In the days following our arrival in Santa Marta, Colombia on Sunday the 6 th December, a number of other yachts arrived. These were Australian, New Zealand, US and Belgian registered yachts who we had all met before in various anchorages, so there was a flurry of reunion drinks and dinners in the evenings of the following week.
During the day, we explored the town of Santa Marta, which was bustling with street traders on the sidewalks, forcing pedestrians to walk in the streets and running the gauntlet of vehicles whose drivers consider traffic lights as mere decorations and their hooters as the cure-all for pedestrians in their way.
The marina could arrange hot dip galvanising with a local plant, so we had our badly corroded anchor and 80 m of anchor chain sent in for galvanising. Our BBQ which runs off an Aussie gas cylinder, was back in action as the local gas supplier had an adaptor for it and refilled the cylinder for us.
Our daughter Karen who travelled South America two years ago and spent some time in Colombia, suggested we visit Minca, a small town in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. We headed out there on the 13 th December to spend a relaxed time on land for a couple of days. The town reminded us of Nimbin, the hippie town in northern NSW, Australia. We stayed at the Chunu’u hostel resort in a “glamping tent” next to a river.
Fellow Aussie Colin, arranged for us to visit the La Victoria coffee plantation high up in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. To get there, ten of us sailors got onto the pillions of the local moto taxis and had a hair raising ride on narrow unpaved roads with hairpin bends and sheer drops to the valleys below.
La Victoria is one of the biggest and oldest coffee farms of northern Colombia. It was founded in 1892 by Charles and Alice Bowden, a couple of English entrepreneurs who arrived in the country. The Bowden’s were among the pioneers that started producing coffee extensively in the region around Minca. They engineered a system of pipelines that uses water from the numerous streams of the farm to collect coffee from remote areas and to power the machinery of the coffee factory.
Thanks to these innovations, La Victoria Coffee Company became one of the top producers of coffee in the region by 1921, with a yearly production of 200,000 kg. More recently, the Weber-Wilde family, who has owned the property for two generations now, is opening the farm to alternative activities. We enjoyed a very informative tour of the coffee factory built in 1892 and still running today. The owner who’s husband passed away two years ago, is running the big farm and coffee factory on her own.
The trip back on the moto taxis were even worse, because going downhill the riders could show off their considerable racing skills, which would have had the motorcycle racers in the Isle of Man Tourist Trophy, green with envy. When not hiking along the rivers and the mountain trails, we explored the town and enjoyed the local food.
Back at the marina, we had new neighbours, Rokas and Simona on “Starlight” from Lithuania and Elaine and Crawford on “Nauplios” from the UK. The galvanising of our anchor and chain had been delayed due the volume of work at the plant, with the promise that we can expect delivery just before Christmas, which is celebrated in Colombia on the 24 th December. We will set sail to Cartagena, 120 nm to the South, after Christmas, to celebrate the New Year down there.
To all our family and friends, we wish you a merry Christmas and after hopefully receiving your Covid vaccinations early in 2021, a brighter and happier new year than the year that 2020 has been. Cheers!
Annie & Dirk