Category Archives: Manizales

Manizales, Colombia

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Manizales, the tourist guide book says little about it. Including something along the line of leave your camera in your pocket as there are not many things to see in Manizales. So I had somewhat low expectations and decided to venture into Manizales before leaving for Salento. I was going to do a little exploring with the intention of leaving later in the day. I walked for a little bit, and exploring a new city alone can be a little stressful. I am definitely getting better at it. It is quite a skill as you don’t want to look like a tourist, yet you have to remember where you are and you are bound to get lost.

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I found a breakfast spot and sat down next to an older man and woman. If there are empty tables at a restaurant and you sit by yourself rather than with other people it can be considered to be rude. It is very Colombian to sit with other people like a community and get to know the people who are dining in the same place as you.

I met an old man named Alberto who only spoke Spanish and he was curious about my solo adventures. I told him I was leaving Manizales to Salento because I wanted to see the coffee farms there and he immediately took me under his wing and offered showing me around the town. I could not resist, so I said of course.  We first went for some coffee from the land of Manizales as it is known for its coffee farms and rich beans that are exported from the land. He paid for my breakfast and for the coffee, which is also very Colombian. When a man invites someone to do something whether it’s a movie, drinks, or out, they always always always pay. Its amazing and its considered rude if you do not let them pay.

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So for the rest of the day we drove around in his car touring the whole city. The energy of Manizales is tranquil and reminded me a lot of San Francisco. There were not vendors trying to sell you things, the people were so nice and laid back, and there were so many hills that mirrored the way San Francisco makes me feel. We saw a gorgeous cathedral, the largest and tallest in Colombia, we saw many beautiful views of the surrounding area which is all farms. And from a distance you can always see green hills and layers of houses next to each other, just like San Francisco is the background. This town is picture perfect and makes for an amazing city. Sometimes when people write in the guidebooks I don’t think they actually visit the places and give each city a chance.

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From the city we headed for beers with Alberto’s friend who owns a coffee shop. Then we went his friends coffee farm where I learned about coffee farming and got to ride his horse. They take such pride in their farms and horses. Alberto rides competitively and is so proud of it, constantly showing me pictures of his family and himself riding horses. The Colombian people here, and I think I have a good grasp on this now, are so willing to invite you into their lives. It is as if you are a part of their family and they want you to experience a good time. I felt so lucky to have met this man. But the night did not end there.

Alberto invited me to a party later that night for some beers. Of course, I agreed and met him around 7pm to take a bus to this party. At the front door of the party we are greeted with costumes we must wear, that were all handmade. We enter the kiosk hut and there are tables full of glitter, live music, a bar and people dancing. I realize that I am at a horse club, where I assume everyone owns a horse that is at this place and this is where all the competitive people who ride horses hang out. The theme of the party was Carnival Barranquilla, even though carnival has past, they still celebrate. Out comes the flour, foam and other sorts of carnival costumes. Dancing all night long and everyone so willing to meet me, dance with me, and make me feel included.

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Viejando de Cartagena a Manizales

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Backpacking: when a person travels with their belongings on their back through unknown places. I have not been doing much of this as I stay in one place 3-4 weeks. My backpack usually stays on the floor of my dormitory. When I chose to fly from Cartagena to Medellin and then bus to manizales I heard that it was easy and cheap so I was ready at 11 am to travel. I took a bus to the airport. The bus was easy to take $1,500 COP ($.75 USD) and there was even free WIFI at the airport. Go for be airport in Cartagena early! At least an hour and a half early because I almost missed my flight being an hour early. Colombian time is usually late but in this circumstance it is better to be safe than sorry.

The flight was horrible. Seriously, horrible. The whole time the plane did the up and down move where your stomach goes up in knots. It was bad, but manageable. About this time it is 3:30 pm.

Once in medellin I knew I had to take a 45 min bus to the terminal where I would take another bus to manizales. The bus from the airport to medellin was $8,000 COP ($4.00 USD). The taxis are twice as much starting at $15,000 ($7.50 USD). Make sure you ask the bus driver where the bus ends and where you want to get off. The bus driver dropped us off at a place which was not the terminal so I took another bus to the metro which I knew connected to the terminal. The metro in Medellin is super easy to navigate and costs $1,500-1,700 COP ($.75-1.00 USD) to go one way from one spot to the next.

Once I got to the terminal there were no buses to Manizales. Why? Because I was at the wrong terminal. Apparently there is a south terminal as well. Don’t go to the north terminal in Medellin if you want to head south! Trial by error!

About this time it is 4:50pm and I hop on another bus for $2,000 COP ($1.00 USD) and I arrive to the south terminal. it was about a 20 minute bus ride.

At the terminal I learn that the workers jn the coffee region are on strike because of fair wages making the whole area extremely difficult to travel through. It was 5:30pm, I was tired and just wanted to get to Manizales. I decide to start asking people around and see if there was a collective taxi since all the buses were shut off. Sure enough there was one and not a bad price. $38,000 COP ($19.00 USD. There were 7 people in a van but it didn’t leave till 6:30pm.

7:00pm we finally get going, everyone in the car is from Manizales, apparently not a lot of tourists go there. The van was okay for the first 20 minutes because we were in traffic. Once we started going I was terrified of the corners that the bus driver was cutting because they were blind corners and the only thing he based off cutting the corner by was if he could see headlights. This as well made my stomach turn into knots!

The poor gentleman beside me was helping me calm down but for 6 hours this continued and sure enough I was sick the whole time. Horrible!

I arrived safely I manizales at 1:30am and slept the whole night. 6 1/2 hour bus ride hat was supposed to be 4 hours with one bus. Next time I am bringing anti nausea medicine. So glad that is over. Staying in one place for a long period of time is much easier for me than traveling at a fast pace!