Coffee Culture

We needed a break from the grit of the city, so Friday morning we hired a car to drive us 3 hours through the Antioquian mountains to the village of Jardin, in Colombia’s famed coffee country. The roads were windy, the driver was jerky, and I made the mistake of attempting to study spanish en route… the trip turned stomachs better than pages.
But Jardin was lovely and a stroll was good medicine. Dropping our bags and packs at our IMG_9263rustic lodge at the south end of town, we strolled back down the hill and soon enough were at Jardin’s plaza – anchored by a massive basilica and refreshingly devoid of smog, bricks and tourists. There are cars here, but the main forms of transportation are moto-taxis (same as the Tuk-Tuks of Indochina), jeeps, land rovers and horses. The last three are necessary because coffee-clad mountainsides are ridiculously steep.

We found a quaint lunch spot a block off the square, and while the boys and I waited for food Sue wandered back over to shoot the breeze and some photos with the local Caballeros. After lunch we strolled east to the base of a cable car that brought us across a canyon and up to the fincas on Jardin’s east slope. After taking in the view we wandered up a trail past a modesthome and entered the lush slopes among the banana and coffee plantings. Ben found a leaf which might have served as someone’s umbrella, so we left it after his photo-shoot and continued on up the hill.

Pajaros serenaded us along our way – birding is big sport here. Sue and I might have strolled on for hours but our Boys grew impatient, so we worked our way back to town and sent the boys home while we strolled on through the town.

We had a full Saturday, so set off to preview and plan our coffee adventures. The tourist
office just off the plaza was helpful and provided some tips for hiking, birding, horse
riding and coffee farm visits… I wanted a second opinion so we descended through Jardin’s IMG_9354relaxed bustle towards Hostal Condor de Los Andes. En route the rich, comforting scent of coffee drew us to the region’s coffee collective – a warehouse where all the fincas’ beans are
weighed, stored and presumably consigned for IMG_3487sale. Imagine standing in a warehouse stacked 30’ high with coffee beans – yum.
The hostel had relocated to the town center, so we hailed a mototaxi. He ran a quick errand, turned back uphill, cranked up Hotel California (his luggage rack held 4 big speakers and a subwoofer) and we jammed back to town. We found the Condor de Los Andes… they connected us with Jaime, who owned a small local finca and gave comprehensive tours. We agreed to meet at the town square later that evening to discuss a tour. Then to wrap our travel planning Sue ran a menu check on the local italian spot and I found the bus station and checked our alternatives for returning to Medellin… a big bus departing at 3 or 5PM saturday for 25,000 COP each (~$8) would do. Hopping a moto-taxi back to our lodging, we scooped up the boys and strolled back down into town for dinner and our tour interview with Jaime. Both were good, and our Saturday was now set. The boys had been good all day, so at 9PM we slipped into Cafe de Los Andes and enjoyed some Afogado while overlooking a caballo-mounted couple prancing through the Jardine’s plaza… quite a contrast to Medellin’s salsa scene.

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