We booked a private tour with LandVentures, specifically Andres the owner, to go see a charming little town called Jardin (translates to Garden). The day was definitely one of the best and worst travel experiences of my life, and I’ll explain why.
We got up early to meet at 6:30 for our departure from Medellin. Andres previously asked me if it was okay if another person came on our tour, and it was fine by me because it was saving us some money. We met Andres and Tom, a Belgian man living in Peru and we all got into the car for a 2.5 hour ride to Jardin. We had one stop for an arepa with cheese for breakfast, and I am really glad we did because the next stretch of the drive was going to be a rough one for me. I get carsick pretty easily, but these were no normal roads – they were windy mountain roads with Andres passing every truck and slow car he caught up with. It was a rough ride. I tried to keep it together, because I knew we had a long and awesome day ahead of us but I couldn’t have been more relieved to get out of the car.
After a bumpy dirt road, we got to the house where a family had the horses we were going to ride, and the son named Sebastian was to be our guide. The four of us got on our horses and rode an hour into the Andes Mountains, enjoying the fresh air, jaw-dropping views, and the company of our horses. Mine was named Leonardo, and he listened really well (except when he wanted a snack, he would make me stop and grab some grass for the road). He was a great companion, and although there were some streams we had to go through and some tight squeezes next to really steep drop-offs, I trusted my horse and wasn’t nervous. Grant’s horse seemed to be the youngest and was fast, but struggled to hold his body weight and got kind of worn out.
Our destination was a remote waterfall in the rainforest. We got off our horses, Sebastian tied them up at a woman’s house in the middle of nowhere, and then we trekked for about a half hour to the waterfall. It was pretty strenuous, because it was so hilly! When we got to the entrance of the waterfall, we literally had to squeeze into a small hole, and we were thankful we weren’t any fatter because it wouldn’t have been possible to get into. On the other side, we were standing behind the waterfall, and it was incredible!
The whole experience was so very worth it to do, and after spending some time admiring the falls, we got back to our horses for the ride out. Overall, this was one of the most memorable experiences of our lives, and we were so happy to have gotten a chance to feel like true Colombians.
After returning on the horses, we drove nearby to a woman’s house where we would eat lunch. She and her family owned a small farm, where they grew all the crops they needed except when they had to buy rice and beans. The meal was so gratifying, and so delicious. It started off with the freshest orange juice we’ve ever had, then we were served rice, beans, plantains, guacamole, salsa, and little patties that tasted like kibbee! She and her son grew coffee beans, so they gave us a cup of fresh Colombian coffee that tasted really smooth and was actually enjoyable black. Afterwards, we got a brief overview of how coffee beans are made into coffee, and we got to pick some of them ourselves just as rain was beginning to fall on us. They told us to stop since it was about to pour, but it was very interesting to learn even in the short time we did. I have so much respect for coffee pickers, who work so hard but get so little back for their efforts. We said goodbye after buying a few bags of coffee for our families, and drove into the town of Jardin.
Jardin was quaint and inviting. It was a perfect little town to have a stroll, just popping into shops and getting to people watch. The colorful buildings and flowers in the town square made me want to pick up and move there. We went to a well-known Colombian sweets shop, where we got to taste a woman’s famous marshmallow recipe. I ended up buying a jar of pineapple and mango jam, but it got confiscated at customs while flying home! 🙁 Once we left Jardin, it was back on the windy mountain roads for us, and unfortunately there was construction happening on a main road which forced us to take an even windier detour that added 45 minutes to our trip. I was really struggling with my carsickness, but I will not let it take away from the amazing day that we had overall. I will always remember it as a great day!