walking past tiny homes, asking directions to the lovely eco-hostel, while taking in the beautiful green Andean foothills surrounding me.  Green, clean, quiet – what’s not to love!

In the land of pay toilets - with an extra surcharge for toilet paper (of course!).  This little girl (all ready for Halloween) was happy to pose holding my TP at the Medellin bus station

In the land of pay toilets – with an extra surcharge for toilet paper (of course!). This little girl (all ready for Halloween) was happy to pose holding my TP at the Medellin bus station

In Medellin I'd heard that ponchos in this region looked like Tallt/tallises, a Jewish ritual shawl worn during services - brought here by the Jewish exiles from Spain in the early 1500's.

In Medellin I’d heard that ponchos in this region looked like Tallt/tallises, a Jewish ritual shawl worn during services – brought here by the Jewish exiles from Spain in the early 1500’s.

This shot from Cartagena could be from anywhere in the country - hawkers trying to sell to tourists - beaded necklaces btw!  I haven't bought anything - yet and have learned not to make eye contact, just a smile to for those who hawk.

This shot from Cartagena could be from anywhere in the country – hawkers trying to sell to tourists – beaded necklaces btw! I haven’t bought anything – yet and have learned not to make eye contact, just a smile to for those who hawk.