Deciding to split up from Phil and Kelly happened very quickly, but it had been building up for a while.
On my last morning in Medellin (2nd October 2013) the three of us were planning to go climb a big rock in a town outside of Medellin. Because it was out of town, and we'd been in Medellin for over a week, I thought it made sense to pack up, and head south after climbing the rock. I suggested this to Phil and his response was "I don't feel like packing my bike, let's just come back here and leave Medellin tomorrow".
I don't consider packing our sparse belongings any great ordeal, and after our time in Monteria, I was fed up of Phil's desires dictating everything we did and when we did it. Something inside me snapped, and I told him he could do whatever he wanted, I was going to head down into Colombia's famous coffee region.
I was furious, and very sad, as I packed my bags. I had always hoped it wouldn't come to us wanting to split up, but I had also promised myself not to stay with Phil just to keep the peace when I wasn't enjoying myself. He had Kelly with him therefore I didn't feel any guilt about heading a different direction. It's strange how I have no problem travelling on my own, but I don't like to leave Phil travelling by himself. Maybe because I'm his older sister and feel quite protective of him.
As I packed I decided that not only was I going to leave Medellin that morning, but I was going to choose a route through Colombia that I would enjoy, and Phil could come meet up with me whenever he was ready. He wanted to go to Bogota to meet some frisbee playing friends of friends, and everyone I had spoken to had only negative things to say about Bogota, so I decided to skip Bogota and the long ride there and back. Everyone I had spoken to had highly recommended the "Eje Cafetero", the coffee region, which was on the way to Ecuador, and that is where I decided to spend my time.
I tearfully told Phil this, crying being an embarrassing side effect of being angry. I was so upset that I decided to skip the big rock and just head straight to Manizales. I didn't feel like hanging out with Phil that day.
The ride to Manizales was beautiful. Once I was on the road I started calming down and really enjoyed going at my own pace, with music playing through my Sena headset.
I found the Mountain House hostel, and they let me park in their garage/restaurant. I had an eight bed dorm to myself. (A nice change to the thin mattress on the floor I'd been sleeping on for the past week!) I spent the evening doing sink laundry and chatting with other guests in the hostel. We haven't stayed in many hostels, but I always enjoy meeting other travellers and hearing about their journeys.
The next morning I woke up to rain. I booked a coffee tour for the next day when Phil and Kelly would join me and I settled into the lounge area, enjoying the unlimited free coffee and good wifi connection.
This man had some kittens, in a bag. He tried to sell us one.
Kelly and Phil arrived late in the afternoon, and we headed out into town for dinner. Since Kelly joined us there there has often been some amount of conflict at meal time. Phil is looking for a large amount of food at the lowest possible price. Kelly wants nice, good quality food, served in a pleasant environment, and is willing to pay more for it. I fit somewhere in the middle.
I don't mind eating cheap set menus, they are usually quite edible, and sometimes even very good. But I also enjoy eating more "gourmet" food, and I do not have a requirement for a huge plate of food like Phil does. That evening Phil "lost" the argument, and we went to a nice Italian restaurant. We stopped at a grocery store and Phil cooked himself a second dinner when we got back to the hostel.
Not shown, the unpleasant smell of 3 damp motorcycle travellers
The next day we were up early for the coffee tour at Hacienda Venecia. They picked us up from the hostel and drove us to the plantation, where we were given a full history of coffee, and sorted, peeled, then roasted our own little piles of coffee beans. The man running the tour gave me a look of death when I asked for sugar. Oops.
Learning where different coffee comes from
Phil finds a new place to tie his wristband
All the possible flavours in your coffee
Kelly sorts her beans
Kelly sampling our freshly sorted and roasted coffee
The red bean is how it grows, we sucked the sweet pulp off the bean, which is then dried, once dried one peels the shell off, and then it is roasted.
The talk was nearly finished when an English-speaking guy and his Colombian girlfriend showed up. The leader asked Phil to explain what they'd missed. Phil rose to the challenge, and did a better job at explaining it all than the "professional".
Coffee Guide Phil
Phil enjoys the roasting aromas
After another cup of coffee, our guide took us on a tour of the plantation. The tour up to this point had been very interesting and well structured. All that ended when we left our classroom. We followed the guide in silence as he walked us up to the processing plant.
Coffee beans growing
Watching the coffee beans dry
Phil feels the heat of the coffee bean driers.
Our guide filling a bag of coffee beans for export
Ready to be sealed and shipped
He didn't explain much about the fields or the plants. In the coffee bean washing, drying and bagging area he was only slightly more talkative, and then led us to the hacienda itself.
In case we forgot where we were.
Apparently they grow coffee and keep peacocks at the plantation
The Hacienda, or main plantation house
Phil chills in a hammock on the hacienda balcony
At this point we were left to wander around the old house, and enjoy the hummingbirds and oranges.
Flying in for a drink
Spot the hummingbird
We were very hungry as it was lunchtime, and had been told lunch would be available, but there was no sign of anywhere to procure this lunch. There was a cooking class taking place in a kitchen, but it was not for us. It was disappointing to end what had started out as a good tour on a bit of a low note.
This butterfly loved the colour blue, and had a racing number on its wings!
Did I mention we were hungry?
In the jeep leaving the coffee plantation
We ate lunch as soon as we were dropped back at our hostel. That afternoon we were chatting on facebook to our Australian motorcycling friend Tom who we had met in Cartagena. He was nearby and he and I arranged to meet at the Santa Rosa hot springs the next day, while Phil and Kelly headed towards Bogota.
After a day of being reunited, the Ultimate Ride team split up again, this time for much longer.