Once we finally made it to Jardin, it really was worthwhile. We ended up getting in the first car, van or bus that we were able to flag down. We staked ourselves out at a speed bump and luckily a van driver stopped after about 30 minutes. We headed to Bonobolo, where we caught an early 90s Renault 9 that took us to Andes. It was somewhat of a smooth ride — better than your average bus — but we broke down about 15 minutes in and the driver had to pull over and suck on the gas line to get started again. Once we were in Andes our driver dropped us off at the Sureste Parquedero where we actually bought a ticket for the last leg, to Jardin.

What’s nice about this town are the “hospifamilias,” which are essentially rooms for rent in residents’ houses. Within minutes of arriving in the town center a guy who runs a hospifamilia scooped up me and Dave and showed us to his house, two blocks away. For 20 mil per person per night, it was a pretty good deal — much better than the hostels in Medelliln.

To get acquainted with the small town there are two cable cars (think ski lifts) se llaman La Garrucha y Teleferico that bring you up to the top of both hills that surround the valley. One is very new and modern — fit for a Swiss mountainside, and the other reminds me of an outdoor shower stall strung on metal cables that floats you over Jardin’s river at about 300 feet in the air.

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We also explored the town’s swimmin’ hole, which was shockingly frigid. During our 20-minute walk to the area where the river slows and pools between rocks, the sun managed to dip behind some clouds, making it extra chilly. But, that didn’t stop the high school boys from flipping off rocks into a no-diving zone.

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And lastly there’s Jardin’s sweet factory se llama Dulces del Jardin that makes incredible mermeladas and chewy fruit candies called bocadillos. The figs were my favorite. Dave and I were a little unsure of how the process works, but essentially you walk in, are handed a menu, and are encouraged to request a taste of one of everything until you feel inclined to buy something. Totally works. And the shop is also just a cool place to visit. Whoever runs Dulces del Jardin has a thing for creative reuse and ball jars.

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February 10, 2014