Copacabana & Girardota Trout Farm – Colombia
On November 22nd I decided to make a trip to see the town of Copacabana (Copa). I have been to Copacabana in Brazil and I was quite sure this was not going to be anything close to Brazil, but the curiosity got the best of me, since they had the same name. There was no great reason I choose Copacabana beside the name. Well actually I had heard a few months ago that there was a trout farm somewhere North of Bello, but the person did not have any specifics. I figured Copa might be in the same vicinity.
I got to Copacabana by taking the metro to the last stop in Niquia. From there I took a bus to Copa. I was only a 20 minute ride. I had no idea where I was going, therefore I asked the driver to drop me in the center of the town by the church. I knew all these towns have a park and a church in the center.
It was around 10am when I got on the bus and there were only about 10 people on the bus. As we entered the town people began to exit and I found myself alone on the bus. I was still in Copa from looking at the signs but I was beginning to feel maybe I should ask the driver if I missed my stop. I assume he might have forgotten about me and I was correct. I actually passed the center of town and we were making a circle to go back around to exit the town. As I expected he forgot to inform me of the stop, but I was still safe. when we circled around he dropped me off and told me the park was about 3 blocks straight up this street. The bus did not actually go to the center of town.
I actually had a very interesting first 10 minutes in the town. As I reached the park in the center of town I immediately began taking videos of the surrounding area which included the shops, park and church. I did not realize there was a police station close to the park. As I was filming a police officer approached me and put his hands over the lens and asked me to stop. Actually for the first few seconds I did not realize what he was saying until he pointed to the police station, then I got it. I did not know how serious he was going to take this violation therefore I immediately played the “stupid American”. I apologized and stop filming. I began taking only fotos while I was around the park and close to the police station.
I had gone to San Pedro on a Sunday and there was not too much activity, therefore I wanted to go to Coca on a Friday or Saturday. I figured midday Friday was ideal and it was perfect. There was a lot of activity but not too much. I did the usual tour of various streets and took videos around town. Obviously I got a ton of stares carrying an expensive Nikon on my neck, but people basically just went on their way. I did wonder into a few parts of the town which were pretty vacant and since I was not sure how safe it was I hurried back to the center.
After about 45 minutes of walking around I remembered the trout farm. I asked a few people if they knew the location of the farm and noone really knew what I was talking about. I finally found an old man in the large grocery store when I stopped to get water and he knew where the farm was located. However, he said the farm was not in Coca. The farm was in Girardota, which was about 20 minutes by taxi. He said the cost would be around $25,000 COP. I was not going to just take any yellow taxi that distance and end up paying $40,000 COP or more (one way). I decided to head to the police station and ask again about the location of the farm and the best way to get to the farm. Believe it or not none of the officers knew anything about the trout farm. One officer finally reached out to another lady in the station and she began to ask one of the men who was by a car by the circle. She returned and told me the farm was in Girardota and the driver in the blue car would take me for $25,000 COP.
Obviously I began to think about the “Gringo pricing”. I asked her if that was the Gringo price and laughed. She said I could take the yellow taxi with the meter but I would end up paying a lot more. I began to negotiate with the driver and he gave me a round trip price of $40,000 COP ($14 USD). I figure what the hell I am already out in these parts why not pay the $40,000 and go see the farm.
The ride was actually pretty far. We had to head further North away from Medellin. We took the highway and reached Girardota then we had to go through the town and exit and head to the country side (campo). Girardota was actually a pretty large town. It was definitely larger than Coca. We headed out of town and through the hills and up some country roads. The roads began to get bad in some areas. The driver had to ask directions a few times but were definitely heading in the right directions. We finally saw a few signs for the Trout farm and knew we were close.
The farm was pretty neat. I had been to a trout farm before in the Smokey mountains of North Carolina. It was on an Indian reservations. It was the same basis set up. The driver and I made our way down to the nursery and trout holding area before the trout are actually released into to lake. It was very interesting. It was a Friday therefore the farm was pretty empty. There was only about 3 families in the park and no one was fishing. I assume they already caught their fish and gave them to the cook because the cook was busy cooking away. I got a nice video of him cooking the trout and green plantain. Nice man. He smiled for a few fotos.
I took photos and videos of the operation. The only mistake I had was not taking my microphone for my camera. The driver held my Nikon as I spoke about the farm but the internal microphone on the came is not very good. I did my best to raise my voice but next time I need to remember to take the external microphone. There were some pretty large trout in the lake. I need to return another day with my cooler and take home a few. Sounds good but it is a good trip to take just to get a few trout. I will have to think about that carefully.
I returned to Copa but the next time I make this trip I will take a bus directly to Girardota and them a taxi to the farm. It will be a lot cheaper.
I was pretty satisfied with the driver and the overall experience therefore I gave the drive a $10,000 COP ($3.51 USD) tip (total $50,000). He looked shocked and happy. On the way back to Copa as we left the highway and head into town the driver showed me a large cross on a hill outside of Copa and tried to get me to take the trip to see the cross. I am sure I could have seen the cross for the extra $10,000, but I was too tired and hungry. I told him my friend was waiting for me in Medellin for lunch at 1pm. I would have to circle back for that trip another day. It is important to note that its not customary for people to tip taxi drivers. They really do not receive tips from Colombians.
I was heading for the metro bus back to Bello when I passed this nice expensive looking restaurant. People in the restaurant were not looking too poor. It was an expensive restaurant. I passed it and circled back twice. I was not sure I wanted to spend $30,000 COP or more for lunch. I finally decided what the hell. I was very hungry and the food was probably going to be a lot better than a cheap restaurant. I had the usual pollo (see foto) and it was very good. I made the correct decision. I added some water with gas and the entire bill was about $26,000 COP ($9 USD) with the tip.
It was a good experience. I look forward to the next trip. I will have to do some research and figure out where is next.
If any of you readers have any ideas of where I should head next please add it to the comment section below. Thanks for reading my blog.