Casas Viejas – A Recap

We never would have expected to find ourselves in the little town of Minca. We had heard nothing of it before we arrived to Santa Marta and our hostel receptionist told us it was a great place to enjoy waterfalls.


Waterfall named Marinka near Minca, Colombia.


It just so happened our first Workaway was located 45min into the mountains by motorcycle from Minca. Casas Viejas is just far enough removed to enjoy the tranquility and beauty the Sierra Nevadas have to offer.


From left: Obed, Johanna, Luis


From the moment we arrived at Casas Viejas we felt at home. All the staff welcomed us with warm smiles and ease of conversation. The surrounding area hooked us like a good book that you just can’t put down. We woke up every morning eager to do another hike. From amazing vistas to refreshing waterfalls, we felt energized and ecstatic to explore more….and more.


Tipi, the weirdest dog that will steal your heart.

We’d come home starving and fill our bellies with the soup of the day, rice, beans, and salad. A good 80% of the time, lunch was followed by the baked good of the day and if it was Marina’s cookies, we had to get two. We’d then go into a food coma and rest was the only thing possible. Unless it was Tuesday, Thursday, or Saturday, then we had to put our thinking caps on and figure out how to teach the impossible language of English. If anyone reading our blog has tips on how to teach adults English with little understanding of the language, we will gladly accept them. 


Attempting to teach english.

There was a group of about 9 staff and volunteers including ourselves that never spent an evening apart. We shared stories, laughed, danced (we really need to learn to move our hips like Colombians do!), played a new game every night, and ate delicious food. Casas Viejas was an incredible way to start our journey through Colombia. The people and those incredible mountains are unforgettable.



For those of you that happen to find yourself in northern Colombia, do not pass up the opportunity to check out the Minca area. More importantly, do not miss Casas Viejas! It is one of the most unique hostels you will ever stay in. The atmosphere connects everyone on a deeper level than any other place we’ve experienced. I can’t tell you how many times we heard people asking to extend their stay because of how much fun they were having. From the family dinners, to no wifi, to incredible surroundings, to sustainability, these people know what they are doing. Charline, Rebecca, and Arno have thought of the smallest details to make everyones experience enjoyable meanwhile taking care of the staff and the environment in which they live.



The Life we’re Livin’

The days are filled with hiking and chugging coffee. The nights are filled with laughter and lots of talking. If there is one thing we have learned, its how much Colombians love to talk. They are the most friendly people that just want to stop mid way up the hill on their motorcycle to see what you are up to. They will join you on a hike and fill all the silences with more questions and stories. Its quite fun.


Alaina picking her way through deceivingly deep ruts.


We met Juan David randomly on a hike and ended up trekking with him for over an hour. Colombians are so nice.

We have spent the last few days exploring the area around the hostel and oh me oh my its pretty amazing. The vistas vary greatly. Looking in one direction you see the ocean divided by the “Troncal del Carribe”, with skylines of half developed buildings, and cargo ships that look like little ants off in the distance.

In the other direction mountains peak above eye level, boasting every shade of green, and massive white puffy clouds building as the daily storm brews.


There are birds, butterflies, and flowers of literally every color you can imagine. Our favorite so far is a butterfly that reps lavender on top and orange on the bottom. When it flies its like magic. its become our mission to capture a picture of one of these before we leave.

Taylor tucks me in every night. It’s not like a kid asking their mom or dad to tuck them in and read them a bed time story. I ask nightly so that he will proceed to tuck my mosquito net under my twin bed mattress so the large spiders that crawl the walls don’t end up as my bunk mate. Mosquitos are real here and man, their bites are itchier than ever.

As much as we are excited to see new places and explore more of Colombia, the mountains and comfort of new friends will keep us enjoying every moment for the next two weeks.