Tag: Places

Fun Jardin Quirks #3

Fun Jardin Quirks #3

Because two is never enough.

Halloween

American arrogance. Misguided exceptionalism. I figured that no country, at least no country without a mammoth commercial-holiday-industrial complex where candy corns and costumes and bric-a-braces are hawked for weeks often months before the holiday, could outperform the Untied States. But I figured wrong. Colombia puts on a show.

The kids actually had school the day of — which was surprising, seeing as they’ve gotten off school for events as minor as centigrade decrease in temperature — and weren’t permitted to wear their costumes. But as soon as school got out, every kid in town sprinted home to change. Halloween started at 2pm.

Well, closer to 3pm. 2pm Colombian time. Colombians aren’t punctual. In fact, our Spanish maestra taught us that here ‘ahora’, which translates to ‘now’ and means ‘now’ in every other Spanish-speaking country we’ve ventured through, means ‘in the near future’. ‘Ahorita’ means in the next few minutes. I’m not sure they have a word that means ‘immediately’.

Thus, Andrea and I sweated off a few pounds in the increasingly hot Colombian sun (Colombia is heading into summer) while biding nearly an hour for the niños-only parade to start. And it started with a bang. Quite literally. Someone fired a pistol. Then, led by a marching band and various dance troupes, a costumed entanglement of prepubescents and a handful of hardly costumed post-pubescents marched into town to claim their stake of candy.

The businesses, not the houses, hand out the candy. This is, however, an area where Colombia gravely lacks. Candy here is crap. Like worse than those hard orange candies with the shiny orange wrappers. For the first time since the inception of Everett, I haven’t felt compelled to steal our kids’ candy.

The niños-only parade ended around 6pm. Then everyone rushed home to get changed for the adults parade, which was slated to start at 8pm Colombian time, so closer to 9pm.

We’d rented costumes from our neighbor, Jessica. Andrea and I went as the Queen of Hearts and the Madhatter. Our friends Tyler and Meghan from Colorado went as a witch and wizard. Our friends Martin and Luli from Argentina went as a 70s couple. We looked awesome, as I did say so myself. But we were still a bit underdressed and underprepared — most of the adults, seemingly, had some sort of dance routine prepared — in comparison to the locals.

Liquid candy awaited the parade participants. Also served by the businesses. As did a slew of food carts. We quaffed beers, laughed, slammed patacones, and ogled the spectacle. It was a riot. Wickedly fun.

Halloween bled into the following week. The next day, the local bike clubs — biking seems to be the the national pastime of Colombia — held parades. The following Friday, an adults-only affair was hosted at a haunted hacienda in the mountains.

Colombia does Halloween right.

Cueva Del Esplendor

Waterfalls are common in Colombia. We’ve seen dozens on various hikes. Therefore, for the longest time, we avoided falling into the local tourist trap, the Cueva Del Esplendor. Then our buddies from Argentina convinced us to join them.

Jeep Willies cuatro-por-cuatro-ed us up a windy and bumpy road to visit the cave, dropping us at the top of one the many peaks overlooking Jardin. From there, we hiked several miles through mountainous farmland, scaled the side of a cliff, and hiked across a river (see video of Paheli on our guide’s back below) to the cave.

Meters before the Cueva, streams babbled down moss-encrusted cliffs, creating the most relaxing sound I’ve ever heard. Then, just outside the Cueva, a small waterfall falls from the sun. Then, inside, a massive waterfall juts through a hole in the Cueva, deafening the senses. It’s transfixing. It’s marvelous.

I kinda feel like they should film the next Goonies movie in this cave…. See some photos here.

Old Lady Mafia

Like bosses, clucks of old women cluster around tables in the main square and drink coffee and Aguardiente (a local, anise-flavored liquor) and discuss how to maintain their grasp on Jardin’s social, political, and economic structures. Or perhaps cooking and crochet. I can’t be sure. They’ve never invited me to join. Andrea is determined to join or create a cluck when she becomes an old lady, however.

