El Eje Cafetero: Pereira
Our return flight left really early from Pereira, so the day before our flight, we left Manizales and returned to Pereira. We dropped off our stuff at Hostel Kolibrí and then headed to the Termales de Santa Rosa de Cabal. This was the last thing on our “have-to” list and we were determined to get there even if it was inconvenient. (It was definitely inconvenient.)
We asked for advice from the receptionist at the hostel. She gave us a map and explained how we could find the buses that left for Santa Rosa. She told us to get off the bus at the main plaza in Santa Rosa where we could find another bus which would take us to the termales (hot springs). She warned us that the buses were scarce and we might end up waiting for a while in between buses.
We found the first “bus stop” with no problem and got on the bus to Santa Rosa. We arrived in Santa Rosa and assumed that the main plaza would be easy to spot. We were wrong. We arrived at what was obviously the turning point for the bus to return to Pereira and realized we weren’t quite sure where we were. We asked the bus driver but he just shrugged and told us we had missed the stop.
We saw a large sign that said “Termales” and decided to follow that. We stopped in at a bakery and asked if the buses to the hot springs passed by there. The bakery workers reassured that they passed right by there and were clearly marked, but they weren’t sure when the next bus would arrive. We sat down to wait. After about twenty minutes, the bus arrived and we got on.
We were delighted once we arrived at the hot springs. They really were worth the trip. It cost us about $15/person to get in (peak season prices). We went from pool to pool and also cooled off in the waterfall (which was freezing cold).
Eventually, we decided that we were sufficiently toasty. We headed down to where we could meet the bus. We learned that the next bus wouldn’t arrive for another hour. We grabbed a snack and waited. Eventually, a Jeep arrived and people started piling in. The driver asked us if we wanted to join, but we declined due to the fact that we felt that there wasn’t space. He disagreed, we bartered the price down and we got in. These Jeeps have an open back which allows for more people to sit in the back and others to stand. Sadly, I did not get a picture, but it was similar to this.
At one point on the ride, we had 16 people crammed into the Jeep. It also started to rain with thunder and lightning so the driver kindly stopped and threw a tarp over those of us in the back. There was something rather exhilarating about that ride. For $0.50 USD, I stood in the back of a Jeep in the dark and felt the wind on my face while lightning flashed around me.
We arrived safely in Santa Rosa and caught our bus back to Pereira with no difficulties. We went to bed, tired and content with our time in the coffee region of Colombia.