Although Pijao may have been avoided by travelers just a year ago due to FARC activity in the area, the situation has improved immensely and the city now sees more and more foreigners passing through. Located 31 kilometers (19.3 mi) from Armenia, Pijaoâ€”named after the indigenous tribe that populated the area prior to the arrival of the Spanishâ€”is a small agricultural city of 10,149 inhabitants.
Interestingly, Pijao is one of two cities (the other being Marsella) in Colombia at the center of the countryâ€™s Slow Food movement. Slow Food, an international movement that began in Italy in 1986, rejects agricultural globalization and fast food culture while favoring organic, locally grown food. Furthermore, in June of 2010, Pijao became the first Latin American city to be certified as a Cittaslow, or Slow City, an offshoot of the Slow Food movement. As a Slow City, Pijao residents have committed themselves to slowing down their pace of living, decreasing environmental degradation, preserving their culture, promoting sustainable tourism and educating future generations on ecological topics.
The city itself doesnâ€™t offer much to tourists beyond walking around and soaking in the local culture and architecture. However, there are hiking and biking opportunities, waterfalls and traditional coffee farms to visit on its outskirts, making Pijao a relaxing place to stop while in the region.
If youâ€™d like to spend the night in Pijao, try Hostal Las Nubes (Rooms: $10-30. Ca. 11, 5-81. Cel: 312-825-5613, E-mail: email@example.com), run by the hospitable MÃ³nica FlÃ³res, who was at the forefront of securing Pijaoâ€™s Slow City certification. The hostel, which can hold 10 people, has a kitchen, a garden, bike rental and free coffee throughout the day.
I am a curious, passionate and free-spirited travel writer, currently working as a Staff Writer and Editor for V!VA. Shortly after...