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In December we were invited to tour the magnificent landscapes of south-eastern Antioquia.
On our second day we headed towards Támesis or, as our guide Rodrigo called it, ‘The Land of Constant Return’. Only three hours from Medellin and close to the now well-known town of Jardín, this is a destination with a whole heap of potential that, up until now, has been kept secret from most of us. However, the more you explore it, the more this little box of surprises takes hold of you.
Támesis is the name used in Spanish to talk about London’s famous river, the Thames. And while this article is clearly not about a river in England, it’s not totally unrelated. In fact, the town was given its name by doña Rafaela who visited England during its golden years. Originally the town was called San Antonio and the river was called Támesis but, interestingly, over the years they switched.
On the first Tuesday of every month, the town hosts a livestock fair which has been going on for decades. Loyal regulars come from Jericó and Aguadas to take part so, if you’re sick of your little cow Lolita and you want to get a good price for her or are hoping to swap her for some magic beans you should head down to the fair (disclaimer: there is no guarantee that any beans you receive will in fact be magical). Bartering is the order of the day and the farmers trust each other’s word. This is somewhat of a cultural treasure that the townsfolk are keen to preserve for the coming generations.
If you’re looking to enjoy a good walk, there are eleven different routes you can take, including the coffee route, the water route, the route of the indigenous petroglyphs of Cartama and, who knows, you might even come across a spectacled bear or a puma, both of which allegedly roam a reserve in this area.
Yet there’s more: the hospital of the San Juan de Dios order is the most innovative I have ever seen, as it focuses on preventative medicine, offering numerous programs which involve the community.
It also includes an incredible gym which doesn’t even compare to most that you have seen before. As well as the exercise machines, there is a climbing wall with instructors and in order to gain access to these installations you only have to cough up the modest sum of 1,000 pesos a month. It’s good to see a hospital which focuses on promoting healthy habits instead of handing out painkillers all the time.
My sense of surprise deepened when I saw the children’s ward and the maternity ward: the sterile white walls and typical hospital mood was nowhere to be seen, in fact the walls were bright and colourful, there were toys and dolls and rooms where children worked on handicrafts and practiced their hymns for Christmas. The rooms were impressively decorated by a deaf member of the community, using various different techniques. I couldn’t believe that such a magical place existed, even less that it was a hospital.
I think that what makes Támesis so special, aside from the amazing landscapes, are the people who give their best for the development of their town and to create a form of tourism that is not only sustainable with regards nature but also responsible when it comes to the community and society as a whole. Everyone who lives here is united in the search for the common good and in their challenge to preserve their local customs. Their goal is not to attract millions of tourists, but to ensure that those who do visit are able to interact with the community and have direct contact with nature.
We know that Medellin has been recognised as the most innovative city in the world, but clearly it has infected other parts of Antioquia.
For more photos, click here.
Written by Carolina
Translated by Azzam