Today, we went to Salento which is a picturesque town up in the hills, a one hour bus journey from Pereira. We (Nini, Sofia, Brandon, Luisa and her two children) all met at the bus station and I paid for all of us. 35 mils which by now you will know is just over 10 euros. So you can see why I am happy to pay for theses things. They have very little money and the euros that I bring here has great value.
There are dozens of arts and crafts shops, that is what Salento is famous for.
We were approached by a not-very-smart guy with a mobile phone offering horse riding. Nini started negotiating with him but I felt uncomfortable about it. Mainly because I felt I was at risk of losing control of the situation. So I said, "no". I wanted to see a kiosk, literature, a map. Lots of long faces! We walked back to the square and to the coffee shop where we had been earlier. The family sat outside and I went in and asked about horse-riding. And there in the shop was a guy, a regular, wearing riding boots, professional looking. Perfect! I soon agreed a price and he led us across town to the stables where he ran his company. The two young girls sat in front of their mothers and young Sebastian had his own horse. Nini had never ridden a horse before but it was obvious that Brandon had ridden before because he was always charging ahead but with little Estefania in his lap.
We trekked up a road and then along a path up the side of a hill. The views were wonderful. We stopped at a waterfall to take photos and then turned around back down the road. In the distance
was an ominous curtain of rain and it was coming our way. So the last 25 minutes of our trek were under a downpour. Each horse was equipped with a cape which kept the top part of us dry but I could feel the water running down my trousers into my shoes. Poor little Estefania was not very happy, hidden under her mother's cape.
It was ironic because I was wearing my Mulla't tee shirt. Mulla't is catalan for "get yourself wet" but it actually refers to a swimming pool and not a rain storm.
When we got back into town, we dismounted at the first restuarant we came to and our guide led all the horses back to the stable. We had lunch together and guess who paid? My dear friends have very little money so I don't mind. That is what I intended. I am sharing my good fortune which actually dates back to the 80s and 90s when my pension pot was increasing at a regular pace. And when I reached 60, the annuity rates were very generous by today's standards so my two private pensions were pegged to about £700 per month, for the rest of my life. Add to that, my State Pension and the exchange rate between the euro and the Colombian peso and you will see that I am very happy to support my family in Colombia, just as I do in Ukraine and the Philippines.
After the meal, we wandered around the shops and then caught the bus back to Pereira. We had pre-booked just to make sure we had places.