* credit to Phil Morris for the title of this blog
We fancied a bit more time in the jungle and had heard from lots of people on our Ciudad Perdida trip that a town called Minca was the place to go. After a bit of research and chatting to other travellers we worked out that Minca was quite busy with tourists and, as a town itself, wasn’t that nice. It’s the nature and wildlife around the town which is what people really go for so we decided to head to another town in the hills called Bonda and from there we would take a trip into the jungle to a hostel called Finca Carpe Diem.
We headed to Santa Marta market to catch a local bus out of the city. It was cool seeing the market: the rows of fishmongers, butchers, shops selling plastic bowls and stores selling academic books. I love that each street has its own industry – one has a row of cobblers sat out on the street with their ancient sewing machines, hammers and nails. On the bus, vendors hop on and off selling all things: clementines in tightly strung nets, marijuana paste (?!), water, biscuits, holders for your SatNav.
When we reached Bonda there were some young guys hanging out on their motorbikes. One guy with a mullet, the obvious leader, wheeled his bike over and gestured for his pal to join him. We hopped on the back of their bikes, they kicked them into action and we were off, bouncing around on the back as we headed up a long dirt track uphill. The scatter of houses gave way to forest and I looked around me at the lush green scenery as we sped along, me clinging onto the metal bar at the back of the bike.
The hostel where we were staying was an old coffee farm, converted by a Belgium couple who had made their home in the hills. There were paved pathways leading to hammocks, thatched huts where you could sleep and even a pool. We spent the afternoon relaxing, reading, and listening to the intermittent sound of crickets which would suddenly sing in deafening chorus as one and then die down just as quickly.
We climb up to a viewpoint above the hostel: a steep half an hour scramble uphill where we’re rewarded with a distant silver view of the sea, hazy Santa Marta and the jungle stretching towards and behind us. On the way down I spot another bloody snake, its tail whipping off into the undergrowth and I stomp and clap my hands for the rest of the way back. You can imagine that I look really cool and relaxed doing this.
We hike up to Poso del Amor: a beautiful waterfall where we’re totally alone. We leave our stuff on the rocks and swim in the natural pools, explore the streams that cascade down the hill. Moz jumps in and I follow, cautiously, a little lower down. We sit barefoot on the sun-warmed rocks to dry off.
The next day we head to another waterfall, following the river upwards in the opposite direction. The walk is beautiful and it’s fun to be alone in the jungle, that is until we round a bend and are faced with two angry dogs who run barking at us; our way to the waterfall is barred and we don’t want to risk trying to pass them so we turn around and head back down the hill a little disappointed. On our return, however, we come to a clearing where the track comes close to the river and where there are some mules tethered to a tree and sleeping dogs flat on the ground. A sign tells us we’ve stumbled upon the hostel’s neighbours: some cacao farmers. We take our boots off and wade through the river to be greeted by the smiling owner, Horacio, who shows us around his farm, lets us taste the fruit of the cacao plant, sits us down to peel the dried beans which we then grind by cranking a wooden handle.
Back on the way to the hostel we follow signs saying “jacuzzi” to a hidden pool where water runs down the rocks and pummels your shoulders and back.
In the evenings there is the smell of woodsmoke around the fire and in the morning hot arepas, homemade break and delicious coffee from the farm.
Next stop: back to the coast for some sun, sea and sand!