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South America » Colombia » Cartagena
March 18th 2009
Published: April 6th 2009
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Day 718 (17.03.09)

After a pretty uneventful bus ride across to Cartagena, we arrived and did some planning and booking before dinner at a local cheap eatery and bed ... exciting stuff!

Day 719 (18.03.09)

On thing we never thought we'd do would be to climb into the crater of a volcano for a bath but that's exactly what we were planning for tioday's main activity. Just 50km from Catragena is the Volcan de Lodo El Totumo a 15m mound which is actually a volcano but which, instead of spewing lava, erupts with thick liquid mud. When it's not erupting you can climb to the top of the mound and have a therapeutic dip in the mud pools and we thought it sounded like a unique experience.

After smashing some early morning greasy street food for brekkie we were off to the mud volcano for a soak. As well as sounding like a spa experience it is one of the few places in the world where you can have the feeling of being weightless ... so it's really a bit of a spacey spa!

As we arrived we saw a bizarre looking cone of mud in what looked like the middle of a car park with clean people walking up steps on one side and mud monsters walking down the other. Leaving our shoes with a lass at the bottom of the steps we waited in line, where there was the small obligatory mud fight, before slipping into the muddy crater at the top. It felt a little strange at first and you quickly found you had little to no control in moving anywhere. With a little rub down massage from a local chap and some time floating around in the mud soup we wallowed like content pigs! It was a very strange feeling to "stand" in a bottomless mud pit and not be able to sink yourself below about chest height.

Covered from head to toe in mud we took the walk down the other, mud monster, side of the mud cone to the river for a scrub down. Local ladies armed with water scoops subject you to their own form of water torture to remove all traces on mud from your skin.

It had been a touristy but fun exprience marred only slightly by the vehemence with which the masseurs, photographers and washing ladies pursued us for their "tips".

Following a spot of lunch on the coast on the way home we arrived back for a shower and our first walk around the walled city of Cartegena known to us only through the classic movie Romancing the Stone.

We wandered the gorgeous streets and plazas of the Centro district and finished the day at the Cafe del Mar, a bar situated on the top of a section of the city's fortifications, watching the sun go down with a beer.


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