Some people love the city. Some people love the countryside.
I love them both, in certain amounts.
My preference is to live in a city, to be in the middle of the action, a place where you can find almost anything you want to make your life comfortable.
But I need a break sometimes.
Work, traffic, smog, crowding…they can be a little nerve-wracking at times. This is when I need the countryside.
I went to San Jerónimo recently to find out if the place could live up to the pictures, and I left not wanting to, well, leave.
To understand how this place came to be, we need to go all the way back to the late 1970s, when a German student moved to Colombia and met a young paisa at a mutual friend’s wedding.
He met a young Colombian woman, fell in love, and married her. They later moved to Germany and started a family.
Their kids, Alexis and Laura, would grow up learning German and Spanish at home, and English in school.
They decided they wanted to start a business in their mother’s native Colombia, to renovate a finca and run it as a hostel.
Just an hour or so northwest of Medellin, it’s easy to get here. Buses leave from the Terminal del Norte about every hour.
Your arrival in San Jerónimo is the long leg of the trip. The finca/hostel is about a half hour outside the pueblo, one of the best things about the experience.
You can really escape the claustrophobia of big city life. Just bring insect repellent. You’ll need it.
The Hostal La Finca moto-taxi can pick you up outside the Exito if there are three or fewer people, at 25,000 pesos ($12.50). For big groups, La Finca’s staff can call you a jeep or two, each one for 40,000 pesos ($20).
You’ll climb a dirt road up into the mountains just north of the town, passing beautiful fincas along the way, some belonging to famous people such as famous singer and composer Dario Gomez, some fincas with such modern architecture you feel like they were transplanted from Rodeo Drive.
Upon your arrival, Caña, the finca’s friendly chocolate lab, will greet you, along with whoever stays behind.
On my trip, it was Laura because her boyfriend Hannes picked us up in town. Alexis and his girlfriend Mathilde were traveling in Thailand, a much-deserved vacation after all the work they put into the finca/hostel project.
They stay in a house next door, so the guests can have their privacy but still have a caretaker nearby to help them with anything they need.
The first thing you notice about the place is the pool. It is a grand pool, a place I spent much of my time, but I checked out the other amenities too.
There is a pretty gazebo, under the shade of a flower-rich bouganvillea, a turtle pond, a fire pit, a trail to a nearby river, and a vegetable garden with herbs and spices such as cilantro and parsley, as well as fruits and vegetables such as guanábana and lettuce.
In the house there are three private rooms, one of them upstairs with a huge terrace, the other two downstairs with fancy bathrooms. They range from 50,000 to 80,000 pesos ($25 to $40) per night.
The two dorms, where beds rent for 25,000 pesos ($12.50) per night, are connected by a common bathroom that looks very much like one of the bathrooms in one of the private rooms downstairs.
The other option is to rent the whole place out, like a finca, which starts at 550,000 pesos ($225) per day in the high season.
There is also an open-air kitchen with plenty of room to make some very nice meals so do your grocery shopping in the town if you like to cook, and I do, so I did.
Now let’s get back to the pool.
This area of Antioquia is known for being quite hot so a pool is essential.
As soon as I got there, I dropped my stuff and jumped into the refreshing water. I made this a routine each of the three days I was there.
We had a lot of sun during the day before the late afternoon rains swept the peaks so I got a decent tan too.
I surprised some of my friends. I had to show them a picture of my parents, so they understood that my pasty-white mother’s genes are dominant if I’m not in the sun all the time, but my dark father’s genes make an appearance after a good amount of time in the sun.
The second day, Hannes and I played badminton with Jenny and Julian, two of the other guests. We didn’t keep score because it’s hard to be too competitive when you’ve just had a few beers before you’ve started the game.
Hannes told me about volunteering opportunities for people who want to spend some time in the countryside.
As my last night there approached, I stood poolside to watch the fading daylight flood the valleys.
It was not a clear sunset, not after the afternoon showers, but it was a pretty picture, the way the clouds divided the light and made it look like a series of separate spotlights trying to highlight something beautiful below.
I would be going back to the city soon, I thought, but not quite yet, not quite yet.