If you head outside of Manizales past the neighborhood of Milan and continue along Via el Cerro de Oro, you'll find a small rural area called Buenavista (translation: Good View - and for good reason). You can take a taxi all the way to Buenavista to maximize your time on the trail, but expect to pay an additional fee for driving out of the city. Once you hit the end of Via al Cerro de Oro right outside of Buenavista, a hiking and mountain biking trail begins, just past the BMX park. When you walk past a small outdoor cafe called El Ciclista, you're very close. The trail is not terribly difficult nor terribly easy; it's not perfectly maintained, but if you can make it to the top, you'll be glad you did.
My first time up this trail, I was the last one up - huffing, puffing, sweating, and struggling to keep up. Can I blame the high altitude? Can I blame the fact that no matter how fit I seem or how many workouts I do in a week, I just positively suck at hiking? Can I blame the humidity? Can I blame the deadlifts the day before? Probably, but I'd be missing the point.
Hiking is brutally honest, and there's no deceiving it; the trail knows if you haven't been on it in a year. No matter how many How to Hike articles you read, the only way to hike well is to hike often. It's a challenge in dedication, like so much in life. And isn't that the worst sometimes? Having to work hard to get good at something, particularly when it appears to come so naturally to others? Some days, it can be painful to embrace growth. It can hurt to stray from what is easy and natural. Hiking teaches me this; traveling teaches me this; living abroad teaches me this, and learning another language definitely teaches me this. And so, when I returned to tackle this trail again - with a pack on and in the rain - it actually felt easier; turns out, the pain was worth the buena vista.