(Marina Santa Marta, Santa Marta, Colombia)
Here we are in Colombia on Canada Day! Although there’s not a slice of free cake to go collect downtown, we still had one stellar day. (And as a private hurrah, Greg didn’t shoot off any flares in an attempt to create a firework display for us. Because I’m sure that would have went over real well with our M-16 toting neighbours.)
Today we ventured up to Minca. Up being the appropriate adverb. Minca is a quaint, yet bustling, town located in the Sierra Nevada mountains of Colombia. We set off in search of it for the promise of coffee farms and waterfalls.
Step one of the journey was a walk to “Minca Station” in downtown Santa Marta. The walk took us father into Santa Marta than we had previous ambled. Through local (non-tourist) markets, and to Greg’s delight, right into the more industrious section that had streets lined with hardware stores. An inquiry was made after a replacement breaker for our windlass with no luck, but now Greg knew where to come for further searching.
Minca Station is simply an intersection where vehicles for hire congregate and wait for gringos like us to wander in. The simplicity and efficiency are really quite remarkable. Once we got within a couple blocks I had many helpful passerbys point me in the right direction without any inquiry by me.
We loaded up in our designated car and headed up into the mountains. Once we arrived in Minca we were immediately approached by a gang of moto boys eager to take us where we wanted. For a price obviously. I happily negotiated a fee in my extremely limited Spanish and we peeled off on the ever deteriorating roads. First stop La Victoria.
La Victoria is a coffee farm that has been in operation since 1892. That’s well over a century and they still use machinery from the very beginning. Our tour began at the pipeline that brings raw, hand-picked, beans down from the mountain side. From there they’re hulled, gelatin separated, sorted, categorized by quality based on density, dried based on quality (low in the sun, high in the mechanical dryer), then bagged for export. All organic, no chemicals. Pretty interesting if you ask me. They even compost the husks and other organic by-products to be used as fertilizer on the crops. A full-circle operation. Powered by 100 employees in high season and a waterwheel from two centuries ago.
Our tour ended appropriate drinking coffee and discussing James’ (Colombia’s star soccer player) dreamboat qualities with our young, blushing tour guide. Loved it.
Back on our motos we ripped down to the kaskada (waterfall), Pozo Azul. Now not to be disrespectful of Colombia’s sights and all visitors before and after us, but…. I’ve seen better. Don’t get me wrong, the waterfall and surrounding rainforest was beautiful, but I’ve seen more impressive waterfalls under the highway in Powell River, BC. Eagle River, am I right Betty?
Like clockwork, the afternoon rainshower – this is too light of a word, it was torrential rainfall – started up while we were at the waterfall and we raced back to Minca to take shelter and watch the roadways flow.
After a ridiculously delicious lunch in a hostel in town we made our way back to Santa Marta to find it had also been hit by the rain. The first rainfall we’ve seen in Santa Marta in all our time here. Streets were flooded, and to Doug’s chagrin this created flowing, dirty rivers of garbage. Streams we had to wade through at times (very short times) to make our way home from Minca Station.