By now, you might be sick of hearing about small colonial towns, and at some point, you would think we would get tired of visiting them. Well, even after all the other colonial towns, Jardin did not disappoint. In fact, I think we both agree that Jardin has been our favorite stop (and that is saying A LOT!).
Jardin is about a 3.5 hour bus ride from Medellin. It was a beautiful and twisty drive through coffee plant covered hills and dense forests. Unfortunately, our minibus driver was trying to break a speed record around the turns, and we spent most of the drive trying to stay in our seats and not get sick.
We arrived in Jardin on a Sunday afternoon, and experience in other towns has taught us that Sundays are always the busiest days. Many people from the neighboring areas come to town to socialize, go to church, and drink. We stepped out of the bus and it was like we had stepped of the DeLorean and went back in time.
We were greeted by a beautiful square filled with trees and a striking church at one end. Men dressed in ponchos and cowboy hats were enjoying coffee (or something a little stronger) and sitting in the hand painted chairs of the outdoor cafes. Horses were tied up in various places, church bells tolled, coffee was sipped, music was pumping, children were playing, and instantly, we were in love with Jardin.
We wandered through the square till we found Fami Hotel, which was near the church and literally right on the square. Our room was nice, and the balcony was an spectacular place to spend time watching the action in the town. With as much as Colombians love their music, and the many early church bells (5 am!), it was a bit loud, but we always felt a part of the activity.
The hotel was run by Roberto, a very nice Colombian man, who seemed to treat us like his children. We never had a need that went unmet. He would insist on bringing us beer or tinto (Colombian coffee with sugar), he would be our wake up call for early mornings, and he even went with me to the bus company office to help us figure out how to get to our next destination.
The pueblo of Jardin is centered around a large leafy town square which is surrounded by coffee shops on all sides. This square is so amazing that it has actually been recognized as a Colombian National Monument. This town is located in the coffee region and many of our days were spent sitting around the square enjoying (several) 30 cent cups of coffee while playing cards and people watching.
One of the most entertaining things about being in this town was watching the men ride in on their horses. The thundering sound of hooves alerted everyone of their arrivals. They would roll into town, like guys in muscle cars, and have their horses quick step around to show off for all to see. After a bit of showmanship, they would “park” at their favorite coffee shop/bar for a drink. Sometimes the horses snuggled up to the table and looked like they were enjoying a drink too.
We didn’t spend all our time drinking coffee and people watching, although in our opinion, that is an excellent use of time. We couldn’t get enough gondola time in Medellin, so we decided to take Jardin’s for a spin. This gondola wasn’t quite as intricate as the one in the city, but it got the job done. Jardin’s aging singular gondola lifts you up a nearby hill for great views of the pueblo below.
As you are riding up, you see the rare Colombian coffee plants covering the steep hillsides along with much taller banana trees.
The gondola lets you off at a great viewpoint with a little bar to sit and enjoy the scene. I think this bar may have one of the best views in the world.
Not to be outdone by the coffee, Jardin also has many different trout farms. It seems like the lush green hills and clean flowing water are a perfect match for trout and man to do battle. We ventured out to one of these little establishments to see what we could learn. We were greeted by rows of flowing water stuffed with rainbow trout of all different sizes.
For more fun at the trout farm they offer fishing as an activity. Basically they have two pools stocked with fish for the tourists to “try” to catch. Once you landed a fish, they cleaned it for you and cooked it as your lunch. This was our kind of fishing: limited work and guaranteed reward. Luck was on our side, and we both landed a monster.
Truthfully, Kristen caught the bigger fish, but Joe says he selected his for taste potential over size. We enjoyed the trout lunch while watching others try their luck.
Jardin really feels like a town from the past. From the horse riding in the town square, to saying “Buenos Dias” to everyone, to people sitting and enjoying coffee for hours, we really loved it all. Just as in the rest of Colombia, the people could not have been any more friendly, and especially to the only two Gringos in town. It was nice to get a taste of small town living in a genuine pueblo.
More to come from Jardin, including our six-hour horse ride and the most dangerous thing we have done in Colombia.