Trout, Aromaticas...and Auto Rickshaws?

Trip Start Sep 09, 2006
Trip End Aug 18, 2010

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Flag of Colombia  ,
Thursday, February 15, 2007

Way, way, way off the beaten track, we made our way to a typical Antioquian Paisa Pueblo nestled in a valley in a remote region of the Western Andes.  The town called Jardin (meaning garden), only has about 15 000 inhabitants, and narrow streets lined with  whitewashed houses surrounding beautiful courtyards.  The sleepy central park was surely the substance of movies, or at least some telenovelas (Colombian soap operas that are watched ferverously by the entire nation).  A large and looming brick church casting shadows into the main square, with its churchbells chiming almost a little too often, trendy cafes and bars around its perimeter, and gigantic gorgeous trees blooming with vibrant, lilac flowers at its heart.  Paisanos (Read the Salento entry for info on the Paisa people) would sit around the edges of the park, with their cowboy hats and farming boots in 3s and 4s, reading the paper, sipping Aromaticas (delious flavours of herbal teas), and watching the day progress, as if time had stood completely still.

As soon as we arrrived, we knew we had to stay a few days...

Since we had been sampling the town´s fare of delicious fresh fish, we decided to visit a Trout Breading station or Trucheria with thousands of fish, from tiny infancy stage to six month old, 250g adults ready for purchase.  We learned that trout are actually quite fragile little animals that need to be closely monitored, and a number of variables are needed for optimum breading.  Flowing water for oxygenation, regulated feeding times, and separate tanks for separate ages are all essential.  We even took the opportunity to go fishing in the nearby pond, using a simple bamboo fishing pole, with a piece of dough as bait .  The fish were caught within seconds, and we gutted and deboned them ourselves, and beheld their still-BEATING tiny little hearts that were dropped into the sink!  Reeshma says, "EGAD, I only like eating them, not killling them!!"  The restaurant in the Trucheria cooked them up for us for lunch, although it just wasn´t quite the same, considering what we had just experienced. 

Oh yeah, and from the land of weird and bizarre, the strangest thing about our day to the Trucheria was that we got there on an Indian Auto Rickshaw.  Talk about out of context.  There's an entirely brand new fleet of them in the town.  It turns out that the town's taxi drivers got together and found a way to import them from India.  They arrived on a ship at the port town of Buenaventura and the 3 wheelers were delivered complete with "Made In India" sticker and instructions in Hindi.  It seems to be a great idea since the town isn't big enough to warrant the use of cars as taxis.  All the drivers need now is oily hair, an addiction to betelnut, and an advanced sense in the art of ripping off their customers.

The next day we took a tiny makeshift Cablecar to traverse across the valley below us.  It wasn´t quite what we expected, as we paid our 2000 pesos ($0.90USD) and boarded a wooden box that felt more like a horse cage.  We were pulled across by a solar powered car engine, and caught some fantastic views of the red roof topped town below us.  We sat among some kids in the village across playing a quick game of pickup football, with flipflops marking the goal posts.  It was a lovely afternoon.

Jardin ranks as one of our favorite tiny little towns in the region of Antioquia.

Soap Operas are currently the most watched TV format in Colombia. National soap operas are shown usually in Prime Time (after the 7:00pm News).

- There are direct buses from Pereira to Jardin.  It's trickier from need to take a bus to La Pintada (15 000 pesos, 2.5 hours) then to the city of Andes (12 000 pesos, 2 hours), then a collectivo taxi to the town of Jardin (3000 pesos, 20 minutes).
- Hotels:  Hotel Diana (24 000 pesos) has horrible cardboard beds, but the El Dorado (35 000 pesos for a double) is superb.
- Take an Auto Rickshaw to the Trucheria (4500 pesos one way), you can rent fishing poles for 1000 pesos each, and the restaurant attached will cook them up for you for lunch.
- There are actually 2 cable cars in Jardin...1 to Estacion La Garuta (which we took, 1000 pesos each) and a fancier one for 5000 pesos to another hilltop with a church.

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