Tuesday, October 2, 2012


Pronouced as it looks, Man' i zal ez.  We left Medellin planning for a leisurely ride and arrival at the EcoHotel La Juanita in Manizales.  Manizales is in the coffee region of Colombia and great place to visit the coffee fields and get a tour of the coffee process.  There are some coffee plantations even along the way to Manizales.  It makes the hills look very cultivated.

I had made a route plan and spoke with Chuck about a route that wasn't in the maps on our Garmin that took us up through La Cabana.  When we finally arrived at the point to make the turn, the GPS began to say that the direction we were going was incorrect.

Chuck felt strongly about not going the direction I suggested and follow the route indicated the GPS.  I asked Chuck if he trusted me, wisely he said 'probably not'!  And I threw down the gauntlet, I said "you are welcome to go that way, but I am going this way."  If any of you know the story of me and Chuck, a statement similar to that led to us going separate ways in California nine or ten years ago.

Fortunately for both of us, a fellow on a little Chinese bike came by and I asked him if the way I pointed was to La Cabana.  I learned after a few confused looks that the correct pronunciation is La Cabuya.  He graciously led us up the road to La Cabana.  This was one beautiful ride.  The road was narrow but nice and paved.  The views were spectacular and NO TRUCKS!  Ok, one or two but not that bad.  This is by far the best road we have ridden since being in Colombia.

View from the road to La Cabana
We arrived at the EcoHotel La Juanita and met, Rosaria, Ricardo and their son Ricardo Jr.  They are doing wonderful things with their little hotel.  We took the two single rooms and have a room to ourselves for the first time on our trip.  I will post some more pictures as we continue with our visit here.

This doesn't look that steep ... but it is.

Entrance to La Juanita

Hotel EcoHotel La Juanita
A view from El Terrace in Manizales

Dinner on El Terrace in downtown Manizales
When we arrived at the La Juanita, the water was out, but they had it back on later that night.  The pipe from the city had broken and the city was out fixing it.  Last night around 10:00p the power in my room went out. Just my room.  The owners had gone home (down the hill), but their daughter was still in the main house using the computer.  Again through hand signals, my limited spanish and her limited english, I communicated the problem.  She called her dad, first by whistling off the back porch (not sure why), and then calling on the cell phone.  The solution was for me to move into the "big house" into a fancy room.  I must be living right.

By the time I had all my stuff over, I had broke out in a sweat.  So I showered.  Good thing, because I found out this morning that the water is out again.  I don't know how Chuck feels about such things but I am learning to take it all in stride, deal with the inconvenient and revel in the experience.  A person is truly a happy soul if their worst experience is a learning experience and they don't bring those around them down.

I want to make sure that everyone understands that our hosts have done to make our visit enjoyable.  Rosario, Richardo and their family have gone out of their way to see that what we wanted to do and see was addressed.

Here is Rosario in her garden, that I reckon is needed to get away from the stress of two very high maintenance gringos.

Coffee Processing in Manizales
The area around Manizales is considered some of the best coffee producing areas in Colombia.  Today we visited the Venecia coffee farm, an approximately 300 acre coffee producing and process farm near Manizales.
Coffee plants on the hills of the Venecia coffee farm
Alexander (Alex) was our guide and did a great job of explaining how things worked.  Here he is making us a cappuccino and explaining how the coarseness of the grind and the amount of compaction of the cup effect the taste.  Then it was interesting to actually taste the difference between two different cups just with these changes.

Seedlings for new growth when old plants are removed.
Most of the coffee production is hot, hard work.
Something for my lovely wife, perhaps she can identify this? :-)
Alex told us that coffee workers earn about the equivalent of $16usd a day.  This is more than the average of $8 for laborers.


  1. Thanks Dave, next stop Thailand :-)

  2. That's a hibiscus plant. Was it planted there purposefully? Are you bringing or sending coffee home?


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