Untapped potential abounds in the small town of Riosucio in the coffee region of Colombia.
The town has a population of just over 57,000 and is a bit off the beaten path, but adorned with soaring mountain landscapes, beautiful architecture in town, and hilly farmland all around.
You will find lodging options, an unexpectedly diverse restaurant scene, some tourism, and beautiful mountain views. What I really didn’t expect when I visited was a type of zona gourmet (gourmet area), spanning a few blocks in either direction around the San Sebastian park. We found everything from Asian foods to an Italian pizzeria, a vegetarian restaurant, and a nice Vienna-style café.
Several of the surrounding streets branching off the main plazas/parks are foot-traffic only and are shadowed by well-kept molded store-fronts which have endured from another era. If you fancy the small-town life, where everything is within walking distance, then Riosucio is for you!
The town is famous for its Carnival of the Devil which is held every other year. Teams of people parade through the streets in elaborate devil costumes, and visitors come from all over the country to watch and celebrate. The focal points of the festival are outside the two main churches in town. Which has many people wondering, how did such a strong Catholic community create a carnival of the devil?
According to locals, it was created by two local priests from two settlements. The two communities in the area were so bitterly divided that people were saying “end the conflict or the devil will take us all.” So, they got together and created the fiesta to help end the division between the two communities which were having land disputes.
On one side of the town are pastoral rolling hills and small farms producing plantain, coffee, and sugarcane. On the other side of the town, a dramatic mountain shoots up from the road to Pereira. A cross adorns the peak paying homage to the local Catholic community. The mountain ridge is called Cerro el Ingruma. A guide is necessary if you wish to visit the ridge because this is sacred ground, held in high esteem by religious pilgrims and the local indigenous communities.
Riosucio features a temperate climate with an average year-round temperature of 68 F. With an ecosystem of tropical forest, it will never freeze, and most days a light sweater or overshirt is all you need. Be sure to keep an umbrella handy as the mountain regions receive rain frequently.
For full-time residential potential, you will find a sleepy community with low costs, great dining options, and beautiful views of the surrounding farms and mountains.
A typical Colombian-style lunch will cost between $2 and $7 per plate, depending on how hungry you are. For something a bit more gourmet, you will spend $7 to $10 per plate. The cost of rent starts at $100 per month for a simple room rental up to $500 and more per month for top-of-the-line luxury.
I didn’t see any hostels, bike rentals, or organized tourism businesses. This is truly a place for the pioneering type. But for a quiet life on a budget, Riosucio is a great option.