colombia women

On Friday I flew as a guest on Spirit Airlines‘ first flight to the Coffee Triangle area of Colombia, to the town of Armenia and have been touring around the region. It turns out this was the first international flight to this airport of any kind, so it was a big deal. The mayor was there, the governor, local TV crews, a brass band, kids singing the national anthems (theirs and ours), and local beauty pageant winners. I can’t say I’ve ever gotten a welcome quite like that before when stepping off an airplane.

This is a beautiful area, with lots of mountains and rolling hills, and the climate is quite pleasant at this altitude of 1,200 to 2,500 meters above sea level. And of course the coffee has been heavenly. No “gas station Colombian” here.

colombia-sazagua

Most of the tourism in this area has been domestic, so I’ve only visited one hotel that meets the standards of Luxury Latin America. It’s a beauty though: Sazagua, pictured here. The other problem is that English proficiency is pretty rare, so it would make sense to hire a guide or set up some kind of organized tour to get the most of your visit unless you speak Spanish. (Our group of writers and Spirit Air people has been using Citurc.)

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Colombia Cocora valley