After a gruelling first day, we went to bed at 7:30 pm and woke up around 7:00 am - almost 12 hours of blissful uninterrupted sleep! We decided to take it easy today and drive only 4 hours to the town of Jardin, a small isolated town in the heart of the coffee region.
While the drive wasn't long, the altitude changes were crazy, as we started at 8,600 feet this morning, made our way down to 3,500, and the back up 6,500 feet to Jardin. This makes driving the 2 lane roads slow going - we made about 185 Kms today, which was actually a great pace. We were told that if you actually flattened out all of Colombia, it would be the 5th largest country in the world!
The town of Jardin is impossibly beautiful - I don't think I have ever been to a place where the natural setting, the architecture and design all combine to form the perftect country town. The main square is large, and all the buildings are colourfully adorned. There is a beautiful church, and the square is packed with flowers of every imaginable color. There are chairs set up right in the square where you can order s coffee or beer (or something stronger). We took advantage of this and had a beer and a Cuba libre, which came out to a whopping $1.75 US!
Tonight is supposed to be crazy, as all the Cowboys come in to town and parade their horses through the square, and fireworks are set off. The tradition here is to make what I would call a scarecrow, personalize it (hair, clothes,etc...) and fill it with fireworks. Then at midnight you light the scarecrow and blow his head off, which is supposed to symbolize getting rid of all your problems in the past year. They are selling these things on every street corner, but I'm afraid if I buy one I would blow my own head off, rather than the scarecrow's.
Anyway, after celebrating the New Year, we will be up at 6:00 am to leave - we have a very tough stretch tomorrow right outside of Jardin with a really bad gravel road, so we need to be up at first light to make good time.
Feliz Ano to everyone!
“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one's lifetime.”
- Mark Twain