We walked through Salento’s busy town square, stopping to talk with every Colombian in cowboy boots. We were determined to find a good deal for a day of horseback riding. Eventually, we made a deal with two teenagers who promised us a full day of horseback riding including a visit to a local coffee finca and a waterfall for 60,000 pesos, an equivalent of 20 U.S. dollars. We followed the teenagers to their parents’ small horse farm down the street.
I should’ve known better when the Colombian cowboys asked our group who was the most experienced rider. Being the Mississippi native, four fingers pointed to me. They directed me to the overly energetic black horse, and I hopped on without too much hesitation.
Five minutes later, we’re all geared up and ready to go. My horse, who I’d creatively given the name Blackie, decides he’s done enough walking for the day and takes off full gallop down one of the main roads in town, passing by cars and food trucks. I pull back on the reins enough to keep with the pace of the whole group, but Blackie wasn’t going to have it. He rears back, standing on his back two legs, nearly causing me to seriously damage my face on one of the town houses tin roofs. In this state of pure chaos and panic, my natural instincts from the Mississippi farm days kick in. I handled the situation in a cool, calm, and collected manner, but I knew things between Blackie and I were done. There was just no chemistry; I had to break things off.
Unfortunately the only horse left was in fact not a horse. It looks as if I’ll be stuck with the mule. From that point on, I’d be begging for Old Mule to go any faster than a slow trot.
The first stop of our tour was the local coffee finca. Here, we were greeted with free espresso from the coffee made from the finca. It was by far the most delicious coffee I’ve ever tasted. I had three shots of espresso before the bartender cut me off. I attempted to protest this decision, but the others in my group pulled me away and led me to the start of the tour.
During the tour, we learned about the entire process of growing and cultivating the coffee beans. The farm also cultivated avocados, bananas, oranges, lemons that looked deceivingly like oranges (learned that one the hard way), and other delicious foods.
After we finished touring the finca, we hopped back on our horses (and Old Mule), and continued for an hour and a half to the waterfall. Along the way, we passed little roadside restaurants, hidden countryside houses with children playing outside, and enjoyed the insanely beautiful mountain views.
The closer we got to the waterfall, the more tropical the atmosphere got as we were nearing full on rainforest. Old Mule resentfully stomped through muddy paths and crossed rivers. The path got more narrow until we had to hop off our horses and walk the rest of the way. The view at the end of the mossy, damp path was a massive waterfall.
We took our time meandering around the scene, snapping photos and saying hello to foreign plant life we’d never seen before. After Josh took a mermaid dive into the pool below the waterfall, we relaxed another quarter of a hour there before we headed back to the horses. Before we started back for the journey to town, we took a group photo to forever capture the beautiful day.
That evening, we all agreed to go to the pueblo’s highest rated restaurant, Brunch, (#TreatYaSelf) where we devoured huge portions of delicious food. We even opted for the sinfully good peanut butter brownie with vanilla ice cream for dessert. Just based on that menu item, I knew the owner was American. It turns out he was, and the dessert was out of this world good. Sometimes when you’re traveling abroad, the only thing you want is a little taste of familiarity in the form of peanut butter brownies.
We took the night bus that evening to Medellín, an estimated 8 or 9 hours away. As we took the bus out of town down the bumpy dirt road, we looked back at Salento in the rearview with gratitude.