Jack and Jean were the two very first friends I made in Colombia when I moved to Bogota in 2012. They are the sweetest, most adventurous people I’ve ever had the pleasure of knowing as well as living and travelling with. Jean is also the person who gave me the nickname Sarepa, so I have a lot to thank her for.
Since we all came to Colombia to work at a summer camp in Bogota, they have continued living in Colombia for the last three and a half years and now run two hostels: the insanely popular Casa Elemento in Minca and also their new adventure the Tayrona Sailing Hostel.
You know what life envy is, right? Well, you are about to experience it, because these guys are having an amazing time in the country and it is surely going to make you want to jump on a plane to Colombia right now! Here’s Jean’s take on living in Colombia.
Name(s): Jean Jardine and Jack Taylor
Country/City of origin: Great Britain
Where you live in Colombia: Above Minca, Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta
Can you tell me a little about yourselves and how you both ended up living in Colombia?
We have backgrounds in outdoor education and tourism which matched an opportunity to join a friend teaching English to Colombian kids through outdoor activities meant to open minds. We bought two one way tickets and haven’t looked back! This in turn led to meeting more great people and exploring Colombia, Ecaudor and Peru by motorbike….loving this country and never leaving! And here we are today….3 and a half years later with many more to come.
Working very hard on our first day at the summer camp
What was your first impression of Colombia and did it match your expectations?
Well, when you think Colombia your first thoughts go to Caribbean and danger! But oh boy, there is so much more of the first and so much less of the second! Geographically diverse, I would never have imagined being at 5,200metres on a glacier at 7am then descending by motorbike through various ecosystems to 28metres by 3pm. Stopping every five minutes awing at the views and thanking locals for their hospitality as they invite us into their homes for a ‘tinto’ or an ice cream, feeling at home in a land so far from our own.
Our time living, travelling and working together
You guys work at the popular hostel Casa Elemento, can you tell us about that and what inspired you to live and work there?
The inspiration…..challenge by choice. We chose the challenge and now give people the choice to challenge themselves here, too. The Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta is the highest coastal mountain range in the world, home to all sorts of wildlife, 42 endemic species of birds and emerging from a troublesome past. As a force of four, combining skills and love for Colombia working with the locals to open up an area once known for drugs and dirty deeds to a destination for only those intrigued to see this pristine jungle for themselves, enjoy our company and what we offer and wake up to the sounds of monkeys. Everyday is a challenge for us, as we provide the full package, which is why we are all here providing and living our motto….adventurous relaxation.
Image: Casa Elemento/Facebook
As if that wasn’t already keeping you busy enough, you’ve also created a sailing hostel! Amazing!! How did that come about and how can people jump on board?
This area is like no other in the world. As tourism professionals, we’re taking people from sky to sea, exclusively opening up the coastline…just casually swapping a bus for a 44ft sailing yacht. Tayrona Sailing Hostel is a new venture, website on its way but we’re live on Facebook, and alive in the water. Sailing alongside dolphins, sleeping under the stars and snorkeling in the big blue! We are excited by this and excited to offer it to those who get in touch.
Image: Tayrona Sailing Hostel/Facebook
What’s your favourite Colombian plato tipico?
Well well, as a born Scot, breakfast is number one and the ‘bandeja paisa’ has put up a pretty good fight……beans (though of course not Heinz), sausage, egg, strangely rice….not bad. But its the classic pechuga, chicken breast, that somehow no one can do as good as the Colombians.
What’s one of the more challenging aspects of living in Colombia?
No Heinz baked beans!! Cultural differences of course, time keeping, communication, putting cheese on a fruit salad, 2 hour lunch breaks….you know! Just be ready for one of the biggest joys to be one of the biggest challenges.
What’s your favourite arepa?
Anything oozing with cheese!
Do you have any tips for people wanting to follow their dreams to Colombia?
Don’t book that return ticket, you wont need it!
Image: Tayrona Sailing Hostel/Facebook
How can people keep in touch and follow what you’re up to in the country?
I leave the blogging to the pros, but 100% dedication to Casa Elemento and Tayrona Sailing Hostel means through these you will find us: www.casaelemento.com and the Tayrona Sailing Hostel Facebook page.