Jardin, like a spec of flint on an alpaca wool jumper, is nestled deep in the South West region of Antioquia, Colombia. It is encapsulated by towering Andean Mountains that twist around this little town of 14,000 inhabitants. Stand at the edge of the town’s perimeter and the echo of the jungle reverberates around you with the sound of thundering rivers and energetic grasshoppers. Move closer to the centre, El Libertador plaza, where old colonial style buildings kneel unimposingly, and you will be treated to the singsong of impassioned locals who congregate at the many bars and cafes on the plaza. Here you can sit and relax, watching the slow pace of idle men and dancing horses.
Jardin, which is Spanish for garden, is immaculate in presentation with each house painted wonderfully vibrant and unique colours. The people here appear to take enormous pride in the preservation of this idyllic and serene little town. Walk by the locals and they barely shoot you a glance, reactions fluctuating from mild curiosity to complete indifference. Though if you take the lead with your best Buanas tardis, the people will smile and sincerely repeat the phrase back to you.
I had arrived in the height of wet season. Clouds hung languidly overhead, hugging the soaring peaks. There were sporadic and torrential down pours in the afternoon which were later punctuated by tumultuous thunder in the evenings. The air was moist and thick during the day with a feeling like it could be pinched between thumb and index finger. As I walked around smiling asininely at all those who could be bothered to look my way, I rejoiced in the fact that I nothing to do other than just be.
They say the best way to achieve Satori (a Buddhist term used to explain a heightened sense of awareness, or enlightenment) is to place yourself in new surroundings. As I sat listening for the first time to the cacophony of sounds echoing from the interior of the jungle, the chirps and squawks of foreign animals, and to the clunks and bangs of the carpenter in the balcony beside my own, I achieved my first moment of Satori since I arrived in Colombia.
By Liam McGuckin