Sir.J goes Colombian!
Sir.J goes Colombian!

Away with Señor.J: Exploring True Colombia!

I took a sip and had a dream, and I woke up in Medellín... Its a line from a Madonna song but sometimes dreams become reality! In a blink I flew from Miami down to Medellín (MDE), only a few hours by plane, and I arrived in a country I had only ever heard (and knew very little) about. What a fascinating, layered place to visit and thanks to my new friends at True Colombia Travel, I saw an unexpected side of a country with a fascinating history. Of course you hear Colombia and think coffee (ok, and maybe Escobar, but you can't speak of Colombian history without discussing him!) but the country has so much to offer due to its beautiful topography and the fact that travel there now couldn't be safer.

First stop: a stay at Colombia's oldest coffee plantation!

From my arrival in MDE where I was greeted by both Brian and Ana, the partners of True Colombia Travel, we took a couple hours drive into the countryside of Antioquia and arrived in a beautiful setting which also happened to be the oldest coffee plantation in Colombia! The property is owned by some politically notable Colombians and provided a perfect spot to begin a couple days of adventure. 
Coffee, like wine, or chocolate (as I later discovered) is not all created equally and has a whole range of varieties, qualities and of course flavor profiles depending upon its growing environment. Funny enough, due to government regulations that existed until recently, all the best coffee was exported from Colombia, so Colombians in general are just starting to enjoy and appreciate good coffee!

Click above for Coffee 101!

Did you know? Dark, shiny beans are typically over roasted and the shine comes from their oils being extracted from the bean as they age which leaves the beans with a strong, burnt flavor (here's looking at you, Starbucks!) typically this is because the beans aren't of the best quality and so they are over roasted to hide imperfections in flavor. Needless to say, after my coffee tutorial with Brian, I haven't made or tasted coffee in the same way since!
From very top then left to right: arriving in MDE!, sunset views from the coffee farm, Brian & Ana from True Colombia Travel and me!, separating the shells from coffee beans, pre- post de-shelled coffee beans, Professor Brian's coffee class!

Dia de las Flores!

Flora and fauna galore in Colombia! It is one of the world's most biodiverse countries and therefore all kinds of flowers are grown in Colombia for export. There is a meticulous process involved in getting flowers out of the ground, on to aircraft for shipment, and into your home. Due to customs regulations, farmers must ensure that not one bug ducks under cover and makes its way out of Colombia. If caught, this could result in serious penalties for exporters as we learned at a hydrangea farm.
We also took a stop to learn about a beautiful local tradition. Flower farmers up in the hills used to make the long trek down the valley into Medellín to sell their products in markets. In honor of this practice, the Flower Festival has become an annual tradition with a parade and competition in which families make beautiful (and elaborate) flower displays that they carry on their backs in the parade. The grand prize allows the winner to travel the world for a year all expenses paid to tell their story-- a huge treat for these local growers, many of whom have never left their towns, let alone their country. We had the chance to watch a local legend in action as she created a small version of one of these displays in front of us!
Clockwise from top left: building our flower display with a local legend!, flower farm, hydrangea farm, Brian and me with our hydrangea ready to ship!

Cannúa: outpost to adventure!

Cannúa is Colombia's first luxury eco hotel and was constructed on permaculture principals which means they leave the land better than they found it. This includes everything from turning the dirt they dig up into bricks to build the hotel to creating programs which engage and enrich the local community. The hotel is a little over an hour from Medellín and is in the countryside of Antioquia
The property is composed of a main building featuring rooms on two levels along with their restaurant (which utilizes fresh produce from their surrounding gardens) along with several independent cabañas that are more villa style. The property served as the perfect outpost to adventure in the surrounding countryside: in my few days there we went paragliding, rafting, and even visited a cacao farm where we witnessed the farm to table process of making chocolate. On property, guests can take part in several fun activities from tours of the gardens, to a coffee tutorial to rum tasting which we had to do one night: did you know that just a little splash of water (ie: melted ice) totally changes the flavor profile of rum?
Top row left to right: Cannúa, with property owners Brian and Santi (GM), inside my cabaña!
Middle row: indoor/outdoor dining, rum tasting!, from on-property farm to table!
Bottom row: It's a bird! It's a plane! It's paraglider Sir.J!!, rafting down the rapids, cacao farm visit!

On to Medellín!

Until about a decade ago, Medellín was one of the most dangerous cities in the world; it is now one of the safest in Latin America. Knowing as a former New Yorker that the 2nd Ave subway took nearly a century to build, it is amazing to see the infrastructure that has gone into this city in under 10 years: subways, the metro cable, new roads and highways have all contributed to this city growing and prospering in such a short time. 
There are lots of beautiful neighborhoods to explore (and even barrio tours of what used to be the most dangerous slums that have now transitioned into vibrant areas filled with street art, food, and music!), delicious food, fun nightlife: and it is so affordable for Americans. Needless to say, Sir.J will come back for another stay!
From left to right: View from Comuna 13 barrio down to Medellín, street art, it isn't Colombia without Arepas!

Your invitation to visit Cannúa!

Experience for yourself what Cannúa is all about! Let us know if you have plans to visit Colombia and the team would be happy to welcome you for:
2 complimentary nights including breakfast daily and dinner one evening
*based on capacity and availability

15% Commission

On all bookings at Cannúa and on any bookings for travel after January 1, 2023 through True Colombia Travel
Cannúa stays include a free coffee workshop OR chocolate tasting
True Colombia Travel itineraries include one pound of organic, locally sourced coffee 
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