Sunday, 30 November 2014


Up in the cloud-covered forests of the Sierra Nevada, far from the bustling heat of the city below, lies a small Colombian village. It has all the features of a typical coastal town - brightly painted restaurants, yellow taxi cabs, motorbikes parked on every corner - the only difference is the beautiful tranquility that transcends this location. A place for recharging your batteries, taking a deep breath and enjoying the simpler things in life.

Santa Marta
We went out on a hot, sticky afternoon, already tired from the two-hour bus journey along the coast from Barranquilla to Santa Marta. After having made it to the edge of the city, we spent a good half an hour negotiating with taxi drivers in order to take us the 45-minute trip that remained. When we finally found a willing candidate, we squeezed into the rather restricted space, and held on tight for the muscle-cramping, bone-rattling ride up into the hills. Never again will I complain about small potholes! And the journey didn't stop there. As we stepped out to stretch our legs, we were greeted with the news that our hostel lay another 20 minutes walk up the road - at the top of a hill. So, donning our rucksacks and getting our hiking-heads on, we tiredly trudged up the path that would finally lead us to our resting place.
Minca at dusk.

But when we got there, it became apparent that all the effort had most definitely been worth it. Green forest spread out almost as far as the eye could see, with the shining towers and beaches of Santa Marta glimmering in the distance. As the sun set, the colours changed to grey, then orange, then yellow, and pink, with the cloud layer covering the foliage that reflected what was happening above. We all sat down and took a moment to take it all in. This was what it had all been for!

Bananas to go!
And the rest of the weekend followed suit. The beauty of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta is astounding, and there is nothing better to appreciate it than to wander along the dirt tracks that link the different hostels, coffee plantations and waterfalls that populate the region. As a group, we marvelled at the sheer size and variety of plants and animals that could be seen - bamboo clusters bigger than houses; bananas growing wild; huge leaf-carrying ants making their procession across the path, and butterflies of all colours fluttering through the trees, coming gently to perch on a nearby leaf. The misty coolness that flows through the trees gives a beautifully relaxed atmosphere that was only enhanced by the friendly chatter of other travellers at the hostel, where we ate together in a cabin high in the hills.

Overall, what Minca gave me was a chance to escape the noise and business of the city. Don't get me wrong, I absolutely love the life that can be found in those streets, so full of music, movement and laughter. But sometimes what you need is a place to be away from the world: to sit back, relax and reflect on life and all its quirks. And that is exactly what Minca offers.

Some more photos from the trip:

The Marinca waterfall.
Talking trees: I'm sorry. Thank you. I LOVE YOU.
A different perspective - through the bridge.
Outsized insects - scary spider.

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