Happy Birthday Salento, 175 years old!
Today is Salento’s 175th birthday! Preparations have been underway for the last week. In fact, it’s pretty much non-stop party and prep for the next wave from the first week of December when “welcome Christmas” kicks off the season. Then the celebration pace increases through New Years.
For most towns, New Years signals the end of the holidays. But for Salento, New Years is just a small “warm-up” party. The main event here is the town’s birthday on January 5th. During December the biggest change I saw was all the pretty lights and decorations. But this past week, these Salento folks really got into serious party mode!
- The entire square is barricaded off to all vehicle traffic (except food/beer deliveries of course!)
- The souvenir vendors have been relocated from their assigned spots to in front of the church. Plus their number has at least quadrupled.
- The standard weekend rows of trout-cooking food vendor trucks plus picnic tables have been transformed to a mini-city. Normally there’s enough room for a couple lanes of traffic in between the rows. But now the tables have doubled and there’s just enough room for walking in between. Plus the entire area has been covered with the most humongous tent structures to keep all the visitors happy, well-fed and dry.
- Every night for the last week loud music has throbbed out from the square all the way to the outskirts of town. The dancing drinking revelers party on through the wee hours of the morning.
- Parking is at a premium. Any local resident with extra space on their property rents it off to the locals coming in for the day.
- The shops, restaurants and strolling streets are totally filled with people. For example, one restaurant I like to go to can seat about 80 people. I always wondered why it had so many tables since I always saw so many empty tables. But I went by a couple days ago, every seat was taken!
Tonight is the big party night!
To tell you the truth I’ve not been out much in the evening party hours, just a brief walk through a few nights ago. But I’ve promised myself to check out the grand finale tonight. I’d like to see what’s going to happen on that stage! I’ll post again tomorrow if I can get some good pics.
I figured this is a good time to share about the town’s symbol. It’s on the walls of some of their buildings and I think it’s quite attractive. I especially liked it because it so accurately represents the town itself.
The seal shows some pretty buildings, the church and the Bolivar statue on the left. And on the right there’s the Quindio river and the Cocora Valley wax palms. That’s clearly Salento — there’s no other place on earth with these!
The words at the top of the seal are “Padre del Quindio”, literally “Father of Quindio”. Quindío is the Department of Colombia where Salento is located. (A Department is just a government subdivision similar to a state or province.) Salento is known as the Padre since it was the very first municipality founded in Quindío. For more interesting reading about Salento’s history, check out the Wikipedia page.
In the post header I’ve put photographs of the real places right next to their symbols. And do note the year at the bottom of the seal – 1842. Happy 175th birthday Salento!