I visited a bunch of different cities, towns, and pueblos in the Colombian coffee area but one stands out and I think deserves its own story. Salento is a pueblo of approximately 9,000 people located in the corner of the Quindio department. They've done a great job making the town look and feel nice by keeping it clean and painting many of the colonial-style buildings, like these in the main plaza, in bright colors:
The highlight of Salento is a nice (slightly-touristy-in-a-good-way) street that runs about four blocks or so. This is the end of the street near the plaza:
Salento has an interesting history in that its first residents were prisoners who were used to upgrade the road through the area during the early 1800s. The area where the town is located was on a key route between Bogota and the western areas of the country. Then-president Bolivar mandated that the road be better maintained and upgraded due to its importance. Prisoners were brought in to do the work and many of their families followed. Once the prisoners were done with their sentences they were each given a piece of land in the area.
Many of the town's buildings are very cool on the outside as well as on the inside. There's lots of detail work and the people in the town aren't afraid of using color. I took this photo of the interior of a pool hall both to show some of the details as well as for my friend Dave who's a crack pool player:
At the other end of the main street is a very nice lookout point. As a bonus during your climb up the five sets of steps, you get to read the Ten Commandments, each posted on its own tomb-stone-looking block:
The reward for your climb, other than your free refresher on the Big 10, is a great view of the town and the valley that runs below it.
I loved all the brightly-painted buildings. I could see that the people in the town are very proud of what they have as lots of the buildings are well maintained. Here's one of the residential blocks where you can see three different restored houses:
One interesting house that I saw was this one that's made almost entirely from bamboo. The floor joists were whole bamboo and you can easily see that the siding is too. I don't think it works particularly well to keep mosquitoes out but it's definitely green and looks cool.
Salento's a very nice town to visit. It's one of the few places in the area where I saw more than one or two non-Colombian tourists. The climate is almost perfect and the architecture and views are worth checking out. I can understand why the prisoners chose to stay and make their homes here.