Thu 2 Jan 2014 15:41
Looking back at Santa Marta from Minca. You can see the island off the harbour in the middle top of the picture.

The mountains called so we got up with the sun and walked into town to find a colectivo, a sort of shared taxi, to take us to them.

Our rather bouncy colectivo

Stopping and starting with the traffic as we headed out we got to see more of the city. The busy taxi and motorbike filled streets gave way to residential areas with tower blocks, 

which in turn gave way to simple houses on dirt roads clinging to the hill sides. 

We wound up, and up, and up... squeezed into the back of the bouncing colectivo I kept getting glimpses of superb views as we went along ridgeways and crossed valleys. And then we were there, tumbling out, stretching legs. There were people offering to take us on motorbikes up to the old coffee plantation, about a 2 1/2 hour walk from the village, and folks offering to be guides, but we decided we'd just wonder along by ourselves and see what we could see.

It was shaded and cool, with a breeze flowing up the valley. The green was easy on our eyes after blue seas and bright white light in the city

We stopped for a drink on our way up and again for some lunch on the way back at a delightfully simple cafe. The kids were intrigued by the loo - flushed by pouring water with a jug from a barrel. We'd been recommended the cafe as "the one with the man in the cowboy hat" and sure enough, he had a black leather cowboy hat on as he chopped up bits of cow to barbecue. A lower leg of the cow, complete with hoof, had been left hanging from the roof as a sort of identification system for the meat. The meal was great - beef, chorizo, yucca and potatoes, served on one dish for 7 of us to eat from. To drink there was Colombian beer, Aguila, or non-alchoholic 'Malta' a very sweet malt drink, tasting a bit like sweet stout shouldn't.


We heard a lot of bird activity in the trees around us but couldn't spot any until a cafe worker pointed out these relatives of the Toucans enjoying berries above us

Thanks to Sarah Field Trip for the pic!

As we continued to climb we could hear the sound of water running near by and, following a path just for people, motorbikes and burros, we came across the river tumbling down the hillside. Across a rather worryingly rickety bridge there was a path down to a fall cascading into a pool we could swim in - it was freezing! Reminded me of swimming in England, that "oh no it's reaching my belly" stage and the shock when you put your head under. Bt it was lovely swimming in fresh water and we appreciated being able to cool off.

When we arrived back to the village, a little foot sore, we were glad to see a colectivo waiting and bundled ourselves in for the bouncy trip back down ( https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/81109747/minca.mp4 ). 

Instead of just a backdrop to the city the mountains were alive to us now. We'd spoken with the people who make it their home, we'd listened to the birds as we walked under the shade of the trees, we'd immersed ourselves in the crisp cold water and we'd looked back down at the hot dusty city from on high.