Honeymoon, part 3: Minca

 Ironically, our favorite part of our Honeymoon was the most Rustic part.

And by “Rustic”, I mean we didn’t even have hot water.  

The showers were very, very cold and the accommodations quite basic… but we both wished we had planned to stay far more than just 2 nights at the El Mirador Ecotouristica Hostel in  Minca, Colombia.

El Mirador Ecotouristica Hostel

El Mirador means “the Viewpoint” and it would be difficult to come up with a better name for this place which overlooked the city of Santa Marta and the Caribbean Sea.

Add in Fernando & Margarita (the owners, plus our excellent tour guides & cooks), their young boys, and their pets… and Minca may very well be the happiest place on earth.

Clockwise from Top: Fernando & Margarita, Their Dog Blanco, and Mike with the Australian travelers we met

Over our two days there, we sat for hours in their open-air cafe, petting the dog & cat, playing with their pet parrot, sipping on our beverages of choice (coffee, hot cocoa, fresh juice, or beer), and enjoying the panoramic views and mild climate, much cooler than the weather at sea-level.

As a vegetarian, it can often be hard to find a balanced meal in a rural area (and while speaking a different language too!), so imagine my surprise when I learned that Margarita was a Pescatarian herself!

My meals at the El Mirador were fantastic, including a homemade Veggie Burger, a side salad, and fried Plantains from the restaurant’s menu.  Margarita also made me a few dishes that weren’t on the menu – a lentil stew, boiled potatoes & plantains, and some of the best (oniony!) rice I have ever had.

Clockwise from Top Left: Fried Plantains, Lentil Stew, Fresh Juice, Breakfast of Eggs, Arepa con Queso, Artisinal Bread, and Guava Juice.

This healthy, hearty food filled us up with plenty of energy for adventures in the area.

Our first day in Minca, Fernando took us (along with his daughter and an Australian couple) to see a couple of the town’s highlights – a Coffee Plantation & a secret Waterfall.

La Victoria Coffee Farm

I was so excited to find out that the the coffee farm Fernando was taking us to was both Shade-grown and Organic, as I wish all coffee farms were.  I got even more than we bargained for though since La Victoria Coffee Farm is also practically a “working museum”, with equipment in use that is over 100 years old!

Their old machinery includes a century-old hydro-electric power generator (below, bottom left) and pipes that cover miles of field.  The pipes transport the fruit from the field to the factory where the beans are washed, soaked, sorted, and later dried.

La Victoria actually sells the bulk of their coffee un-roasted since the highest paying clientele tend to prefer to roast their own.  They did have one teeny tiny roasting machine for finishing the coffee that is sold in their gift shop, of which I bought several bags!

Waterfall

Sadly, I didn’t have my camera with me for one of the most amazing moments of our honeymoon – swimming in an off-the-beaten-path waterfall that Fernando took us to.  I left my camera at the edge of the trail before climbing up a muddy hill to get to the falls, which you can see in the distance by the blue arrow below.

When returning to the path, Fernando took us along a different route that required us to climb over rocks while hanging onto dangling tree roots for balance.  I was so scared, but Fernando patiently showed me which footholds to step in with my Pie Izquierdo (Left Foot) and Pie Derecho (Right Foot) until I’d made it back.

It’s funny how when looking back, the moments that challenged me the most became the highlights.

Hiking Minca

The next day, our last day in Minca, we went for a hike around the town, which is arranged in an easy-to-navigate circle.  When looking at the map, we didn’t realize how steep the paths would become in the 3 o’clock area of the map.

We would have had to have gotten a very early start in order to complete the entire loop.  Instead, we had a goal in mind of hiking to La Finca de Semilla (a farm, hostel, and restaurant) which was about a 2-hour hike in each direction and was recommended to us by Margarita.  The Spanish word “Semilla” translates to “Seed” and the word “Finca” translates to “Farm” or “Plantation”.

Yes, we were heading to a Finca in Minca!

 We walked through the small “downtown” area then followed the pot-hole-ridden dirt road for a while.  We were under shade almost the entire time and enjoyed passing by the occasional stream.

 We turned off the main road when we saw a sign for the Finca, then began hiking up, up, up a narrow path.

The views of the foothills were incredible – like a giant bowl full of greenery.

 

And we met quite a few animals along the way.

Finca La Semilla

Soon we started seeing even more signs for the Finca, but we still had a ways to go…

We rounded a bend, crossed a stream, and went up some stone steps.

  

Finally, we arrived to find a happy, cozy place that was well worth the hike.

There were chickens and dogs and quite a few kittens!

We had worked up quite an appetite on our hike so we asked if we could order lunch.  When I found out that they serve only one set menu each day, I was nervous that my vegetarian meal might be slim pickings… but it turned out I had nothing to worry about since the owner of Finca de Semilla was also a Vegetarian, and so was the daily plate!

For about $5 a piece, we were served mugs of lemonade and plates of rice, beans, and a gorgeous salad – the perfect fuel for hiking!

Even better than the food was the company…

…One of the kittens from inside the house came out to join us! 

After we ate, we didn’t want to leave.  We lingered in the hammocks, played with the animals, and sipped on mugs of Hot Cacao (grown on the farm!) for at least another hour before making the hike back to El Mirador.

I’d love to hear from you!

What’s your favorite *small* town?

Do you prefer Country or City vacations?