We have a late lunch in the hotel restaurant then check into our room. We lay down for a nap and 20 minutes later the bed and building are shaking. It turns out to be a 5.2 earthquake centered in Pereira, 46 km away. Woah... Much of the city of Armenia was destroyed in 1999 with a 6.2 earthquake! Obviously 5.2 isn't that dramatic and the good news is that our hotel (and other Armenia buildings) have been rebuilt to be earthquake resistant.
Tuesday morning at 9 am we meet Andres in the lobby. I contracted through ToursByLocals for him to act as our guide. I found ToursbyLocals on the internet and have communicated with Andres a few times via WhatsApp, and I am hoping for the best. He introduces us to our driver, Rolando. As Rolando eases into mid-morning traffic I whisper to Andres that I have lost my voice. But William and Andres have a good discussion as Andres explains the area and our first stop, the town of Solento.
We walk through the the town with it's brightly colored classic homes. The doors were built tall and wide in order to allow the horses inside - mostly to stay within the inner courtyard. Andres explains that the windows/balconies are designed to open on the top for two purposes. When men called upon a young women of the house they were not allowed inside. The window design allowed the women to talk with their suitors yet still be safe from their advances. Also, depending upon the configuration of the house, the windows allowed the horses to stick their heads out for fresh air.
Our second stop is Valle del Cocora, 11 km out of town. It is an area of cloud forest with towering Quindio Wax Palms. They grow to a height of over 60 meters. As we approach the trail two Andean Condors swoop overhead. They are magnificent! We also see some of the local farmers and their burrows. A lifestyle so different than ours!
We hike through the forest for about an hour with the trees towering above us then return along the same path. The changing clouds as well as view to the east rather than west makes it seem like a whole different area.
We've worked up an appetite and Ronaldo and Andres take us to a perfect restaurant for a late lunch - Fonda El Escobal (the broom). The setting is close to Valle del Cocora and we find a table on the huge porch with their lovely gardens out front. Their specialty is trout as well as avocados grown on their hillside farm. Our meals are fresh and delicious.
During lunch Andres explains that there is an issue with our plans for tomorrow. The water for the city and area around Armenia has been shut off since last night and they are estimating that it will not be on again until Thursday. We did not noticed because the hotel maintains a reserve water tank. Our planned coffee tour and cooking class will not be possible. He offers some alternatives and we choose the coffee tour and and visit to the town of Filandia with his colleague Juan.