The name Colombia usually evokes images of the spectacular Andes mountains, the Caribbean beaches of Cartagena and endless coffee plantations. Less favorable images of revolutionary guerrillas toting machine guns and large living drug kingpins unfortunately are also synonymous with the country. Stability has returned to Colombia and it is experiencing an unprecedented boom in tourism. We've decided to visit the colonial city of Popayan to experience its centuries-old Easter Holy Week processions with a bonus trip to my brother's coffee farm. After a 6-hour flight from New York City, we landed high in the Andes Mountains at Bogota's Eldorado Airport. With only a short connection time, we didn't have time to leave the airport and explore the city. We transferred by bus to the domestic terminal and boarded a propeller plane for the one-hour flight through the mountains to Popayan, in the heart of the coffee-growing Cauca region. At an altitude of about 6,000 feet, the region is famed for the quality of its coffee.
After arriving at the small, but very efficient Popayan airport, we were picked up by my brother, Bill Concha, and Fercho, his right hand man at the organic coffee farm, El Robeldal, that they run on the outskirts of the city. It is not a "suburb" like the ones we are used to in the U.S. though. After about 15 minutes of travel on busy city streets, our 4x4 turned into an unpaved road for about 15 minutes of a rocky ride that felt like a scene from an Indiana Jones movie.
Crossing the stream
After such an adventurous beginning, we were delighted to arrive at the 50-acre farm with all its luxuries. Bill and Fercho are in the final stages of opening a high-end coffee guesthouse and we are the lucky guinea pigs! The farm is an oasis that offers a tranquil escape from the stresses of modern life. Best of all, it is close to the beautiful colonial city of Popayan with all its restaurants, museums and other cultural attractions. Still, we feel like we are far away from civilization.
The Robeldal Coffee Farm SML
We are staying in the "Emperor's Suite," with its ensuite stepdown tropical rain shower modelled after the huge chorros or showers that were found in the old colonial mansions of Popayan.
Our luxurious tropical shower
The Emperor Suite