Jardín, Colombia only recently started to appear on guidebooks like Lonely Planet. In the past, only a few travelers have blogged about it. They call it an undiscovered beautiful little town where travelers will most likely see very few gringos. It promised to be an authentic experience, just a couple of hours from Medellin.
JARDIN TOWN CENTER
Our bus stopped at the Jardín town square, at the center of town. It is paved with cobblestones and adorned with large trees offering shade from the hot afternoon sun. At its center stands a water fountain. It was not operational when we were there, but it was filled with doves cooing and chasing each other. The males puffed themselves up, but then they’d get rejected and walk off dejectedly.
A large cathedral looms at the northeast end of the square. It is allegedly “made of sin.” Locals hand-carved stone, quarried in the foothills of Jardín, to construct the cathedral. During the initial construction, the town priest asked the town folks to bring in stones that were the “weight of their sins” to atone for wrongdoing. It must have been a lively town – the cathedral is massive.
DISCOVERED, BUT BEAUTIFUL
Jardín is indeed a beautiful, small town, but undiscovered it is not. There was not an overabundance of backpackers but there were quite a few when we were there. There were also many tourists from nearby cities.
Walking around town I was enamored by the colorful frontage of the homes, the precise woodwork of window grills, the new construction, and something else… we came here to enjoy the ambiance of a little town and we got exactly that, but to a near perfection that it drove us to the edge of skepticism. It all felt just a little too contrived. Is it possible that the town knows it has been discovered and they have upgraded the facade of the inner squares to portray a quaint, beautiful, little mountain town?
THE BEAUTY OUTSIDE
Then one afternoon we walked out of town. The narrow country roads and trails took us up and down the surrounding mountains and the beauty that lay before us was breathtaking. We navigated through the mountainside and continued to stop in amazement at the near-vertical plantations on the steep mountain slopes.
The fitness level required to maintain and harvest these gardens, coffee and banana groves continually impresses me.
Viewing the town from a nearby mountainside further portrayed that small mountain village with the almost-too-huge cathedral in the center. You can truly see how small it is.
We reflected on the past few days that we’ve spent walking around town, people-watching in the town square, and hiking the surrounding mountains. It included a lot of men wearing hats walking around or hanging out on the park benches or the chairs outside of bars and cafes. The normal life of women in their Sunday dresses having coffee and chatting in and outside of cafes, and children running around the streets. It is the laid-back attitude. They are going about their daily lives without a hint of being self-conscious about it. It is that which cannot be made up.
This town truly is the authentic, small-town gem. For us, the most beautiful part of the gem is the stone setting. The natural beauty of the valley and surrounding mountains in which the town is set is a masterpiece. No matter how well we are able to build homes, cathedrals, and villages, nothing can surpass the work of The Great Artist.
10 thoughts on “The Undiscovered Jardin?”
Oh my word!!!!!!!!! I am in love with this town. The scenery that you posted and pictures of the cathedral were absolutely mind boggling and gorgeous!
This is a beautiful little town with gorgeous mountains and Colombia is much safer than it used to be. 🙂
A beautiful town and countryside. Never knew much about Columbia outside the stereotype portrayed in sitcoms and movies.
Before this I’ll I really knew was what I heard during the Narco wars in the 80’s and 90’s. There are still some paramilitary groups, but it is much safer than it used to be.
Hi! I just heard about your story in the Choose FI podcast today. Very inspiring!
I’m impressed by how much of Colombia you have explored 🙂 This is my home country so I’m always glad to see people from other countries who are able to get over the stigma created in the 80s and 90s and actually visit and see for themselves 🙂
Have you been to Parque Tayrona near Santa Marta?
Thank you for listening!
Yes, we visited Parque Tayrona, it was HOT but very beautiful. We really did love our time in Colombia and were so impressed with the transformation especially in Medellin. We felt safe and welcomed.
Are you still living in Colombia?
I currently live in the US (NC), but Colombia is definitely a place we can see ourselves post FI, and we’ll be visiting in May!
Medellin is beautiful, can’t beat the weather. Most of my family is in Bogota, but as much as I like Bogota, not sure I’d want to settle there long term, traffic is terrible, but I suppose that doesn’t matter much if you don’t have a traditional commute.
Bucaramanga is also one of my favorite cities, can also see myself there long term.
How did you travel within Colombia? Most foreigners don’t like to take the bus, and flights are not necessarily cheap like they are in Europe. Any tips for convincing more of my American friends to visit?
I suppose your blog would be a great starting point 🙂
NC is beautiful as well. We lived there that last few years of our careers before taking off to travel.
We took one flight from Cartagena to Medellin because it was cheaper than the bus. The rest of the time we used the bus and didn’t have a problem.
We would have stayed in Colombia for longer than three months if our visa wasn’t running out. We really loved it. Almost all other travelers we meet that have visited Colombia also really love it. I’ve tried to entice my friends to visit Colombia as well by writing about it. 🙂
Small world! That’s true, once people go they usually love it. Getting them to go is the hard part. Your blog is a great resource in making that possible so I’ll be sending people to it 🙂
If you find yourself back in the Raleigh area, let me know, would love to meet you and your husband in person. We also have an active Choose FI group here and do meet ups every now and then 🙂
Thank you for sharing the blog around. We will be in Raleigh in April. I’d love to attend one of the ChooseFI meetups there.