The Cocora Valley, Colombia

The Cocora Valley, Colombia

What did the tree learn from the earth to be able to talk with the sky?
~ Pablo Neruda


The Cocora Valley in the Coffee Triangle is very beautiful. The national tree of Colombia which is the wax palm grows here up in the clouds (6000-8000 feet above sea level.). They are very skinny, incredibly tall trees – the tallest palm trees in the world. IMG_4372

Wax palms grow up to 200 feet and can live for up to 120 years. The leaves are dark green and gray and the trunk is covered with wax. The wax was used to make soap and candles. The outer part of the stem of the palm has been used locally for building houses, and was used to build water supply systems for farmers. The fruit served as food for cattle and pigs

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For centuries, the Christian worshippers used to cut palm fronds from their wax palm trees to celebrate Palm Sunday, The exploitation of the indigenous people reduced the number of wax palms, prompting the Colombian government to give protection for the remaining trees. In 1985, an edict sponsored by both the Catholic Church and the government, forbid the cutting of wax palm fronds. We hike for a while along a muddy path and rickety bridges which heads up into the Andes. IMG_4417 IMG_4404 IMG_4392 IMG_4398

Lunch is served at the Bosques de Cocora, a countryside restaurant that serves regional cuisine, including the area’s famous trout. IMG_4431

Throughout the coffee triangle you will see Jeep Willys. After WWII, the United States had a surplus of these, which Colombia bought very cheaply. Their durability is great in the coffee region and you can see them in all the towns. IMG_4386

The “Ritual de Palma” is a way to help the continuation of the wax palms. Visitors from 48 countries so far have helped plant future wax palms here. IMG_4439

It would probably have been better without the rain and sprained wrist. I had help. IMG_4446

Someone planted these tall skinny trees a long time ago and I felt connected to those people hoping that in the far future , people will be planting trees  to grow as tall as mine.

Many Thanks to  Alex Rodriguez for showing me the coffee triangle of Colombia  with kindness, knowledge and humor. This is a better and safer job then your past one and you are good at it.


Viaje Con Cuidado,