Cowboys and Cable Cars in Jardin

Since arriving in Colombia we have found that we prefer small villages,the countryside and mountains to the urban environment.

Jumping into yet another bus we set off from Medellin to the small town of Jardin, halfway back to Zona Cafetera.

Described by the guide books as “off the beaten track” and “one of the most beautiful colonial villages in Colombia”, we hoped we wouldn’t be disappointed. We needn’t have been concerned as, on first impressions, it exceeded our expectations, except maybe not quite so “undiscovered” as described.

Jardin plaza and cathedral

We searched high and low for the hostal we had booked but couldn’t find it anywhere. The online map provided led to an empty field! The locals hadn’t heard of it so we gave up, checked in to a place on the main plaza and headed to the nearest bar in search of a beer.

A well deserved rest!  All the men sat leant back like this…

The nearest bar happened to be a graffiti covered place in the corner of the square and, armed with a couple of bottles of ice cold “Club Colombia”, we settled into our prime position to watch the rest of Jardin go by, and go by they certainly did!

It was late afternoon and as the sun went down the cowboys began to arrive on their horses. Soon we are surrounded by said cowboys, each hanging on to their horse’s reins whilst sitting at the tables around us knocking back beers at a significant rate. One can only presume that the horses know their way back home well enough to deliver their owners home without direction!

As the evening progresses the plaza begins to fill up with yet more people both on foot and on horseback. Soon it seems that everyone in the town is congregating in the main square for the evening.  The food stalls are doing a roaring trade and the smell of barbecuing meat fills the air.

There are restaurants and bars all around the square each with brightly coloured chairs made out of cowhide all vying for the business of townsfolk and visitors alike. Already we are liking this place – a lot!

Horses are a really big thing in Jardin. They are still a significant means of transport, but are also considered an art form in their own right. I think they are known as “Paso” horses, but whatever they are called, they are clearly a very elegant and superbly trained breed. Great effort is made to ensure they look their best with some very ornate livery.

The horses promenade around the plaza each evening performing some very elegant moves. Forwards, backwards, and especially diagonally. The only time I have seen anything similar is in the dressage events in the olympics. Quite something! It almost seems as they are dancing at times. It really is a sight to behold as they prance around the cobbles, the rhythmic sound of their hooves resounding around the plaza.

Brightly painted doors are everywhere …

As indeed are the houses behind them..

Cable cars

With mountains all around, cable cars make the homes in the hills accessible.  The next day in town we decide to seek one of these cable cars. One is most definitely closed, the other is open but doesn’t look too much like any cable car I have ever seen. More like a garden shed strung out on a couple of ropes across the valley. I am no great fan of heights, but what’s the worst that can happen? Plummeting to our deaths in the canyon below maybe?

At the cable car “station” we pay our 4000 COPS return fare and are immediately joined in the tiny car by a Colombian TV crew, clearly keen to witness some stupid foreigners risking life and limb! The reporter eems ok about the trip but the cameraman seems about as enthralled/mortified about the experience as I do! Of course, we lived to tell the tale and no doubt our experience is being shown on some Colombian Tourism promotional video somewhere.

The view of the town from the top is worth the effort and it is only then that we get to appreciate how large the cathedral on the main plaza actually is considering it is a very small town.

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