I don’t know what to think about Minca. For a start Minca, Santa Marta isn’t really in Santa Marta: it’s a deceiving 2 hour drive uphill from the city in a jeep. Famous hostel, Casa Elemento, Minca isn’t really in Minca: it’s an hour drive up a death-road and sits at the top of a mountain, almost 3 hours from Santa Marta! The waterfalls and coffee plantations you can visit in Minca aren’t really in Minca or anywhere near Casa Elemento either, they require a nauseating 45 minute jeep ride around the mountain side. You get my drift? Minca is confusing place and after taking a day and night out of our schedule to squeeze a visit to this place in, I still don’t quite get it.
Ok so you can’t do everything right when you travel, and amongst mixed reviews of this place we decided to take the expensive trip up into the mountains because we’d heard about Casa Elemento hostel and in short, liked the big hammock boasting a 360 mountain top view that appeared in so many travellers photos… The things you do for a great Instagram post hey? Halfway through our journey we began to question this choice. The roads were deathly and our Santa Marta hangovers didn’t add to the anxiety as our ‘experienced’ driver bolted it up the mountainside like a spider avoiding the sheer drops to either side with wheel spins and inches to spare (his nickname, ‘Spider Man’ now became clear…). Great for adrenalin lovers, not so great for 3 young girls!
Important Tip Alert… When we finally arrived at Casa Elemento we met fellow travellers looking sleepy and sporting burnt calves from their choice of transport up the mountain-side! My number 1 piece of advice if you do head up here is therefore, do not take a motor taxi if you don’t want an injury! Greetings over, we headed straight for the panoramic hammock to rest after our hectic journey but unfortunately, due to hazy skies, there was no view, other than a sea of cloud. As you can see, not the most stunning photo I’ve ever taken!
Putting our negative experiences aside, we decided to take an organized day trip to La Victoria Coffee Plantation and the waterfalls and it sounded like our day was about to turn itself around. Little did we know that after another 40 mins in the death-car with Spider Man, the heavens would open and our neat trip to the waterfalls would turn into getting drenched from a leak in the jeep window instead. Oh Colombia! Waterfalls out and it was finally lunchtime! Food always improves your mood, right? Well it does when the cafe you choose offers marijuana for dessert. We politely declined but the hilarity of this bizarre hippie location lifted our spirits and Spider took us onto the coffee plantation where our day turned into a caffeine fueled, cake eating delight. Turns out unlimited fresh coffee before a tour makes you extremely awake and excited to learn all about how this legal stimulant is made, and finishing it off with a piece of home-baked coffee cake made the afternoon even sweeter. Success! Well, until my purse was temporarily misplaced, but that’s another story!
An evening in Casa Elemento had never been so highly anticipated after the days escapades. Due to the rain, even Spider Man’s driving experience had us stuck on a cliff edge in clay mud for a good half hour so when we arrived back at the hostel, a home cooked, communal dinner and early night was the best medicine to fix our Minca mishaps. We woke for sunrise on the super-hammock and with the cloud cleared, Minca and Casa Elemento didn’t seem to stressful after all. What have I learnt from this little experience? You can’t enjoy absolutely everything when you’re out of your comfort zone, oh and you also can’t count on the weather!