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  • Writer's pictureJeremy Brown

Exploring the Stunning Landscapes of Jerico to Jardin, Colombia

Updated: May 6

Leaving the square in Jerico proved to be a journey in it's self, each turn revealing a new challenge as we navigated steep inclines and sharp bends. As we departed the town, still nestled amidst the towering mountains, the familiar ribbon of concrete gave way to a rugged path. The compacted dusty road beckoned us onward, swiftly narrowing as it bid its final farewell. A lone building, adorned with mint green hues and a crimson banner, marked our departure point as we ventured into the vast expanse of Colombia.

With the Royal Enfield purring at idle speed, we embarked on a 16-kilometer odyssey through the heart of this enchanting land. The road, though well-traveled and meticulously groomed, offered more than just passage for us; it served as a lifeline for locals and their four-legged companions alike, as they traversed the mountains on foot.

Amidst emerald-green fields and distant mountain peaks, we embraced the rhythm of the road, each twist and turn a testament to the rugged beauty of our surroundings. In the company of stray dogs and fellow travelers, we embarked on a journey that promised both challenge and discovery.

As we journeyed onward, the road teemed with life. Motos idled by, carrying solitary riders or whole families of four, while the occasional truck or bus rumbled past. The narrow thoroughfare accommodated only one-way traffic, with a lush jungle enveloping the mountainside on our right. Palm trees and banana trees arched overhead, their broad leaves casting dappled shadows over the road.

As the road curved and pinched, we were greeted by the sight of quaint finca farmhouses lining the roadside. Rolling green hills, dotted with cows and livestock, painted a picturesque scene, while the gentle breeze carried the scent of flowers, grass, and simmering local delicacies. Beneath the bright blue sky, punctuated by fluffy clouds, the mountains and hillsides danced with contrasting hues, nature's beauty unfolding before us.

As we ventured deeper into our journey, the landscape transformed before our eyes. Thicker jungle and sprawling farms lined the road, while the distant silhouette of cows gradually faded from our side mirror. The terrain grew more undulating, with groves of dried ruts marking the remnants of past rains.

A gentle stream meandered alongside the dusty road, its tranquil murmurs intermingling with the rustling of birds in the nearby foliage. Despite the verdant surroundings, our view was confined to the narrow dirt ribbon that cut through the sea of pallet greens.

Undeterred by the challenging terrain, we pressed onward, revving up our engines to conquer the long dirt inclines. Leaning forward as the bike danced beneath us, we deftly manipulated the clutch and throttle to ascend our dirt challenger.

As the road gradually relinquished its dusty assault, we found ourselves on a more level path. The landscape unfolded in all its glory, with patchwork hills and majestic mountain peaks stretching as far as the eye could see. Against the backdrop of the boundless sky, dotted with the spires of modest cathedrals and the labor of men and horses in the fields below, we felt as though we had ascended to the very pinnacle of Colombia's heights.

As the gravel path narrowed, we encountered remnants of past rains, with once-large puddles now resembling dried craters of earth. Ascending a slight incline, our journey led us to a transition in architecture, from brick buildings with tin roofs to those adorned with traditional tile roofing. As the gravel gave way to a cobblestone road, we found ourselves entering the charming mountain village of Buenos Aires Antioquia. Perched atop the range, this quaint settlement sat precariously on the edge of a drop-off that descended to the valley floor below. Here, we paused to stretch our legs and capture a quick photograph, reflecting on the 15 kilometers we had traversed thus far.

Descending from this mountain refuge, we navigated a treacherous path—a tight hairpin gravel road devoid of guardrails or signage. With loose gravel shifting beneath our tires, each maneuver felt unnerving yet strangely controlled. Clutching the bike tightly, we negotiated the winding road with cautious precision, our journey punctuated by groves of dried mud resembling tire-sized canals.

As the terrain gradually smoothed, we found ourselves greeted by the sight of large cobblestone roads and neatly lined houses with gardens bursting with tropical blooms. Transitioning onto a newly paved road, devoid of potholes, we descended into a lush canyon. Here, we were met with a tableau of beauty—houses adorned with iron gates, restaurants with open walls, and tile roofs perched along the roadway.

As the hillside fell away, revealing a patchwork of rooftops below, we continued our descent, the road looping around hills until we reached a bustling intersection—a convergence of paths and people amidst the tranquil beauty of the countryside.

