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From the southern Colombia and Diary 1, I now enters the western part.
3. The plan is so simple, it can't fail - or? Drive the 200 kilometres to EL Jardin, enjoy the town and get some shopping, laundry, shaving and most of all: Hit the bed early. There are two rotes, which the GPS think are almost equal in time. One leads through a national park, and that does it.
But here are quite some roadwork and alike, and they don't refrain from keeping up stationary for over half a hour. Worst is; you never know how long. But the nature is great, and even the farmland look good. Green fields with cows, pineapple, papaya, cane, bananas and the steep hill sides have coffee.
Here are a few larger towns, neither look that appealing at all. The smaller villages, on the other hand, does look attracting.

I turn into a more narrow road, heading into the mountains. I stop at a restaurant, but they kind of ignore me, when they learn I don't speak Spanish. Well, only 50 kilometres to El Jardin.
Then the road turn into gravel - or rocks, but the GPS say, it is only for 20 kilometres. It is Reserva Natural Cuchilla Jardin - Támesis, and through real nice nature. The next ten kilometres, I meet two locals in their rather big 4x4. They tell me, the road is closed due to a landslide, and it is a real long detour. Well, I have a look at the landslide. Actually, here are several places, where the mountain have more of less have buried the trail. 

After 10 kilometres, I reach the big mud-slide. It does look challenging, but as I have been saying: I can get a rental car through, where others fail to get their 4x4 through. Time to prove it. I walk the path first, and my feet and flip-flaps are two lumps of red clay.
I fire-up the car, gaining momentum, and hope for the best. I get through, although it was a close cut. And I loose the front spoiler, and gain 20 kilos or red clay in the front. But the cows could do it, and so could I.

I clear the worse of, and try to enjoy the last 10 kilometres. Well, then it is additional 23 on another road, with exactly the same conditions. It start to rain, and that does not make it easier. But, it is some great views to the higher mountains and the green, lower valleys.
Finally, I can see El Jardin way down in a large valley - and it have sun! I get there at four, way later than I had hoped for. And I'm getting hungry by now. At first, I can't find my hotel. It turn out this pretty town only use real tiny signs. I find a few others, all full. Then I succeed to find "mine", but it is full to. I finally find one, a bit expensive, and with shared bathroom. There goes the laundry. I find a nearby restaurant, but despite two are sitting eating there, none show up to take my order.

I head down towards the square, recognisable in this part of the world, by the church. Here are numerous restaurants and tourist shops. By tourist, I mean visitors from Bogotá. I get a !vegetarian steak!, mainly shredded potatoes, rice, corn-bread, fries and a nice bean soup.
Then I make a short stroll around the centre of town, and it sure is pretty - even in a  light drizzle. I find a barbershop, and get a shave and cut. Then it is getting dark, and I head home to work. Make a real error with the 200 photos of the day, and have to rename them manually. There goes the early bedtime. Well, I get early to bed, but have to work quite some in the early morning.

Photos of the day: Day 5: Reserva Natural Cuchilla Jardin - Támesis and El Jardin

4. After a good nights sleep, I finish yesterdays photos and diary, and then a lot of accounting. At ten, I'm ready to hit the surounding nature. I drive towards a viewing point, but the motives and plants along the gravel road is too nice, and I park the car.
Her are small farms with bananas and coffee along with a goat and a few cows. I see quite some different butterflies and a huge spider. Here are many types of orchids, some are flowering massively. It is like a huge cluster of flowers with a tine plant attached.

Her are great views to several green valleys and misty mountains. White rivers in the gorges, dark green coffee plants, tall bananas and much more. The viewing point is a bit disappointing, as it is just to the town, and it does not look any impressive from here. I had planned to find other small mountain roads, but I have seen enough for one day.

At noon, I head back to town, and start hunting for several things - knowing it is a huge challenged. accidentally I park the car right outside a shop which sell power-plugs. I need a replacement from the huge Arab one with the converter. I get a real tiny one for 1.000.  Around the corner, I try a shop for new flip-flaps. I had not expected to find a pair of black Habanas in my size - but I do.
As I am getting a bit peckish, I try the first restaurant. It turns out to be a vegan one! They only have vegan, which is defiantly vegetarian. Then I want some of the strange cubes of "tea" the last hotel had. It is like a sugar cube with fruit taste, and I find it in the first shop I look.
The true challenge is now to find a pair of trousers in my size. I usually fail at home, and here, the shops are only 20-40 square metres. The first one have my size, although it is Denim, and lack all the pockets I would have wanted. But I can't be picky, especially as the one pair I have are falling apart faster than I can stitch them.

After having manages to find five out of five, I start wandering around the town, enjoying the beauty of it. The last houses are right at the fields, and the mountain views. The colours are bright, the woodwork great, the flowers impressive.
I pass the central square and cathedral, and get to my surprise, I am able to find a cup of chai con leche. Celebrate with a Red Devil cake. Then I see the rest of the town, and when the thunder get real close at four, I head home and get an early start on the photos.

