Half a day with I Am Colombiano: From a fruit tasting to the rainforest

By Shea Drefs

My best friend and I just got back from a half-day outing in Colombia’s coffee triangle, and we are beaming.

We started at 9 a.m. with a stunning drive from the city of Pereira to a nearby nature reserve. Our guide, Adriana, chatted to us about Colombian customs as she drove us through green rolling hills covered with mist.

Sueño de Luz” Cottage

When we pulled into Adriana’s pink-and-blue cottage, in the heart of the Barbas Bremen Reserve, we were greeted by her two adorable dogs, beside themselves with happiness. We explored the garden with them and lounged in a hammock while Adriana prepared us an exotic fruit tasting. Dragon fruit, sweet passion fruit, soursop, lulo, star fruit, goose berries, two types of guava… it was so delicious! And the experience of tasting outdoors with a view of the mountains and a village in the distance couldn’t be beaten.

To the rainforest

When we’d had our fill of fruit, we hopped back in the car and drove another five minutes to the start of our rainforest hike. This was lush land the likes of which I’d never seen before. The trees’ roots curled around their trunks and the beetles buzzed so loudly they couldn’t be ignored. We walked downhill for an hour until we reached the rushing Barbas River, and I put my feet in the water while we watched a father and son fish; they were the only other humans we saw on our trek.

Just as we were starting our ascent up the mountain, the rain began. At first, it was a drizzle, but soon it was a downpour. We were soaked within minutes, but that didn’t stop us from pausing to admire neon-spotted caterpillars and vista views. Even in the midst of a rainstorm, the sight of a Colombian valley covered with layer upon layer of greenery is breathtaking. In the end, the storm may have even added to our sense of adventure. After all, what’s the rainforest without a little rain?

Coffee time

With the two-hour hike complete, Adriana drove us again to her cottage, where we warmed up with coffee and savory pastries. Sitting at the kitchen table, we talked to Adriana’s mother at length about how she left the city for country life 13 years ago. Once we were somewhat dry, she hugged us warmly and urged us to come back soon. Adriana had us back to Pereira by 2 p.m., just in time for an afternoon nap.

As Adriana’s mom Luz said to us, “Here, in the country… this is real life.” After spending a half-day exploring Colombia’s terrain, I couldn’t agree more.

Shea Drefs is an American teaching English in Colombia. She spends her free time hiking and sightseeing in the Coffee Axis and devising a plan to stay in South America forever.