One of my roommates made Colombian coffee on a recent Saturday afternoon, to help us wake up after a long night. As we talked, I saw someone out of the corner of my eye standing in the doorway. It was my friend Juanes.
“I stopped by to invite you to a finca,” he said. “We just found out we can have it for the night.”
I hesitated. I still had homework to do. But then I realized that I can always do my homework Sunday night, and I shouldn’t pass up the chance to go to a beautiful vacation home in the countryside, especially when we were getting it practically for free.
Typically, it costs 550,000 pesos, or about $290, to stay from Saturday to Sunday. But Juanes is a marketing specialist for Fincas VIP, a company that rents out these vacation homes. It’s nice to know people like Juanes.
It was a beautiful drive to San Jerónimo, about an hour, with great views of the mountains northwest of Medellín.
We never stopped in the town. It looks nice, from the pictures I’ve seen, a small, quaint place with a little park somewhere in the town center. But we went straight to the finca, turning onto a little dirt road off the highway and down a steep hill, even crossing a shallow creek to get to the property.
The caretakers, who live there, opened the gates for us and we pulled up to a big house with white columns and a fancy pool. Take a look for yourself if you want to see more pictures.
You immediately notice the fresh air in the countryside. Although Medellín is possibly my favorite city ever, it is big enough that it can get smoggy.
I think that’s part of the reason paísas like fincas so much, to escape the city for a little while. Mauricio, or Mauro as we call him, told me this finca would sell for about $1 million.
I took a deep breath, strolled around the property, then went inside to find a bedroom — there were six to choose from — then I put on my board shorts and headed to the pool.
On one side of the pool, it was about 5 feet deep. On the other side, it was shallow enough to lie down. And in the middle, there was a bar with a terrace above it where we ended up at the end of the night.
After swimming, we went inside to eat. There is a kitchen, so you can cook your own food if you want, but we didn’t go grocery shopping.
Instead one of the caretakers went into town and got us chicken, potatoes and arepas. The chicken was grilled, the potatoes were baked and they were about the size of golf balls, the smallest potatoes I have ever seen.
And the arepas? Let me put it this way: I have never tasted an arepa I didn’t like. It was a delicious meal, like so many I have had here.
We played games after dinner, the first one called Sapito, requiring you to toss brass rings toward a large wooden box topped with holes, each one worth a different amount of points, ranging from 100 to 3,000. And if you somehow get a ring in the mouth of the brass frog at the back end of the box, well, you’re either very lucky or very talented, and whichever you are, you get 5,000 points.
There is also a Ping Pong table and a pool table too, although not the kind you expect to find at a billiards hall in the United States. The game here, billar, consists of only three balls, two white (one with a small red circle on it), one red. The object is to pick a ball and try to hit the other two with one try. You get a point each time you succeed. First one to 50 wins.
The only thing we were missing was music because, for some reason, the stereo was not working. But we ended up getting a good laugh out of the situation.
At one point, Mauro pulled out his Blackberry and played “Gangsta’s Paradise” by Coolio. He said the song came with the phone.
After we heard it a few times, Mauro tried to find something else. It was Macy Gray, her song “I Try.” It was the other song that came with the phone.
Then Mauro put his phone down and it played three times in a row. At that point, I said, “We’re still listening to this?” Yes, yes we were.
The song made a quick cameo later, when Juanes used the phone to call his brother. Somehow, he started the song again, and we all started laughing with Juanes saying, “How the hell do I turn this thing off?”
When Juanes’ brother, his wife and two friends arrived, we retreated to the pool, to the terrace above the bar, and sat around talking and drinking. We were having so much fun we forgot to take pictures of ourselves. It happens, sometimes, when you’re staying at a beautiful finca.
By 2 a.m., I was ready to sleep. I had to be up in five hours. I was going on another adventure.