Driving in Colombia is probably something one gets used to if one lives here. We blast through the countryside in a bus at about 100 km’s an hour, mostly on the wrong side of the road, never mind that there are double yellow lines, or blind curves and large trucks sharing the road. Easier just to shut one’s eyes and hope for the best. We arrive in Armenia at the local bus terminal late afternoon with no idea of where we are spending the night. We are here for the express purpose of learning about Guadua capabilities in the region. At the information desk a 15 year old girl gives us a booklet and Ben immediately selects a hotel from amongst the drab and grey towers, because it seems to be a smaller scale and has bamboo in its construction.
We hit the jackpot! The “hotel” turns out to be more of a family home which just opened as a bed an breakfast about six months ago. Natural stone floors, thick wooden steps, bamboo used everywhere, lots of glass, gorgeous views of the mountains and a beautiful garden which flows into the house. We seem to be the only ones here… They are not exactly looking for customers – as this is their home and they don’t want people here ALL the time. No sign saying “hotel” outside.
The bedrooms and kitchen/dining room have glass on two sides, taking advantage of the beautiful garden and mountain views.
Not only is the family house an architectural and aesthetic treat, but the hill-side property happens to include… a bamboo forest! So after breakfast, we go exploring…
We find out that Marta, the mom, is the one with the artistic eye who built this house, stone by stone, getting guadua bamboo from her own land below and is in fact a landscape architect. Her son, Twingo (28) has just returned from the US to his Colombian home and has many ideas and projects for this new venture in his childhood home – primarily a bar and restaurant right next to the house.
The dinner menu includes fresh macadamia nuts in several dishes. We find out that the family owns a nearby farm on which the grandfather planted 700 macademia trees with seeds he brought from another country. After twelve years of waiting, there are finally nuts to be cracked! They now supply many local stores with fresh macadamia nuts. We certainly have not tasted fresh macademia nuts right out of the shell – tastes like a large pine nut. Heavenly…!
Twingo, takes us to the farm to see the acadamia operations, but on the way, we stop at the local fruit market. Amazing fruit, both in variety and taste.