Valle de Cocora

We visited the Valle de Cocora here in Salento yesterday. This sanctuary is home to ---here I'll let wikipedia tell you:

The area was designated a protected park by the Colombian government in 1985 in response to the imminent threat of extinction of the Ceroxylon quindiuense, the Quindío wax palm. The palms were brought to the verge of extinction in part owing to their utility in making wax candles and building materials for farmers, but most of all because they were traditionally cut down annually for fronds on Palm Sunday. The park remains to this day pretty much the only place in the world that you can find these immense trees which, while quite rare, are no longer under imminent threat.

This place was soooooooo coooool! The wax palms were just massive and reminded me of how small I am in this beautiful world. Mike and I were talking about this last night with some Irish friends--how there is so much to see in this world, don't get caught up in yourself and your bubble. We talked about how when we were back in our jobs and schools, we had this ego that built up around our life like "I deserve that" or "I'm entitled to that" and sure there are things everyone is entitled to like: life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness and clean drinking water.

We all agreed that traveling the world and understanding different cultures breaks down our egos and molds us into better global citizens. Wow such a great conversation. We love meeting new people especially really intelligent people who converse with us for hours!

Our hike up to the Valle was so lush, green and just alive. Everything was SO green--everything. Our Irish friends remarked that it reminded them of home. We hiked up a mountain and over sketchy bridges that took us up into the valley. I read online that it was usually cloudy--sometimes too cloudy to see anything so I was keeping my expectations low.

But when the valley opened up to us we could see the palm trees just fine! And the mist added a mysterious feeling to the giant trees--kinda like in Machu Picchu. 

imitating nature..or trying to haha

This place was so amazing. It blew my mind that we got to just walk underneath these giants for free! It was a beautiful hike and wow it felt so good to sweat and work after traveling in buses for four days.


Time's going too fast......

this was us hiking up to the summit of Pasachoa in Ecuador, an extinct volcano opposite of Cotopaxi. 
We're halfway through our 2 month trip around South America! I'm so sad. But excited to come home. But still sad. Anyway, Mike and I were looking through my posts the other day and ended up re-reading my thoughts on appreciating God's creations by traveling the world. Since traveling around Peru, Ecuador and now Colombia for the last four weeks, Mike and I have seen some of God's greatest creations (I think).  The nature that we've been surrounded with is overwhelming! I've thought about the mountains, jungles, rivers and volcanoes we've traveled to and enjoyed. We've been able to walk, climb, boat and hike to such amazing places that are for the most part untouched by civilization. Basically, I've just fallen more and more in love with beautiful, rugged, raw nature.

I definitely have such a huge desire to travel to Europe and see all the gorgeous art, architecture, cities and history there but that's what man created. I do firmly believe that God inspired all these masterpieces to come into existence and I'm so very excited someday to see them in person. But right now on this specific trip, Mike and I are intent on seeing as many mountains, trees, waterfalls, volcanoes, beaches and rivers as we possible can. It's been so exciting and humbling to climb up waterfalls and volcanoes--I'm so excited for us to explore Colombia and all it's amazing nature!

Amazon Jungle, Ecuador
Paracas, Peru

Amazon Jungle, Ecuador

Colca Canyon, Peru

Banos, Ecuador

Cotopaxi volcano, Ecuador

Amazon Jungle, Ecuador

We've been to many naturally gorgeous places but I have to say, the ruins and cities that we've seen have also been breathtaking. 

Machu Picchu, Peru was a huge highlight because of the beautiful balance of nature and man's creation. 
Quito, Ecuador was such a pretty city. The houses on the hill were painted in pastels and bright colors. These hues contrasted with the gorgeous green that was everywhere--I liked it a lot.
Ollantaytambo, Ecuador was such a cute town. It had an environmental feel to it because it was built right into the mountains and had a river of clear water running throughout the cobblestone streets.



--sorry stupid title but I can't not sing that song every time I say "Salento" Colombia.

Lots has happened in the past couple days. Some bad things like getting on the WRONG bus for 7 hours and having to pay again or being super rushed in our bus station and Mike leaving his credit card in the ATM......................%$$#&$#*$&(*#!!!!@

But also lots of good things like finding our favorite South American fruit flavor, Mora, in yogurts for cheap and eating delicious McDonald's for lunch(why is it SOOOOO GOOD everywhere but the USA? kidding it's still good in America....)

Anyway, we just arrived in Salento this morning at 5AM dead tired. It's so gorgeous here. We walked from our bus to our eco hostel and farm and promptly had a photoshoot.


Mike finna tryna ruin my shot