The sign explains the name of the place: Tambo. A tambo was the equivalent of a rest stop on an interstate for coffee farm workers (arriendos) moving from one farm to another. There’s a shack, you have some coffee (or something stronger if the mood strikes you), take the weight off your feet for a while then trundle on to the next job. Obviously the facilities at the modern tourist tambo are quite posh. If you get it into your head to have a myocardial infarction while enjoying the fine views, there’s even an ambulance to provide quick and efficient service to the nearest hospital. The sign on the building says, “A magical route.” All very well and good, but you never know when magic will fail you, so there’s the ambulance at the ready. And believe me, an ambulance driver in Colombia takes no prisoners. The only faster way to get to a healthcare facility is by magic, which if you’re in an ambulance is obviously in short supply. Stick with the Colombian driver, that’s my advice.
The last pic is significant because it reveals the geology of the mountains. Even at this high elevation you see that the composition of the mountain is largely soil, not stone. The area with the black plastic is a landslide site caused by heavy rain. Obviously without a stone substrate to hold things in place soil will soak up rain and start to move. If things weren’t at such a steep pitch that point of soil mechanics might prove less troublesome, but things are at a steep pitch everywhere in the Coffee Triangle and the rain is at times torrential so landslides are a common occurrence. Curiously enough the same was true in the mountains of Panay where I lived in the Philippines. I come from a place in the States where mountains are huge chunks of granite thrust up into the air by the collision of tectonic plates. Soil is no more than a thin layer on top of solid rock, so the word “landslide” never enters our vocabulary in a practical sense. In the Coffee Triangle the word obviously needs to be taken seriously. The pic is clear evidence of that fact.
Let me get one thing out of the way at this early point in the post. The major claim to fame of Santa Rosa is hot springs (termales in Spanish), the main reason most people find Santa Rosa a Big Deal. Some add in the local sausage (chorizo santarrosano), but that’s kind of an afterthought. The hot springs are definitely the major attraction and they’re 20km outside the town, so some people sail through the town without stopping as they head to the termales. I haven’t been there and don’t have any plans to go in the near future. The pics are lovely but it costs a goodly amount to get in and it’s a family place so there are tons of rugrats running around screaming. Homey don’t play that. My experience of Santa Rosa involves the town and the splendid countryside surrounding it. After nearly a month in busy, noisy Pereira going to a town where in five minutes you’re out in rural countryside was a blessing. The countryside was my major focus. Consider that a heads up for the pics you’ll see below. So no termales here, sorry, kids. You can get pics enough of them on Google if those are your druthers. There are videoblogs of visits to the hot springs on YouTube, too, if that takes your fancy. I’m useless to you in that regard and will likely remain so for a good while.
I did give due attention to the town itself. It’s an example of what happens to a standard-issue colonial town that goes suburban. The other towns I’ve visited have not gone through that transformation because they’re too far away from a city. Santa Rosa is 20 minutes from Pereira so it’s within its urban gravitation range. You can tell that immediately from the pics of the town square, with high-rise office buildings well in view, something you’d never see in a million years in a place like Filandia or Marsella. Here’s the evidence: