Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Hot Spring in Colombia

After waking up in our host little farm (with a horse, a duck and a bunch of chickens) in Pereira, we made some arepa (corn cake), juice and played with the 3 months old energetic little black cat, we set off to Santa Rosa Termales.

(Note: termales is hot spring, but tamales is typical local food, corn flour dough wrapped by corn ear and steamed, with chicken and meat inside, taste and looks like Chinese rice dumpling).

We reached the bus terminal by bus, then found a van heading Santa Rosa de Cabal, an one hour scenic ride to the countryside. From somewhere near the market, we caught a chiva (amusement park kind of bus with long wooden bench seats and need to climb up from one side), which cost us COP$2500 each (HKD 12). .

The chiva drove pass the plaza as well, guess it would be easier to find from there. We just saw it on the street and ran to catch it.

After almost 45 minutes ride, passing a lot of hostels and restaurant promoting their chorizo santarosana, (which I really wanted to try) we arrived a termales, which looks like a theme park. Costing COP$30,000 each.

The driver told us the returning chiva will be 4pm and it was already 1pm. Wanting to find something cheaper, Adley insisted walking on. It was a wide rocky path uphill and after 15 minutes, we arrived a hotel complex with hotspring.

It cost us COP$40,000 (even more expensive) but we were attracted by the fact that we could pay credit card (with better rate than our ATM cash) and the termales got some very nice waterfalls of hot water faling to the pool!

We checked that there will be a return bus at 7pm, costing only COP$1,200@ back to Santa Rosa town and thought we could just soak in the pools for the whole afternoon! So, we entered!

The hot spring was wonderful! Though there was only one big pool for spa guests, it was wonderfully set next to the cool waterfall. And on the other side, another artificial waterfall that gave hot water. In addition, there were 3 others smaller pools for hotel guests only. I didn't know that and soaked in one of them and the staff told me apologetically that I should leave...errrr ok.

Those two waterfalls are really nice though, we could soak in the hot water, then get the refreshing waterfall shower for a change.

They got massage service and catering as well, some guests would be drinking cold beer, cola, icecream and having a head massage while soaking in the steaming hot pool.

We were a pair of poor backpacker with no money to enjoy such luxury. But, we went up to the source of the waterfall, which is really scenic. We also got some fresh cold water from the waterfall for drinking, which is equally refreshing. It was a 10 minutes mini hiking track but nice and quiet, with different kind of beautiful birds around.

Night fell. After soaking and resting in this little paradise of steam and heat for almost five hours, we caught the 7pm bus, occupied mostly by staffs. (Most locals came here by driving.)

The bus passed the town but not the central plaza. We were confused and waited till the last stop, however it was on the other side of the town of Santa Rosa. A taxi driver stopped us and told us that we better took a cab as it was dangerous to walk there at this time. We ignored his advise but walked rapidly across the valley. It was a long ten minutes walk, which felt like ages, but we managed to reach the main street safe and sound. We found a little shop that soldl chorizo with arepa. Our host in Pereira told us not to return without enjoying the sausages. And its the most famous chorizo in Columbia. It was very heavily marinated and rather salty. We managed to find a carnerceria and got some home to share with our couchsurfing host, Lina and her family.

Something interesting happened when we were in the small shop having chorizo con arepa, a young girl approached us, asked where we were from and said she wanted to show us something. She asked for my hand to tide a bracelet and asked me to make a wish before tiding. And said the wish will come true. A lot of south america normad were making those friendship knots to sell for money, but she seems to be friendly and I didn't know how to say no to her.

Then she asked, ' now you need to give me something, as exchange'. She wanted to give one to Adley too, which he refused. I was thinking to offer my single earring (which the other one was lost somewhere earlier) but Adley was quick in offering a bookmark from Ecuador and gave her a long beautiful description.

She smiled with thanks but folded to bookmark in her palm in no time! (oops! Sorry darling!)

Then a bunch of kids approached us selling some fruity ice in straw for COP$100@. We refused but they curiously surrounded us and wanted to know where we were from. We asked their names and wrote them the Chinese translation. They were crazy about traditional Chinese writing and request us to write on their arm like tatoo! Suddenly we were surrounded by them queueing up for the quick tatoo! It was so much fun.

Afterwards, we went elsewhere to eat grill pork in stick and a sauteed meatball with an egg inside. They were nice. It's a pity that we are short of cash to get some beer.

We caught a bus back to Pereira easily on the mainstreet and went home to grill the sausage with some potato, then went to salsa with Lina until middle of the night!

It was a salsa club with only salsa music and nothing else. We bought some aquardiente (Columbia alcohol with Anis, taste like herb or medicine and drink in a small shooter glass, straight) and local rum to get drunk and dance the night away!

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