20th April to 21st April 2014
20.04.2014 - 21.04.2014
In the morning we were rudely awaken at 6.30 by a procession going on outside with a full band of drums and brass for Easter Sunday celebrations. We got ready quickly to try to see it in action (as we couldn’t sleep anymore anyway!), but by the time we got downstairs it had already finished and the service had moved into the cathedral. So we enquired about our bus to Cartagena, but the hotel clerk couldn’t get through to the bus company so we wandered around in search of breakfast. We passed by another hostel to get some information and found a leaflet for a place called Minca above Santa Marta, which was supposed to be really chilled out and good for birdwatching. So even though Matt had problems deviating from the plan, we decided to head for Minca instead of going to Cartagena in order to relax after the lost city trek. We packed up our stuff and headed out to the shared taxi rank, which wasn’t really a taxi at all but a banged up jeep that only left when it was full. It all felt slightly dodgy, but in the end we left and had a really nice driver who was telling us about the area. We also bumped into a group of young teenagers who tried to stop cars to get money from the drivers, saying that they are employed by the local government to clean up the roads – they even had cards and uniforms! However, in the three years that our driver had been doing this trip he had never once seen them doing any cleaning!
After a steep journey up the mountain, we arrived in Minca which was a really small lively town that was positioned right on a river. And then began the hunt for rooms. As we were at the end of Easter Week the place was still quite full, but after phoning around and walking around for a while we managed to find a hostel with space called Oscar’s Place that supposedly had a pool. We made full use of the cool Colombian ‘minutos’ system where you pay 10-15p a minute to make phone calls from someone else’s mobile. We were told that the walk to the hostel was 15minutes, but what we didn’t know was that it was an up-and-down path through the woods which was quite a challenge with our massive backpacks. We arrived sweaty and ready to jump in the pool, until we found out that the ‘pool’ was more of a small pond complete with tadpoles so we lost the urge quite quickly! We also discovered that the room the guy said was available wasn’t, but he kindly put us in their ‘superior’ double for the same price as the original room. This ‘superior’ room didn’t have any electricity and only had an outside shower on full show to all who walked by (!), but it was very romantic with candles in the room. Despite its back-to-basics style, the hostel was gorgeous and surrounded by trees with stunning views across the mountains and to the sea, hammocks to chill out in and some very friendly staff including the stoner-owner Oscar. After checking in, we spent an hour or so doing our washing by hand working our way through all the dirty clothes from the lost city trek – fun! For the rest of the afternoon we rested out walked-out legs by lying in the hammocks and chatting to a friendly couple from Germany (Luis and Jana). We were planning on going into town to either eat there or bring some food back to cook, but felt so lazy that we just ate at the hostel. We also got chatting to a really nice English couple (Becky and Dave), before heading to bed early so that we could wake up for birdwatching.
We decided to do the birdwatching ourselves as the suggested guide in town had some bad reviews and other ones were far too expensive (the town didn’t have a cash machine so we would have completely run out of money!). We headed out of our room at the ungodly hour of 5.30 and wandered around the hostel’s large amount of land. It wasn’t the most successful experience, partly because we were followed by the hostel’s three dogs that seemed to want to act as our protectors. However, loud dogs running through the bushes aren’t very conducive to a successful birdwatching experience! We did see some lovely birds though, particularly a beautiful woodpecker. The rest of the day was spent dossing in the hammocks again, reading and chatting for a few hours with the English couple. Towards the end of the afternoon Matt, Becky and Dave went into town to buy some ingredients for cooking a communal spaghetti, while Susanne stretched out some yoga overlooking the beautiful mountains. Once the stunning sunset across the mountains had passed, Matt and Becky started to cook in the outside kitchen with only torch light and candles which was quite a nice experience. We actually managed to produce quite a tasty meal and it felt good to actually cook again! After a couple of beers and a game of chess, it was off to bed to get up early for our onward journey to Cartagena.