Taparcal

Just 15 minutes from Belén de Umbría is Taparcal. It’s a tiny little village set beautifully on a small mountain ridge with incredible views in every direction. It’s located within the UNESCO World Heritage listed Coffee Cultural Landscape of Colombia.

The view from Taparcal, Belén de Umbría, Risaralda, Colombia

The view from Taparcal

The view from Taparcal, Belén de Umbría, Risaralda, Colombia

The view from Taparcal

I teach at the high school in Taparcal every Thursday with an English teacher named Alberto. He runs his classes with a very different atmosphere than my school in Belén – much more relaxed and informal. Some days, I play football with the students or they sing songs. Other days, the classes look at my travel pictures and talk about them. Alberto lived in Santa Barbara, California, for a few years in the 1980s and speaks English like a native speaker with almost no accent.

The school in Taparcal, Belén de Umbría, Risaralda, Colombia

The school

The school has a dramatic setting among coffee plantations and plantain trees. I see the color green in every direction I look.

The school in Taparcal, Belén de Umbría, Risaralda, Colombia

The school

My favorite thing about the school is the gazebo. We often have class under the gazebo, sitting in a circle and talking. It’s a lot of fun and the students always feel relaxed.

The school in Taparcal, Belén de Umbría, Risaralda, Colombia

The school

For lunch, I eat at the house of a woman named Luciela. It’s a short walk from the school. She makes incredible food with the freshest ingredients possible. She has her own farm in her backyard. She serves me the freshest plantains and avocados, huge meals with beef or fish, salad, rice and beans, and soup. She makes mazamorra with milk directly from her cow. I always look forward to Thursdays because I know I will have the best meal of my week at Luciela’s house.

Walking to Luciela's house in Taparcal, Belén de Umbría, Risaralda, Colombia

Walking to Luciela’s house

Lunch at Luciela's house in Taparcal, Belén de Umbría, Risaralda, Colombia

Lunch at Luciela’s house

Lunch at Luciela's house in Taparcal, Belén de Umbría, Risaralda, Colombia

Lunch at Luciela’s house

In the afternoons after school is finished, I teach an English lesson to the teachers who want to learn English. They are very dedicated and improve quickly. Sometimes, the best English students in the school join the class and help the teachers. It’s a great learning environment for everyone.

With some of my students in Taparcal, Belén de Umbría, Risaralda, Colombia

With some of my students

A short walk from the school is a small plaza with a garden where I like to sit and sometimes wait for the bus back to Belén. It’s a peaceful little place with good views of the landscape and town.

Placita El Alto in Taparcal, Belén de Umbría, Risaralda, Colombia

Placita El Alto

Placita El Alto in Taparcal, Belén de Umbría, Risaralda, Colombia

Placita El Alto

Placita El Alto in Taparcal, Belén de Umbría, Risaralda, Colombia

Placita El Alto

It’s possible to get to Taparcal using a local Cootransbel bus from the bus terminal in Belén. The ride costs COP$1,600.

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