Of our entire South American adventure, choosing to visit Colombia last is probably my biggest regret. Logistically and financially it was the best option for us and at first we were glad we saved it until the end after almost everyone we met on the road said it was the best country they've ever visited. We went in full of expectation but heavy with fatigue and absolutely sick of buses. Then on one particularly awful bus between Ipiales and Popayan Tom's bag was stolen and I think that was the moment we both decided we were ready to go home.
Don't get me wrong, we enjoyed Colombia but it I think we both wish we'd had the chance to see it before the thrill of seeing new places was dulled a little, before we'd experienced our favourite country - Ecuador - and when we could dedicate the time it deserves.
The tiny little village of Minca was one of our trip highlights though - something I definitely wasn't expecting as we squashed into a tiny little jeep that was definitely carrying more passengers than it should have been and spent an hour and a half driving from Santa Marta, trying to hold back the vomit as we bumped and swerved along the mountain roads. We arrived in Minca (in our flip flops) to find that it was essentially just a very muddy building site but since it was a few degrees cooler than sweltering Santa Marta we were willing to overlook almost any flaw.
But of course, a visit to a pretty and unassuming village in South America wouldn't be complete without another near-death experience.
Despite the torrential downpour that kept us at the plantation for much longer than we'd planned, we predictably relied on nothing but our own two feet to get back down the hill again.
The excitement and surprise didn't end there though. Thankfully though, it was good surprise and excitement this time, albeit really weird. Way back when we were doing our Uyuni salt flats tour we met a German couple who were en-route to Machu Picchu while we were staying in Bolivia carrying on to Sucre. It was a bit strange bumping into them again in a hostel in Arequipa, but as it's a pretty popular spot on the Gringo trail we didn't think a great deal of it. What we didn't expect was to then accidentally meet one of them again in Minca of all places. It made us realise that the planet can be so small at times.
Our time in Minca might have been brief and (mostly) uneventful, but it was just what we needed to relax and recover from our time in Tayrona National Park. Between being robbed, Tom losing his phone and me getting a severely sunburnt arse two days before a ten hour flight back to the UK, Minca restored our faith in Colombia and - unlike the rest of the country - we visited at the perfect time.
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