Armenia, Colombia – With a brief exception, I’ve spent the vast majority of the past four months on or near the equator, and tonight was the first evening I took a stroll without a jacket. It reminded me of what South America could be if I only made the effort to come down a few notches from two of the world’s highest capitals.
Even Armenia, capital of Colombia’s Quindio province and yes, apparently named after the country of the same name to honor those who were systematically slaughtered in the Armenian genocide by the Ottomans one hundred years ago, is hardly a sea-level kind of place. At 1,551m (5,089 ft) it’s nearly a mile high, and is surrounded on three sides by some of central Colombia’s highest mountains whose peaks meet the sky at more than 4,500m, or 14,700 feet. But it is more than 1,000m lower than Bogota (2,640m /8,660 ft) and Quito (2,850m /9,350 ft) and the difference is so wonderfully palpable.
Bogota is about 280 kilometers to the northeast, which today equated to just over seven-and-a-half hours by bus. The first hour-and-a-half was needed just to reach the edge of Bogota. Traffic wasn’t really an issue – the city is simply that massive. The last hour involved fighting Friday afternoon rush hour in this city of 300,000, dealing with a small avalanche and a fallen tree. The rest was spent climbing, crossing and descending the Andes which meant lots of views like the one above through the dirty bus window that was my TV today. Even from my hotel balcony perch overlooking the Calle Bolivar, the mountains form a picturesque and soothing backdrop to the loud and busy Friday night commotion below.
I’ll be spending three nights here, choosing to break up the long haul to Cali at roughly midway. It’s near the center of coffee country and I was hoping to check out a nearby farm. But the weather over the next few days might limit my tastings to cafes within the city limits. And to prove wrong most travel guides which suggest travelers should skip stopping here altogether.
For the bus journey-curious, more on the actual ride when I sort through and process some images. As usual I took way too many.
And for the record, today’ Pic du Jour, the site’s 522nd straight, was taken on 19 June 2015 about 35 kilometers east of Armenia, Colombia.