Arriving in Jardin, the road treated us to one final hairpin turn, as if to prolong the anticipation of entering this enchanting town

The village unfolded before us, its layout mirroring the contours of the mountain valley it nestled within. Comprising approximately 15 blocks in one direction and 9 in the other, the village seemed meticulously diced up, with each block contributing to its charming character. From the low side to the high side of the valley, the village extended, surrounded by peaks that reached skyward, disappearing into the misty embrace of clouds.

While the sun bathed us in its warm glow, the mountains seemed to be shrouded in their own weather, their peaks intermittently obscured by passing clouds. As we navigated the grid of roadways that crisscrossed the village, we eventually reached its outer limits, marked by a fence and a tranquil pasture where cows grazed peacefully.

Here, amidst the serenity of nature, a solitary road beckoned, climbing upwards and away from the village. Flanked by walls of foliage and rock, with a narrow pasture to our right, the sound of water cascading down the rocks serenaded us. Soon, we encountered a magnificent sight—a cascade of water spilling down the dark face of the rocks, creating a large pool that seemed to push the road outward.

Adjacent to the road, a loose driveway descended steeply towards a large white building and a grassy parking lot. As we approached, we were greeted by the inviting ambiance of the lobby below. A ping pong table, a seating area reminiscent of a breakfast nook, and a serene pond fed by the falls from the road greeted us. Lilly pads floated gracefully on the surface, while large koi fish glided beneath, their vibrant colors flashing momentarily before disappearing into the depths once more.

After settling into our accommodations, we decided to venture back into town via a Tuk Tuk, eager to explore the sights and experience the village on foot. Our priorities were to locate a cash machine and to find a spot for people-watching while enjoying a refreshing drink. Navigating through the lively square, we stumbled upon a quaint bar just off the main square.

Positioned at a table with two chairs facing the bustling square, we observed as horses trotted up and down and the church buzzed with activity. Suddenly, our attention was drawn to the spectacle of large plastic figures being carried by six young men clad in white robes. A silver Toyota with speakers mounted on top accompanied the procession, with a man inside the vehicle strumming a guitar. As the music echoed through the streets, the march began, with people streaming in from the side streets. With the setting sun casting long shadows and candles flickering to life, the procession wound its way around the square, enveloping us in its solemnity.

However, my focus shifted as I noticed the restaurant and bar owners swiftly closing their doors, only to reopen them moments later as the procession passed by. It was a curious sight—the seamless transition from closure to bustling activity, as if nothing had interrupted the evening. Entranced by this display, I momentarily forgot to sip my wine, only snapping out of my reverie once the moment had passed.

The rest of the evening unfolded with laughter and camaraderie as we savored our drinks. Heather stumbled upon a restaurant with rave reviews just a few feet away, and despite the long queue, we patiently waited. Standing in line, we struck up a conversation with three young gentlemen ahead of us, who politely informed us of the line's order. Yet, their graciousness extended further as they invited us to join them at their table once it became available.

As the night progressed, stories were shared back and forth, bridging the gap between our backgrounds and experiences. Despite the age disparity, we found common ground in our mutual curiosity about each other's lives and adventures. Reflecting on the day's encounters, I marveled at the ease with which connections were formed once the barriers of our surroundings were removed. It left me pondering the intricacies of human interaction, and I found myself wondering.

The hostel offered a pleasant stay, with a room that, while basic, came at a reasonable price. We've found ourselves opting for hostels less frequently these days, not because we dislike them, but because we often find ourselves among guests much younger than us. This observation has proven correct time and time again.

The next morning, as we sat down for breakfast, the hostel was bustling with activity. Most of the tables were occupied, and English filled the air as the predominant language of the morning. Heather and I kept to ourselves, quietly sipping our coffee and hot chocolate while enjoying our breakfast.

However, our solitude was soon interrupted by the lively conversation of a friendly British couple and a group of three Canadian girls. Feeling a bit weary from our breakfast and with my coffee now finished, I attempted to lighten the mood with a joke. To my surprise, it elicited laughter from both parties. Yet, as quickly as the conversation had begun, it fizzled out, leaving us with that all-too-familiar feeling we often experience in hostels.

It's a sensation akin to being the chaperones at a sleepover, where one attempts to fit in but ultimately feels out of place. Despite our hopes for a different experience this time, where our English-speaking presence or our adventurous mode of travel might spark interest, it seemed that no one took notice or cared.

With our stay reduced to just one night, we hastily packed up the bike and departed the hostel, feeling like forgotten guests. Our haste led us into a muddy downpour in the mountain pass—a reminder, perhaps, to always check the weather before setting off on our journey.

To be continued.

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