Welcome to our travel blog. We are Tabitha and Nic. In 2011 we 'retired' in our early 40s and set off to travel the world. We spent our first year in South America and have been lucky enough to make two trips to Antarctica.

Our blog is a record of our travels, thoughts and experiences. It is not a guide book, but we do include some tips and information, so we hope that you may find it useful if you are planning to visit somewhere we have been. Or you may just find it interesting as a bit of armchair travel.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Hacienda Venecia Day 3 - volcanoes and traditional food

The third day at the plantation was a visit to the National Park called Los Nevados.  We wound our way up the side of the volcano.  The volcano is an active one but it is only on yellow alert.  Green is when it is dormant, yellow is active but not expected to erupt, orange is that an eruption is expected and red is an eruption.  The last eruption was 1989, but the worst one was in 1985, when the eruption caused an avalanche that went sixty km along a canyon in one hour, destroying towns and killing 20,000 people.  At the top of the volcano - or as close as we were allowed to get to it - we could see where the canyon used to be and the remains of a bridge that used to cross it sticking up out of the new ground level. 
last eruption filled the canyon
The road up the volcano was full of turns and switchbacks.  Out local driver knew the road well, but still there were a few hairy moments when it seemed that the bus that we were on lost traction or just simply when we were yet again right on the edge of a sheer drop.  We stopped off a few times on the way up. 

big plants
The first was to take a closer look at the plants that covered the hillside.  They reminded me a little of a pineapple.  The stem was a series of rings, and the heights varied from about a foot to about six foot high.  But the top of the plant had lots of soft green furry leaves and flowers that looked like little sunflowers.  They looked beautiful individually, but I found the sight of them all on the hillside really striking.  In particular, the low cloud meant that they had a slightly spooky look about them as they were just visible through the heavy mist.  Suitable for the day after Halloween.

excellent fresh water

Our next stop was to checkout the water.  We filled our bottles at a stream of water tumbling down the rocks, assured by our guide that it was the purest in Colombia.  It was icy cold and certainly tasted good. 

Further up the volcano we got off again to see the rocks and lunar looking landscape.  We sat for a while on the rocks because despite the chilly weather, they were nice and warm. Even the pool of water in one of the hollows in the rock was tepid rather than icy as it should have been.

warm rocks

We paused a few more times in the way to the top, and once there we broke through the layer of cloud into bright sunshine to see the peak of the volcano, covered in a glacial layer of ice and snow. We stopped for our lunch and a hot chocolate, before making our way back down.

sculpture in Manizales

On the way back to the finca, we passed through Manizales town, still struggling with its lack of water. From what we saw, it is a lovely town with fabulous views out to the surrounding mountains.  We stopped to look at the view and checked out a huge sculpture representing the pioneers.  It was most impressive depicting people and oxen dragging a city up the hill.  We also found a huge dead beetle.

sculpture in Manizales

Back at the finca, the girls cooked us up a traditional Colombian meal of a hearty chicken and potato, with corn on the cob, avocado, capers and quipa, which is a like a rice pancake.
big dead beetle

We set off for Guatape in the morning, and as we drove we could see how prevalent the landslides are in this area.  We later found out that after we left there was another mudslide in Manizales that killed 24 people.

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