A mountain escape and a birthday surprise

My friends Autumn and Kristen have been raving about Minca, and specifically the hostel Casa Loma for months. With a few weeks free after I’d finished teaching and before I go home to the United States, I knew I wanted to go there. I started planning back in early May. Then I asked my boyfriend Ramiro when his birthday was, and it was perfect timing. I told him to take off 3 days from work, but kept the destination a surprise.

He was so excited the night before he told me he didn’t sleep at all! Luckily the bus ride from Cartagena to Santa Marta is around 5 hours, so he got some shut eye enroute. From the bus station in Santa Marta we took a jeep to the little tourist town of Minca.

It’s amazing to feel the air change as the jeep drives up into the mountains. The humidity starts to thin and the temperature drops, never low enough to need a jacket during the day, but to a comfortable level where you can walk at a reasonable pace without sweating. I can’t believe this haven was here all year and I only just now at the end decided to visit it.

img_5909Breakfast spot with a wonderful view from Casa Loma.

Casa Loma was spectacular! Well, besides the walk to get up there. First a steep dirt hill and then about 10 flights of rock steps, you really have to earn the view from the top. But oh what a view! When it was clear we could see the city of Santa Marta below and all the way to the Caribbean.


Besides the view, we had nice company and a very comfortable room. But by far the best part, as any Casa Loma guest will tell you, is the amazing vegetarian food. The first night we ate a huge helping of lasagna, the second a vegetable stew with delicious peanut sauce and coconut rice, and the third (my favorite) lentil stuffed avocados and baked potatoes. We were in food heaven the whole trip!

On the first and second days, we went for hikes to see some waterfalls, the Pozo Azul and the Marinka. Great for photos, even better for swimming and jumping. I was too scared to jump, but Ramiro was teaching everyone else how to do it in style. I stayed on the sidelines to be the videographer.

see my videos

We also visited a coffee plantation, my second time and Ramiro’s first. He had a million questions and got along well with all the workers there with his Venezuelan charm. They were joking about gringa accents and I couldn’t stop blushing.

Here’s some more pictures from the trip:

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