Come along with us and discover the heart of tourism in Pereira, with our La Florida Travel Guide. La Florida is more than a small municipality, it is a special community of artists, creatives and entrepreneurs who have found ways to create their own growing mecca of energy and tourism.

In this two part series we are going to reveal to you what to eat, and where to go – in La Florida.

The La Florida Travel Guide

On the shores of the Rio Otun (Otun River), lies a small community which is considered a part of the city of Pereira.  Yet, it also has a unique identity and special importance to local culture, art and music. In this small unassuming pueblo you will find some great opportunities for conscientious eco-tourism in a way that sets this place apart from the rest of the Coffee Axis.

The exact year La Florida was founded is unknown. The people who came here didn’t put out a decree, proclamation or even a public notice. They simply began clearing acreage and building what would become the community of La Florida. And according to the locals, it was almost 100 years ago.

La Florida Travel Guide

The Rio Otun, is an important tributary for Pereira because this is the water we drink. Help us keep this river clean and natural, please don’t litter in or around it!

Prior to the pueblo, this area was part of an indian trail named “Ruta de Sal” or Salt Route, which connected several indigenous pueblos from Risaralda to Tolima.

There were three families who had a part in the founding of La Florida: Cardona, Geraldo and Torres. Between them the local area was cleared, fields were planted and a small but closely knit community began. These founding families helped to mount the aqueduct infrastructure from which Pereira draws their water today. Schools were built and a church community was begun.

Part I | Art, Food & Music

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The Art of La Florida

The Who and What of Art in La Florida

This community is unique in that, it has an art scene driven by local culture and conservation. William Cardona is one of the local residents who have helped to create and continue to inspire that scene. An artist himself, William has been painting since childhood and has been a resident since birth. Other notable artists on the local scene include Camilo del Mar and Dick Rivas Rincon. Forgive us if we left out any notable artists (and send us a message so we can include them in our projects!).

La Florida Travel Guide

William Cardona, an artist himself, was very kind to help us with much of the history and research for this article. 

Who is Martin Abad Abad?

A local transplant from somewhere else, Martin was much loved and adored in La Florida for his simplistic yet enchanting approach to postmodern art. All his work is inspired by nature, but what many often throw aside – he saw as art. Martin Abad, is one rare example of an outsider that came, meshed with the community and became a part of several projects.

As the story goes, he gave up life in another city of Colombia to go and live as a hermit in the community of La Florida. He would remain in and around this area for over 40 years. Martin has won many prestigious awards both locally and nationally for his art and literature, which were a reflection of the elements, materials and landscape of the world he saw around him.

Unfortunately, Martin passed on in January of 2017 and he will be greatly missed by the community that adopted him all those years ago.

What is La Cuenca?

A local artist community that encourages outside artists to come, propose a project that will benefit the local community – and then do it. They offer a space where sincere artists can come and work their own AND community projects – while being inspired by rural life and nature.

To learn more about the art residence opportunities or get involved in La Cuenca, check out their Facebook page here: facebook.com/RESIDENCIAlLACUENCA/

Artists of La Florida

To learn how you can support the art of La Florida click here:

William Cardona facebook.com/arts.williamcardona/

Camilo Del Mar facebook.com/Camilo-Del-Mar-8611647077/

Dick Rivas Rincon facebook.com/Dick-Rivas-Rincon-834629673367650/

If there are any artists we missed who should be in this list, please feel free to email us at: pereiracityguide@gmail.com

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What to Eat

The signature plates of this community, are “fiambre en hojas de viao” or a type of tamale, and “tortas de trucha“, or trout cakes. They are shaped like a hamburger and served on an arepa. If you have a bigger appetite then you might want to try one of the many preparations for grilled, steamed or fried trout – which are raised locally. Be sure to walk down the hill past Cine Club for a fresh, maiz arepa, served with locally made paramo cheese.

