Colombia – Bogota to Manizales & Hacienda Venecia Jan 3, 2017

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We awoke minutes before the alarm at 6:00am. Today we fly to Manizales and from there, on to Manizales for our three day stay on a working coffee farm, Hacienda Venecia. This is one of the areas I have been waiting to experience, El Cafetero, the coffee zone.
Victor is early to pick us up and as we are ready we head to the airport. Our flight isn’t until 10:20am, however the hotel suggested we leave at 7:30am, as one never knows what rush hour traffic will be like. We made it in good time by 8:00am, checked in and sat ourselves down to wait. Thank heavens for airport Wi-Fi!

Before we knew it, it was time to board our Avianca flight in an ATR72, which is a propeller aircraft holding almost 70 people. The flight was smooth and the views below were magnificent. Even though Bogota is a huge city, we were past the city limits and overlooking farmland in no time. We flew over the Corderilla Central range and for miles we saw lush tropical hills dotted with small farms and farmhouses – absolutely gorgeous!

As we were preparing to land I was wondering if there was a large enough piece of land to build a runway, it just seemed to be hills & valleys everywhere. Well, they did manage to find flat land, but just enough, and I think the ATR 72 is likely the largest that can land there. Once we stopped we turned back to the terminal and we were at the very end of the runway! Reminders of flying into Lukla airport in Nepal flashed through my head.

Our transfer driver to the Hacienda was to be Guillermo, however he sent his son Juan Gabriel instead. I had read the journey would be 50minutes, but we made it in about 35 or 40 minutes! We were early for check-in, so Juan Gabriel lefts us great hands with the Hacienda staff.

There are three sections of the Hacienda, the Main House, the Guesthouse, and the Hostel. We booked the Guesthouse and it was the middle price range. As it happens, the Guesthouse has just undergone a huge 4 month renovation, and you guessed it, they weren’t quite ready for us. Prior to being driven to the Guesthouse, we were asked to enjoy lunch and relax at the Main House for a few hours. What a pleasure that was! The meal of Ajiaco soup was delicious and we wiled away the hours on the verandah in either a rocking chair or hammock.

The Echeverri family, owners of the Hacienda for the last 55 years, have converted their house into an Eco Tourism hotel.  It is still a very large coffee farm, over 200 Hectares, and can accommodate over 30 guests wanting to experience the Hacienda.  The family is very generous and hospitable, sharing their living room and chatting with us.  Thankfully Fero asked them if we could take a photo as I would have thought of it days later!

The Echeverri family, Owners of Hacienda Venecia

The Hacienda is almost 100 years old and it is like a story book, whitewashed walls with brightly coloured red accents, flowers, countless species of birds, and views of the lush green hills in the distance! I was transported right into one of my Spanish telenovelas.

The last couple of weeks over the Christmas holiday season, they struggled getting workers. To make a long story short, our rooms were habitable, however they were still getting the water, electricity etc. up & running.  Workers were still tiling the pool area, painting door frames and adding door knobs – it is actually hilarious.  We even tried to help, but they wouldn’t hear of it. We are missing cupboard/closet space, a mirror, and glass for the windows but we have a balcony with chairs, a beautiful shower, a comfy bed, and wine – we are happy!

We met the other people staying here during ‘happy hour’ and chatted the evening away while the ladies cooked our dinner. Dinner was simple but good, as they are still putting things together. We were tired after our very exciting day so went off to bed following dinner and realized it was only 8pm.

It was pitch black and we easily fell asleep until with a crash and a bang, we were awoken by an incredible thunderstorm and tropical rain. The sheet lightening lit up the sky and at times the thunder almost had me jump out of bed it was so loud. And the rain was torrential for over 2 hours, I thought we may float away! Finally around 3am the rain subsided and we had a very fitful sleep.

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