I flew from Medellin to Cartagena for only $56 dollars thanks to the local airline, Viva Colombia; less money then the 15 hour bus ride would have cost me. It was bittersweet to leave the beautiful Andes behind, but I welcomed the sweltering heat as I knew how cold it was back at home.
I booked the next 5 nights at a loud party hostal, surrounded by bars and restaurants that played music at the highest level possible, even when no patrons were in them. I did not sleep well, but I was too lazy to pack up all of my belongings so I just dealt with the mind-dulling, constant noise.
The best part of the hostal was that they had a couple of adorable pets. Two Larakeets? (not positive on that), a cute dog and a cat as well. They all got along with each other. The dog loved the birds so much he would climb into their feeding area almost every morning. The birds nibbled on the dog's fir and the pup nibbled on them back. I also got to help hand-feed the birds each morning.
|Doggie bird kisses!|
We took off in a mini bus and travelled for about an hour to the "Volcano." In reality, it was a very large mud hill.
|Volcan De Totumo|
We stripped down into our swimsuits and climbed up some precarious stairs to the top. The gray brown mud is located in a large pit at the top and is known for its healing properties, is full of minerals and promotes healthy, glowing skin. The mud is about 100 feet deep.
One man took the cameras from everyone in our group so that he could take photos. He was quite the site with about 15 various sized cameras wrapped around his neck. I have no idea how he kept track of each one, but was pleasantly surprised to find he took several of me on my own camera.
As I climbed down into the pit, I enjoyed feeling smooshy muck between my toes. A few local men were waiting in the pool. The first guides you down the stairs and rolls you gently into the mud. He had me lay down on my back and then he glided me across the top of the mud to another man who gives an invigorating massage and exfoliation. He focused on my arms, legs, belly and back. At one point he grabbed the opposite leg and flipped me over to do my back. I was so awkward, and he rolled me so fast, my face slammed into the mud and I spent the rest of my massage working the grit out of my teeth.
|Getting my mud rub|
The mud was so dense, it was impossible to sink. I even tried to claw my way down the wall to see if I could completely immerge myself and could not hold my body down. It was hard to even keep my feet straight down at times. Occasionally, someone would get tilted onto their back and struggle like a beetle who has been flipped over.... legs and arms flailing to find balance. Others would assist in pulling them back into an upright position. We got another half hour or so to play in the pit and I ended up getting a second massage. It was really fun to lay on my back and have the men glide me across the pool of mud.
|Happy, muddy me.|
After climbing out of the pit, another man slicked the mud from my body over an iron gate so that it slops back into the pit. I was lead down another staircase and towards a large lagoon. Several native woman beckon from the water. I entered the lagoon and immediately two woman ripped my bikini top and bottom off as I sat in the water. Breasts exposed to the entire crowd they poured bucket after bucket on my head. They scrubbed every nook and cranny (and I mean EVERY nook and cranny) on my body to remove the mud. I did not notice if everyone else was naked or not, as each time I would wipe water from my face they would throw another right over my head again. It was difficult to breath, let alone look around. They also washed my bikini before guiding me out of the water. After my free10 minute molestation, I picked up my shoes, dried off and dressed.
At the base of the hill they were selling the mud in old used coke litter bottles. It looked exactly like those high-end mud face masks that people pay hundreds for (sans the cheap plastic bottle). I did not purchase any, because I could only imagine the faces at customs; me with my dark mud explaining the medicinal properties held within my plastic coca cola bottle. Last time I was in South America, a customs agent in Houston scrubbed my hiking boots with a toothbrush and toothpicks because they had soil from another country in them.
To finish our tour we headed to a small fishing village with a beautiful beach for lunch. I had brought my own meal, but was surprised to find they could have accommodated a vegan. Although, I am always leery of any "vegetarian" soups. I spent my time sleeping and sun tanning on the desolated beach and soaking up some sunshine while the others waited for food. My new Portland friend woke me up some time later and I found a bus full of impatient people waiting to return back to Cartagena. I was sunburnt. So much for my skin healing mud bath...
|Beautiful beach to myself.|