Encontramos ORO en Minca

Where to begin...

My day has started just before 7 am. I took the short and muddy walk down from La Casa de Andres to Oscar´s house to recieve some therapuetic Shiatsu. His porch not only overlooks Colombian jungle canopy but also Santa Marta. I much prefer the city from here.

Oscar in his playground
 After some morning relaxation, I find the boys playing chess. Juan Carlos is grinding up his first ever batch of coffee from his finca. Juan Carlos is a Colombian export who grew up in the states and has since returned to his homeland to persue his finca dreams. The coffee smells and tastes delicious but we all agree the next batch could be a bit stronger. Before we even have breakfast we all try the raw cacao that we spent the greater part of yesterday preparing. In Oscar´s beautiful open kitchen, all of us un-shelled, grinded, mixed, cooked and baked until the end result was cacao cookie wookies, truffles con almendras and raw cacao made with panela (sugar cane). It was one of those beautiful days where I ate myself silly from start to finish. We were a bunch of mad scientists experimenting and discussing with pure elation over our trail and errors. It felt like the beginning of a movie where the prospects of Colombian cocaine trade are just discovered...only our ¨C´s¨ are coffee and cacao. Falling in love with Minca was the easiest thing I´ve done in weeks.

After spending time in the heat and rain, the coolness of Minca is more than refreshing. It is cold enough for me to sleep with socks on and upon waking the cold kissed my face. My bed feels like a warm cacoon, reminding me of Colorado at this time of year.

Intoxicated with enchantment, I haven´t gone longer than five minutes without a mug in my hand. Filled with liquid treats of coffee, aromatic lemongrass tea, hot chocolate or panela tea, having my fingers wrapped around a hot mug is a fondling that brings me comfort and joy. My senses are head over heels in love with this place and the magic of Oscar´s house. Overlooking Santa Marta and the vast jungle, I feel like I´m peering over a scene from a Paulo Coehlo book.

Oscar instructs to me close his eyes as he puts fresh honey comb in my mouth. I have never eaten so fresh and raw before. It makes a typical grocery store and need for a refridgerater seem elementary. FRESH EVERYTHING. Whatever you dream here is possible. ¨All you need is good food, good shelter and a good partner.¨ This is the quote of the morning. Oscar changes his initial statement to ¨a partner¨ because even something like this you can work on.

It is hard and overwhelming trying to put into words the feeling of first arriving at a place like Minca. At this time of year it is so lush and alive. There is a gentle mist hugging the mountains and during the golden hour, the warm lights bounce from tree to tree creating a rainbow effect throughout the jungle. It feels nothing less than magical, an undiscovered fairyland.

Andres y Esmay
 Once again, within hours of arriving we have found ourselves at thehelm of locals. Oscar is a curly haired 50 something year old man who has the energy and stature of a 13 year old boy. As often as I have a mug in my hand, Oscar is smoking one of two things. Another reason why I find his energy level to be astounding. I discover quickly that here, tantilizing the senses is not something that wears off quickly. The site of our surroundings is natural beauty that nearly brings tears to our eyes. Like I said, describing this place is nearly impossible...it is scrumptrilescent. The way of life here is indulgent but without guilt and the way the day revolves around good food, drink and conversation has made me question what other way of life there is. I feel at home unlike I have ever felt on this trip so far...beautiful.
After a few days here, it is evident that this will be a place that I know I will return to. I still can´t get over how magical this place is. How lovely it is to stumble upon Minca before it is another hugh gringo distination. Although it will never loose its charm the presence of tourists always has its wear on places. Minca was only a small blip in the Lonely Planet and this is perhaps an indication of the places we should be checking out more. We ended up here, once again, from kind recommendations of fellow travelers.

Oscar is in the process (15 years in the making) of building up his property to house 5 star camping for ten or so people. The main house will hold around six people and the small covered shelters will house four. He has a 3 x 3 meter fresh spring water pool that provides him with energy. The solar panel on the roof provides him with hot water. Even when we are out of water at Andres´ house, it is flowing freely at Oscar´s. All of this water comes from natural water sources located on his land. He lets gravity do the work and fills up the water pool daily. At the bottom of the pool is a small opening and when the water is allowed through the tube the movement creates energy. At this point, I get the basic idea of all this sustainable energy stuff but it is definitely something I am motivated to learn more about. It seems the only logical way to produce energy now and for the furture.  Ehren and Yohan on the other hand are fully enthralled with this matter and grilled Oscar for more knowledge.

In exploring more of Oscar´s land, about 12 of us (Colorado crew, Andres, Esmay (Andres´ adorable english girlfriend) 4 of Andres´ Colombian friends, Juan Carlos, 2 gringos from Seattle) went canoning around the spring and river. This area is just as beautiful as the rest and it gave me excitement to find OUR land one day. The first part of our adventure was quite challenging. It followed along the water on slippery rocks so once again we got to use our climbing skills. A few of us fell (...Vern fell on her tail bone...again) but with so many people everyone was helping each other through this natural gymnasium.

Mountaineering Oscar style

As everyone has thier own maneauvers to get down the rock formation, it feels like a gift to be experiencing a place so untouched. It is now that I realize I am going to miss this place. Juan Carlos is navigating through this much like he travels with no money, fearless and without forsight of whether he will land on his feet or not, but of course he does. A couple, friends of Andres´, play cat and mouse through the jungle. The guy able to swiftly jump around the rocks is obviously very experienced with this type of stuff but after a while he waits patiently for his lady. They share many quick but meaningful embraces which always end with a kiss. Oscar is leading the way, jumping and sliding like a spider monkey in rainboots. Every once in a while he comes back to check up on the rest of us.

At the end of the trek we see his house from a far and Oscar tells us that this is the location of where he will be building his zipline. Because what would a beautiful Colombian camping hostel be without a zipline to get you where you need to go. I make my last walk back to la casa de Andres and begin to prepare myself to leave Minca. This mental prepartion to leave is needed but I look forward to when I am able to return and it is exciting to realize that Colombia is a place that I GET to come back to. There is lots of work to be done and Oscar is going to need a yoga and mediation teacher!

Sending love and beauty your way....love,