Into the Sierra Madre Mountains, coffee, cacao and beautiful Minca

The Colombian journey continues from Rincon   .The Colombian journey continues on the Caribbean coast. Cartagena and Rincon


January 23-26, 2020

The bus pulled into Santa Marta which we assumed was the last stop so when not everyone got off, we waited. Then the driver hollered “SANTA MARTA!” Oh. Okay. I guess that’s us.

We wandered into the bus station, hoping for an ATM as I’d only just realised our next accommodation also did not accept credit cards. There’s no ATM in Minca and there certainly wasn’t one in Rincon. We didn’t even see one in Onofre where we caught the bus. Who ever said you can go anywhere with a credit card, never travelled to small town Colombia. 😉 Lucky for us there was a nice secure ATM at the back of the terminal. Unlucky for me it didn’t like my debit card so I had to use credit. Oh well. Pay it off right away and there’s no interest.

While wandering we passed what looked like a dead cat. Or maybe a small dog? I don’t know as I didn’t want to look too closely. Nobody else seemed bothered by it. Weird.

More wandering, looking for anything that would indicate a bus to Minca and I finally asked a man in a uniform. Eventually we figured out we’d missed the last bus so our only option was a taxi. 60,000 pesos isn’t bad for the drive the poor guy had to do. It’s only about 22 km but you can’t go faster than 40 km per hour on those incredibly windy roads. Once in town he dropped us off at an intersection. That’s as far as he’d go. Okay then. We hopped out to be immediately confronted with moto taxi drivers. Once we established that it was more like an hour walk, not 30 minutes, we told them we’d have dinner first and asked for their recommendation. That was interesting. I asked for a menu. Hmmm. Turns out all they had was chicken. OK? Sure, why not? We like chicken. Next thing you know she appeared with a large plate of chicken cut up in about 6 pieces along with some boiled potatoes and yucca and a dipping sauce. Nice. We looked for cutlery and she handed us each a plastic glove. I guess we eat with our hands then. Regardless, it was delicious and cheap. The bottle of water was 4,000 and the dinner 11,000 (less than $5)

After passing on another couple of offers for a moto taxi, we found the first guy who offered as he was first and was kind enough to wait. A little anxious, we each handed our driver our bag and he tucked it in front of him while we climbed on the back. We drove up, up and up, the windy, muddy, pot holed road and I began to wonder WHERE this place was and if I gave him the right name?! Upon arrival we were greeted by a few dogs and our host who did find our names. Phew. We thanked our drivers and paid them.

Our host, Manuel, showed us around the Finca San Rafael, offered us coffee or chocolate and said a bunch of stuff we didn’t understand. Again. I REALLY wish I could speak Spanish. It was dark so it was hard to see the place but we looked forward to morning and the beautiful views from this coffee, chocolate, fruit farm in the middle of nowhere. No wifi either 😀

The church in Minca.

Friday January 24

HAPPY BIRTHDAY to my daughter MELANIE!! Much as I don’t mind being without wifi, I hope Melanie realises I’m thinking about her and haven’t forgotten her birthday

After breakfast we decided to walk back into town (it really is only a half our walk but we were glad for the moto taxis as it was dark and it’s uphill and we really didn’t know where we were going) and then to the Marinka waterfall. Nile, the fellow doing the English bird watching and coffee tours, told us of a shop we could visit for a drink and use their wifi so we decided to pop in on the way so I could wish Melanie a happy birthday. Good thing we did as I found out Melanie’d had an accident and broken her heel in two places as well as being covered in bruises. She was in extreme pain and needed to talk to me. Poor girl! I finally got to talk to her on the phone for a bit but the staff at the shop were looking annoyed so we wrapped it up and decided to top up our sim cards so I could keep in touch. THEN we headed to the water fall. Through town and up, up, up hill for an hour or so and we finally arrived, hot, sweaty and ready for a nice swim. The water was COLD but really refreshing. By the time we got back through town again and up, up, up hill to the farm we were pooped and ready to chill for a while before our fish dinner.

Marinka waterfall

The road to the waterfall is a nice walk. Only the last 20 minutes or so is steep.

Anita trying to figure out how to cross the creek that runs across the road

The next day we enjoyed watching the birds and enjoying the surroundings and then joined a tour of the finca (farm). Turns out Nile had too much to drink the night before so wouldn’t be guiding today. Manuel speaks only Spanish but lucky for us, Matt, a fellow guest, was willing to interpret. Nice!!

We weren’t prepared for mountain climbing. I guess that’s what you should expect on a coffee farm. I thought I’d sworn off climbing mountains yet every trip I end up climbing something.

We followed Manuel up the mountain, stopping for explanations along the way about coffee and cocoa. All the way up to a view point at 1,500 metres. That was all very fine and dandy but now we had to climb back DOWN again. I hate that part. I had a solid stick with me that really helps for going down and it wasn’t as bad as I thought.

Back at the finca, Manuel treated us to a chocolate facial…or where ever else one felt like smearing it. It was really nice and I’m sure I look 15 years younger. A little later Manuel made a point of showing me his water filter. I thought it was kind of odd until he pointed out that it came from Rotary Calgary. Nice! OOOh, it’s from Canada!

After a nice swim in the pool we relaxed for a while before heading into town again. The King of Burgers had been recommended but they weren’t very friendly and seemed down right annoyed that we might want to eat there so we left.

The Lazy Cat was much nicer, also had wifi so we could connect with home again to find out Melanie was settling in ok with her pain somewhat under control. Our meal was delicious too! On the street a big blue and red macaw flew right in front of us and perched on the power line. By the time I thought to get my camera out, it flew away.

Another gorgeous day in the country side of Minca!

She prepares some amazing meals in this kitchen

Coffee beans drying on the patio

The view from the top of the coffee farm

The road up to the coffee farm

Hummingbirds entertaining us while we eat breakfast

The road (4×4 track) to the finca. You can see it off to the left there.

Manuel pointing out the stages of cacao

The road to the finca

View of the finca from below


Roasting cacao

It’s hard to capture but this tree is full of toucans.

So many birds!

The next day we took our time preparing to leave and just wandered the property. Manuel took it upon himself to help us find birds and was intent on finding the elusive toucan.  He wants the big ones, not the small ones as we’d seen several of those.  Even got pictures although most are blurry :/  We heard the big toucan,  along with the howler monkeys but never spotted them.

After saying our goodbyes we loaded our bags and walked the 1/2 hour to Minca where we caught the collectivo to Santa Marta. They kindly dropped us off right at the Dreamer hostel. Nice!

The afternoon was spent just relaxing, enjoying the pool and preparing for our 2 night trip to Tayrona early the next morning.

3 thoughts on “Into the Sierra Madre Mountains, coffee, cacao and beautiful Minca

  1. Pingback: Tayrona. A little slice of paradise on Colombia’s Caribbean coast. | Where in the world is Grandma?

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