Our next stop in the coffee growing area was a small town in the Andes called Jardin – and what can I say but – it turned out to be WAY BETTER than we could have ever imagined – so much so that we ended up staying in this small town for TWO weeks!
Before arriving we’d read that Jardin was pretty much as it was 140 years… ‘baloney!’ we thought… hadn’t we read similar marketing hype about other places too!?!
Turns out that Jardin really hadn’t changed that much!!! Somehow, in spite of tourism, it had managed to retain its laidback rustic charm… and the colonial architecture hadn’t changed at all – in fact it felt like Jardin was determined to retain its charm as even newer buildings seemed to be built in an old-school style 🙂 Builidings in Jardin were some of the most colourful we had seen on the trip so far – with most buildings on every street adding some kind of colour to the mix – and with each street being equally photogenic. We ended up with way too many pictures of colourful houses by the time we left Jardin!!!
One of the best spots in Jardin was the main square – El Libertador plaza. When it wasn’t raining (it rained a lot in Jardin 🙁 ) we liked sitting on the square – bakery snack in hand – people watching. There was also a pretty cool church on the square and also some small stalls which grew in number at the weekend… but in comparison with Salento it was nothing!!! Jardin retained its small town charm on a weekend too – despite being pretty close to Medellin – a city of around 2.5 million people. On the weekends we made the most of the stalls – farmers came into town to sell fruit, and other sellers sold snacks and drinks. There was a lady with a stall selling obleas (a traditional Colombian snack of wafers filled with your choice of sickly sweet toppings…) – we hadn’t tried them before so got carried away ordering and made the mistake of not asking the price before picking our toppings – we were swiftly ripped off… but as it was too awkward to hand back a ready prepared oblea, we handed over the cash and grumbled to ourselves about our schoolboy error while eating a not so great oblea… Yep, obleas were black-listed and we were back on bakery snacks all the way!!!
In this small town it also felt that the locals hadn’t changed their behaviour a whole heap over the years – in all of the local coffee shops the majority of customers were locals adorning a cowboy hat sipping a tinto (a black coffee – traditional Colombian style)… frequently you would see people riding through town on their horse… or else horses parked up outside coffee shops and bars ready to transport their owner back to their local farm after a catch up with friends!
Being in a coffee growing area it would have been wrong for us not to (over)indulge in the stuff while we were there – so that’s what we did! We ended up not joining a coffee tour – we decided to save that for our next destination – but instead checked out the local coffee varietals available in different coffee shops… In our opinion, Chiroso cafe was the best of the best – and the chiroso coffee varietal is THE BEST THING SINCE SLICED BREAD! 🙂 We tried it prepared in a variety of ways – from V60 to americano – and then in our coffee sock at home… we were addicted 🙂
Staying in an airbnb we didn’t eat out a lot in Jardin – well apart from all the really tasty snacks… but they don’t really count, huh! – BUT when we did eat out it tasted good 🙂 Our favourite place was a local chicken joint that did a pretty good half bandeja (half tray) – they did a bandeja too… but a half sized one was plenty big enough for us!!!
When we weren’t hanging around town – snacking, drinking and people watching – we were out and about strolling in the nearby countryside. The surrounding area of Jardin was pretty spectacular – so much so that the walks we did will get their own posts… BUT even from town there were some pretty good views of the surrounding countryside 🙂 One of the nicest views of the surrounding area was from the balcony of our airbnb – we had many a lovely evening sipping a cold can of dark beer staring out at the rolling hills 🙂
We had a REALLY awesome stay in Jardin – BUT there was one last thing for us to do there – it just didn’t feel right to leave before we’d done this – yep, we needed to have a cold beer at one of the colourful cafes on the main square 🙂