Today was such an extraordinary day! A group of English teachers from our host teacher’s school took us to Valle de Cocora–a valley near the village of Salento. It was one of those places that is so beautiful that it cannot really be photographed–but that did not keep me from trying!
The valley was surrounded by steep green hills that had clusters of palmas de cera– Wax Palm trees. They are the tallest palm in the world and can grow up to 60 feet tall!
But it was not just the wax palms and the incredible landscape! The host teachers suggested that we go on a horseback ride. Why not! That sounded like a great idea. The horses were gentle and seemed to know exactly what do do. We started along the valley floor, weaving around the people who were walking and riding their bikes. But then we turned off of the road onto a trail. A steep, rocky, muddy trail into straight into the forest.
This turned out to be a real trust experiment between me and this horse. I tried very hard to pretend that I was not nervous, but I don’t think it worked. The horse seemed to be completely aware of this, and also seemed to be having fun doing things like taking the most narrow and rocky side path, going very close to the other horses and speeding up when we were crossing streams going downhill.
At a certain point I just realized that the horse knew more about where it was going than I did so I stopped worrying and started looking around. I was in a tropical cloud forest. I was seeing some plants that I had never seen before, and others that I had only seen in greenhouses. It was breathtakingly beautiful. Even now I find it hard to believe that I was really there!
Question for kids: Throughout my day I was reminded of when we read The Great Kapok Tree. That book taught us about the importance of taking care of beautiful places. What is the most beautiful place you have ever been?