In the fantasy novels I read, there are parties in worlds run by the fae that people enter and never leave. They come for a time, by accident or on purpose, and then they get stuck and never leave. The old world as they knew it fades away and before they know it, a lifetime – or centuries – have passed.
Some hostels strike me as a bit fae in that way. Around the world, there are pockets where time runs a bit differently, and people seem to arrive and motivation to depart vaporates. And each hostel has a different flavor of person stuck in their trap.
In Minca, where I went after my sick day of bread and bananas in the hostel in Santa Marta, the hostel flavor was French and white boy dreds, with art during the day and late night cocktails with a firepit in the evening.
Minca is a town about forty minutes up a mountain overlooking Santa Marta. The hostel I stayed at is in the middle of a coffee plantation called La Victoria, which was founded by a Brit (of course) in 1892. I knew that the collectivo from Santa Marta to Minca picked up around the central market area, and had an (incorrect) intersection from my guidebook, so I did the usual travel strategy of walk around looking lost until someone pointed me in the right direction of the collectivo. (This almost always works just fine in countries where you stick out and they assume you’re going to one of a handful of places.) Once in Minca, the original plan was to hop onto a motorcycle the additional twenty minutes or so up to the coffee plantation. But one of the Spanish speaking tourists on the collectivo got the driver to take us all the way up for a little extra, so I tagged along.
I walked around the coffee plantation with a young woman who worked there and spoke very good English and learned about how the coffee is processed from the fields – it was actually quite interesting, and their coffee was pretty good. I may have bought three pounds of it… and then walked straight up hill for the twenty five minute walk up to the hostel.
The view and the food at the hostel was fantastic, so I basically just hung out in a hammock for an entire afternoon eating and drinking fresh squeezed lemonade and then later gin and tonics as happy hour arrived. There were possibly more staff members (those entraped by the fae nature of it all, as discussed) than hostel guests, all in varying states of removal from “the real world.”
I was disinclined to do much beyond the coffee plantation tour and enjoying the view, which somewhat amused me because I had done nothing but read on my sick day and yet somehow the experience of reading in a hammock near the top of the mountain with a slice of chocolate cake is different from reading near a hostel pool, slowly nursing bread over the course of a day.
I can definitely understand the appeal of staying for longer than a night. If I hadn’t been sick, the extra night would have been well spent up in Minca, perhaps actually doing some of the hikes and bird watching available. (Minca is famous for its birds – something that is apparent by the hummingbirds that regularly joined me at my hammock.)
Instead, I woke up, had some of the best oatmeal (yes, oatmeal) I’ve ever had, and then got on a horse and meandered up to the top of the mountain for the view and the experience of Trying Not To Break My Neck Even Though I Have No Idea What The Hell I Am Doing On This Creature and then made my way down the mountain to start the process of getting to Cartagena. First, by motorcycle, then collectivo, a taxi, and finally a bus from Santa Marta to Cartagena, which actually dropped me off at my hostel instead of on the side of the road like the last one.
It was an exhausting series of different forms of transportation for one day.