Christmas

Colombian’s don’t celebrate Thanksgiving. Thus there’s no major holiday between Halloween and Christmas. And thus — and some think it’s bad in the US — they start celebrating Christmas a few days after Halloween. We, of course, don’t mind. We love Christmas. Plus it gives me an excellent excuse to start playing Christmas music earlier than normal….

Temporary Pets

We’ve housed a few strays, temporarily, on this trip. Notably a pair of puppies in Pátzcuaro. For a couple days in Jardin, we hosted a stray, what looked like, Collie St. Bernard mix in our apartment. She was a sweetie. But she eventually left us for another home. (On that, Colombians are particularly kind to strays, and as such, strays are particularly kind.)

Fond Farewell

Home is where you make it. Our van has been our home most of the this trip. The four of us, occasionally five or six if you tally the stray dogs we’ve temporarily adopted in route, have made it such. But a few times on this trip we’ve made home elsewhere. Like here in Jardin.

We depart in a week. And we’re going miss Jardin and the people — some of the friendliest we’ve ever met — and the friends we’ve made. It’s been our favorite stop to date. We’re contemplating returning here one day. Making it even more of a home. But for now, we’re heading to Ecuador and then flying back to Idaho, our original home, for Christmas. We hope to see most of you then.

Tillamook Factory Outlet

Tillamook Factory Outlet

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My obsession with meat sticks is recent. I had been attempting to solve one of life’s greatest conundrums: how to consume and transport meat easily. Raw steak in my pocket wasn’t cutting it. Shortly thereafter, in a moment of serendipitous splendor, I bought a pepperoni stick out of the oft-handled and likely hepatitis-infected plastic bin below the register at a Jackson’s Food Store near our old house. I knew I had had a Slim Jims in the past, a distant and perhaps drunken memory at least a decade old, but my tastebuds and arteries couldn’t remember. Then I devoured two, perhaps five, Tillamook pepperoni sticks in rapid succession. I felt both alive and near to death at the same time. And it was a feeling that I wanted, nay needed, for the rest of my life. That’s where’s this category on this blog begins.

Over the last few months, I have familiarized myself with several meat stick varietals. While all have merits — merits I’m hoping to elucidate on this blog — I found myself continually craving Tillamook pepperoni sticks. And I purchased lots of them. By the dozen. Thus when I saw the sign below attached to the side of a trailer across the street from a trailer park, I knew I had found my meat Cloud Cuckoo Land.

The Tillamook Country Smoker Beef Jerky Factory Retail Outlet had been bragging for miles before we arrived about getting a two-foot stick for only one dollar. At first, I thought, if only. Then I thought, dang, that’s an excellent price per linear foot. I’d been getting pillaged at a buck and a quarter per foot in Boise.

Upon entering the outlet, I immediately focused on the open chest cooler stuffed with two-foot sticks. They were all labeled “fresh” and “must be consumed in five days”, which made me think of all the wonderful preservatives and chemicals I must’ve been consuming prior with the store-bought sticks. At first, after examining the sticks, I thought about going exotic, like jalapeno pepperjack, but I eventually decided to start my meat stick and blogging journey with the original: plain pepperoni.

The two-footers were noticeably fresher than their gas station siblings. They tasted like how I imagined real meat taste like. Their caramel-colored skin suit was also looser than I was accustomed to, occasionally popping in my mouth and reminding me that he who gets the freshy-fresh shall get the sweetest thing in the world (name that reference). I’d also noticed that the liquid fats inside the fresh skin suit had not fully mobilized — I was used to squeezing fat drops from the sticks — suggesting that, perhaps, the fresh sticks had not fully matured. I don’t know if that’s a good or a bad thing, but I fully intend to investigate further.

Later that night, I bragged to a hip couple we met in the campground about my meat stick excursion and about how I had consumed five two-foot sticks, so ten regular sticks, a certain record for me, in one van ride to the campground. Then they invited us to their campsite for fresh-caught oysters fire-roasted in butter and topped with cilantro, tomatoes, onions, and lemon juice. I had never felt so white trash, proud, and confused at the same time. But that’s what meat sticks do to you.

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