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I can’t resist going to the thermal baths of Santa Rosa de Cabal after a local Medelin describe these wonders. After a 4 hour bus ride to the east I check into a hotel and jump on a Chiva after a 45min ride into the jungle I am awe struck at my first sight of a six tier flowing waterfall and the four thermal pools filled by the heated waters from the nearby nevado del rey volcano. I think to myself while I am sitting in the natural therapeutic waters drinking a club Columbia starring at one of the most beautiful waterfalls ever this is one reason why I travel to experience the natural wonders of the world
It’s always a bit weird when you go from atmosphere of big city ie Medlin to a small Columbia town i.e. Santa Rosa not to mention the people look at me i.e. white guy like I have a unicorn on my forehead, but different is good and the people of santa rosa treat me like family.
After a couple days in the thermal baths I move on to the Zona cafeteria even though its only 1% of the land mass of Columbia they supply 80% of the coffee of the 2ndmost traded commodity after oil. Columbia is the 3rd largest coffee exporter in the world and coffee is its biggest export after coca. Salento population 7000 is a perfect place to explore the coffee region with its rolling hills, mountains, farms, donkeys and cowboys this region feels like going back in time and I Iove it.
It was interesting learning about fair trade coffee in Columbia remember Juan Valdez, the happy Columbian coffee farmer who became the face of the Colombian coffee farmer in 1959. He was the brainchild of the National Federation of Coffee Growers, the first democratically run federation of coffee growers devoted to fair trade. Established in 1927 to “build the prosperity of the Colombian coffee farmer”, the Colombian Coffee Federation (FNC) is wholly owned by the farmers themselves. For 80 years, it has led the way in guaranteeing a fair price to Colombian farmers for their product. At last count, the FNC represents over 500,000 small coffee farmers in Colombia.
Free competition from other coffee buyers is one of the tenets to which it has always held
It has funded irrigation, education, and clean drinking water. It has pioneered ways to help cafeteras grow better coffee, grow coffee sustainably and get the best price for their coffee. The amount of coffee in one cup probably cost the shop about 6 cents. The grower of that coffee receives less than one percent of the price of soluble coffee on the market about .06 cents. That’s $.0006. In order to make even one cent, the coffee grower would need to grow and sell enough coffee for almost 1,700 cups of coffee bought at the local coffee shop. For most coffee growers, that means operating at a loss year after year.
Fair Trade may not be perfect. There are many who would argue that removing price controls and allowing farmers to compete openly would eventually reduce the number of farmers who are trying to sell, driving supplies down and demand and consequently prices up. The problem with this reasoning is the human cost, which is astronomical in a market that supports millions of families worldwide.
DID YOU KNOW? The common Spanish expression, Ni Chicha ni limonada is roughly equivalent to the English "Neither fish nor fowl."
NOTES FOR THE TRAVELLER:You can reach Santa Rosa de Cabal (4 hours, 25 000 pesos) from Medlin or Pereira (1200 pesos). Coffee Town hostel is good in town hostel with great owners and cheap accomdation (18000 pesos). A 45min chiva bus from town will get you to the hot springs. Hot springs(14000 pesos weekdays).Salento can be reached form Pereira or Amenia (5000 pesos 1hour). Recommend Tralala (18000 pesos) and highly recommend staying in eco lodge La Serrana (19000 pesos). Plenty of hikes in Vally de cochua easy accessible by the jeep in town. Plenty of small coffee finca to visit in the area.