Where can you find an array of houses with multicolour door frames, windows and balconies? Nearby, very tall palms with lanky trunks grow in a valley surrounded by rounded green hills, accessible by taking a “Willy”, no not that willy. Welcome to Salento.
Getting dropped off in heavy rain to catch another bus is not my idea of fun! Fortunately, there’s shelter and a brief wait. Salento is unlike any place I’ve ever seen.
The bus drops off at the town’s plaza, and I make my way to my hotel, complete with a noisy green parrot. Making my way back to the plaza, I spot a street full of craft shops. Two-story white buildings line both sides. Each one sports a line of rectangles at its base, coloured orange-red, lime green, sky blue, orchid purple and bright orange. Many combine colours. They form rectangle and square patterns on the doors. An orange rectangle may have a bright yellow frame. This is a geometric paradise if you like rectangles and squares. Many have balconies that sport the same colour scheme. The result: an array of buildings, where no two are the same, an open art gallery of windows and doors.
Salento’s best secret hides in the Valle de Cocora, which I reach by taking a restored WW II jeep, called a “Willy”. They depart from the Plaza. The 60-meter tall palma de cera or wax palm grows here. It is the tallest palm tree in the world and exists only here. These trees cascade down the grassy hills found in the valley and sway in the wind. Meadows, with the obligatory cows, lie between them. People can hike or hire a horse. I could hear only horses and birds. Bogota seemed like it resided in a different universe.