  • Arboloco Cafe & Restaurant: Crepes, Lasagna, Cakes, Gourmet Coffee and Tea facebook.com/ElArboloco/
  • Café Santa Elena: Traditional style coffee & sweets facebook.com/Café-Santa-Elena-1459953680954967/
  • Carbón: Rotisserie Chicken, Hamburgers, Arepa Burgers etc. facebook.com/CarbonLaFlorida/
  • Cine Club: Beer, Music, Coffee & Finger foods. facebook.com/Cineclub-La-Florida-587758918087175/
  • (La Bananera) Bambú: Tipico Colombian Food facebook.com/BambuRestauranteBar14/
  • (La Bananera) Rio y Carbon: Tipico Colombian Food & Argentina Style Steak facebook.com/RioYCarbonSteakHouse/
  • Colombian Tipico Food: Along the main road of La Florida are a variety of restaurants which serve the typical plates of this region. Due to the traditional nature of these restaurants there are no online resources. The best time to eat here is on the weekend when everything is open.
  • Where to Drink: There are limited options for bars and cantinas in this community, and we really don’t recommend this area if you are here to party. We recommend Cine Club for music and beer with friends. The cantina for pool, billiards and beer. And, the fonda for snacks, beer and drunk guys. Tip: If you are a woman who enjoys pool, but feels uncomfortable playing in the male-dominated billiard halls of Pereira, then you will like the cantina here – especially during the day, or during the week.

The Music of La Florida

La Florida Travel Guide

Rubien Pinillo y Los Parranderos

This series would not be complete if we didn’t mention the music and musicians of La Florida. For as many accomplished artists as live out here, there are also some notable musicians.

Musica Parrandera: This style is very romantic, at times energetic and full of Coffee Axis culture and archetypes. The most common time of year to hear this genre is in December, when the Barrio Populares, or popular working class neighborhoods, get together and have big parties. At these events they play this music or invite a band, and eat traditional holiday foods like buñuelos, natilla and Lechona.

Notable Musicians from this region include:

  • Rubien Pinillo y Los Parranderos de La Florida
  • Gustavo “El Jilguero”
  • Orlando Loaiza
  • Dora Libia Pinillo – Cousin to Rubien, she is nationally famous in Colombia and released a successful album in early part of 2017. Her genre is Musica Popular Colombiana.

Best Time of Year to Experience the Music: Every August, you will have the opportunity to see all the local favorites perform at the Feria de Gallo Ornamental. A recommended experience, the Ornamental Rooster festival is a celebration of the Campesino, or country folk traditions. facebook.com/Concurso-de-Fotograf%C3%ADa-Feria-Y-Concurso-Mundial-Del-GALLO-Ornamental/

How to Get There

La Florida Pereira Colombia

To get to La Florida by bus or chiva, go to Plaza Victoria and wait at the covered bus kiosk in front of the Plaza Victoria Centro Comercial shopping complex on Calle 17 by the pedestrian crossing. Busses pass about every 15-20 minutes on weekends and every 20-30 minutes during the week. Cost 1,800 cop each way.

To get there by taxi. Taxi drivers know what “La Florida” is. If you have any doubts, tell them “Cine Club en La Florida” to arrive in the middle of the community where you can eat, go on a hike or take a dip in the river. Cost 20,000+ cop depending on traffic and distance traveled.

To get there by Jeep. Go to Carrera 9 between Calle’s 11, 12 & 13 and ask for a jeep headed to La Florida. Cost will depend on how many people are sharing the jeep. Do not go to this part of the city without body guards. Never go there at night. In fact, take a bus from Plaza Victoria, then negotiate your return destination for Plaza Victoria – you will be much safer.

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Conclusion

This community is paradise, for travelers and day-trippers from the city. To live here, requires a dedication to conservation, sustainability and an appreciation for the value of teamwork. We don’t recommend this area as a residential option for two reasons:

  1. Rain. Rain. Rain. This is one of the most rainy regions on planet Earth. You will have issues with mold, mildew and rot in anything you do. Drainage is an issue and the weather generally stays cooler. At the very least, spend some time volunteering or staying at a hostel to really gain a healthy appreciation for how the weather coming off Nevado del Ruiz works.
  2. Sustainability. This community is not capable of extreme growth both due to available real estate and the local eco system. The whole corridor, is an important environment that provides the water we drink, and a good part of the food we eat here in Pereira. To live here you must be committed to learning how to care for the environment AND work together in cooperation with the local residents.

La Florida is a region of art, music, culture and incomparable biodiversity. Stay with us as we will be bringing you Part II soon where we talk about the natural environment, conservation and local attractions.

Owner/Editor of OpenMindedTraveler.com, Erin is also the Project Administrator/Editor of Pereira City Guide.com - She has been living in Pereira, Colombia for several years.

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