Life in Jardín
By Vicki Kellaway
This is an article from our magazine section. Here is our Jardín destination information.
Colombia has a reputation for chaos – be it the colourful carnivals, the crowded cobbled streets or the cultural energy of the capital, the country is always on the move.
But every now and then, a pocket of peace appears – a place where life is permitted to slow to the pace of a conversation and a cup of coffee. A corner of Colombia where the stresses of modern life refuse to intervene. And nowhere is that truer than in the small town of Jardín, considered by many to be the country’s most beautiful pueblo.
Jardín sits about three hours to the south of the city of Medellín, ringed by the mountains typical of the coffee district and frequently covered in the light mist of the region. That is perhaps why its inhabitants work so hard to ensure the town is famous for its vivid colours, with brightly painted doors and balconies found in red, yellow and blue on every corner.
Above all that colour, dominating the skyline with its dark, neo-gothic outline is the Basilica Menor de la Immaculada Conception – a huge church that imposes its unmissable presence on the square below. But the mountain-framed church, although impressive, is not Jardín’s greatest feature, rather it is the square itself – or the plaza – that really holds the secret to this town.
Every day, dozens of hand painted tables – more reds, yellows and blues – are brought to the square, where vendors and restaurant owners sell their wares. The people of Jardín gather there to exchange their news and gossip over a cup of coffee, filling the plaza with a gentle hustle and bustle that is frequently interrupted by the clatter of horses’ hooves, often ridden by children.
The square itself is immaculate. Residents take a lot of care to keep the fountains, benches and stone-walled rose gardens of the plaza perfect for both their fellow townsfolk and their visitors and they have gradually added lots of small touches, including the pretty street lights which allow the daily activities to extend into the evening.
Many of the people you meet in the town will tell you that Jardín, which was founded when the colonialists swept through the department of Antioquia, has remained untouched for more than 100 years. They are proud of the antique character of the place and do their best to keep it intact, with their whitewashed buildings and carefully planted flower baskets. They are always keen to meet visitors too and a quick chat with a Jardín local will often evolve into an impromptu tour.
Jardín is a world unto itself though, kept well supplied by the farmers in the surrounding countryside who grow, besides their world famous coffee, a range of fruit and vegetables including yuca, grenadilla and bananas. There are also the nearby trout farms, which take advantage of the region’s fast-flowing rivers and provide many a lunch or supper in the pueblo.
The charm of this town lies not in its activities – although there is a small museum and the more active option of hiking and caving – but in its atmosphere. There are numerous cafés, sweet shops and bakeries and, of course, the requisite fresh juices that are so prevalent across Colombia.
It’s a town that can be easily explored on foot – or on the back of a motorcycle taxi if you are feeling too full with all those treats – but not a place to bring hurry or plans or even a guide book. The residents of Jardín will be delighted to receive you, especially knowing that many of you will have spent hours travelling from Medellín. They are at your disposal so relax, enjoy the atmosphere and remember that nothing brightens the world like a steaming, fresh cup of locally-produced coffee – especially when served at a brightly coloured, hand-painted table.
The Colombian Way © 2017
About the writer
Brit Vicki Kellaway earned her stripes as a journalist back in the UK and has now chosen to make a life for herself in Colombia’s capital Bogotá.
Vicki is a regularly published contributor to Bogotá’s The City Paper and is also the wordsmith behind the award winning weblog Banana Skin Flip Flops where she chronicles her travels and insightful musings not only in Colombia but throughout Latin America
Of course, Vicki also writes exclusive articles for Colombian Life. Our online magazine.