When I return to the wet town after seven, it have changed into evening dress: Loads of LED lights, especially on the square and cathedral. The bars are packed, the restaurants start to. Every one speak Spanish - except me. I'm back at the office at eight, hoping to finish early. El Jardin and around

5. It is a short drive to Medelin (under 200 km), and through really beautiful mountains. The trees are covered in at least four species of cacti, the rivers are brown from washed out clay and here are only a few villages.

At one point, the vultures have a party on one of several road-killed possums. I meet several school-busses, all ancient and painted in bright colours. If it wasn't for the design and the black smoke cloud, they look like brand new vehicles.
I cross the huge river once by a suspension bridge, or suspicious bridge: Only one car at the time.

Medelin turns out to be huge! And not attractive at all. I skip the hotel, till I have seen the Botanical Garden of Medelin. The GPS leads me in on a service-road, and that cost me one hour. Massive queue, and when I finally get to the turn-off, it is closed!
When I finally make it to the garden, it turns out to be just a small park. Their shadow for the orchid and bromeliad collections are the most impressive, and the lake is nice too. I'm back at the car after half a hour, glad I didn't find a hotel!

The next sight is the 200 meter monolith at El Peñón de Guatapé. To judge from the map, it is a great area and a little town, which must be filled with tourists. And that is a good thing, when you are looking for vegetarian food and a hotel.
The road leads up the mountain, and again,  the views are breathtaking. In the highlands, a huge lake have so many "fingers" out in the green hills, and her are packed with people. I park outside the old town, take my 3-4 kilo bag and find a nice hotel in the centre.

Then it is time for lunch. The second place I try on the square, in front of the church, have a vegetarian dish. Beans, egg, salad, fried banana and corn-bread along with fresh juice for 10.000 pesos.
The I walk around the town. Several alleys leads down to the sea-side, and here are even more people. All kind of watersport is offered, and numerous shops with souvenirs.

I find my way back to the town and its small, colourful houses. It is not El Jardin, but it tries! After half the city, I treat myself with tea and what I thought was cheesecake. It is just some milky jelly.
Some large statues on the central square are made from plastic  lids and corks, and a bit too tacky for me.
As it darkens, I find supper at an other restaurant, but end up with pretty much the same meal.
BG of Medelin and El Peñón de Guatapé

6. I try to capture the fjords and the big rock on the way out. Due to the low sun, the contrasts are way to high, but I enjoy it anyway. I drive up towards the rock, and stop when it get too large for the camera. A huge set of stairs lead to the top and the strange building, but I can't be loured.
I head back to Medelin, which still lack any attraction. A five kilometre tunnel without fresh air lead out to the wild. The road from here towards Santa Fe de Antioquia is a real treat. Huge, green mountains and one view more astonishing than the previous. But I have to confess, they kind of look alike on pictures.

Here are a few small villages, but most are living in scatted farm houses along the road. Huge rivers have carved their way down between the mountains, and to judge from their colour, they still do. Probably helped by man.
The landscape dries out as approach Santa Fe de Antioquia. Here are some Opuntias and large epiphytic cacti. I try to explore, but it is fenced in.

Santa Fe de Antioquia is yet another pretty town. It is old, and have a dignity the former lacked. I find some supper: Vegetarian hamburgesa - with meat. Then I do several loops in this charming town. The churches, the library with its green yard. The small shops, the green squares. I'm sure one could spend several days here.
However, despite I have considered to sleep here, I rather bite the transport day of tomorrow in half. Driving 670 kilometres in one day on these bad roads, winding their way through beautiful mountains, slows down anyone.

I figure, I even can treat myself with a beach, given I do a 15 kilometre detour to Turbo. The mountains are big, and the views astonishing. However, I have taken photos of it before, and on a small screen, they kind of look alike. I just enjoy the views. At one point, I pass a pass, and here are several conifers. Whole mountain sides are planted with them. Another place, a huge toad, Bufo aga?, crosses the road while I botanises.
I had expected this main road to be sealed all the way, but several stretches are not.
Then I reach the lowlands. Huge, green fields with Indian oxen dominates, but it seems like more and more oil palms are taking over.

I reach Turbo at five, and it is not as I had expected. Rather run down and poor. The road leading to the beach is not sealed, but flooded. Here are a lot of locals, mainly in bars, but I only find one hotel, right in the end of the road. I get a basic room, and head down to the beach - or not! The concrete reach all the way out in the waves. No sand, stone or even swamp. Might be high tide - and that it will be in the morning as well.
It is steaming hot down here, but the sea offers a cold breeze. I talk the cook into making some vegetarian food - and I get it without meat.
I work at the restaurant, listening to their music, which in my ears always sound alike. Kind like the waves, right next to me. Their Wi-Fi work fine, but their internet is a joke. Santa Fe de

From here, I head up to the northern Colombia in Diary 3

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