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Published: June 27th 2015
I just had to go to Volcan El Totumo after reading other blogs about it as it seemed like a lot of good fun. Our B&B arranged transport for us and so off we went on a hot and humid Friday morning.
The drive to Volcan El Totumo took about an hour. Leaving Cartagena, we took a road that hugged the hot and dry coast east of Cartagena. There were many new luxury developments on the northern side of the road along the coast, and on the southern side of the road we saw less privileged families living in run down housing. It was quite a contrast.
Arriving at the volcan, we saw that it looked like a giant anthill. We followed the drill:
• Strip down to trunks, walk up the stairs.
• Hand your footwear to one guy, hand your camera to another guy who will take photos of you and your party.
• Climb down the ladder into the squishy mud.
• Once you're in the mud, someone grabs you, floats you on your back, massages you (or rubs mud into your skin - I couldn't quite tell), flips you over, massages you some more, and then pushes
you away into a corner so that he can massage his next customer.
• Once you've had your fill, you climb up the other ladder where someone will flick mud off you back into the crater (hint: when you're in the mud, don't hang out under this ladder).
• Descend the hill, walk to nearby freshwater lake.
• At shore of lake, an old lady with a small pail will grab you by the hand, pour water all over you to wash off the mud, and violate your ear orifices. She'll then instruct you to take off your trunks. Horrors, the lake is so shallow that you have no choice but to flash her. She'll then wash your trunks and hand them back to you.
• At the shore, the guy who took your footwear and the guy who took your camera will be waiting for you. Before you get back to your car, the massage guy will also show up.
Here's where things get iffy. The camera guy, the footwear guy, the massage guy and the old lady will all descend on you to ask for payment. Nothing is negotiated beforehand but the going rate seems to be COP10,000 for
Forgot to suck in my tummy. Dammit!
the massage and COP3,000 for everybody else. Bring plenty of small change. I had read about this but boneheaded me left the small change at our B&B so we had to scramble to get small change and we had to pay some of them in USD.
Once we were all cleaned up, we headed back to Cartagena. When we got back to our B&B and got back online, we found that social media had gone crazy with news that the Supreme Court had legalized same-sex marriage throughout the U.S. What a great day!
Was this experience worth it? It was fun and you will have a hard time finding a similar experience anywhere else, so yes, give it a whirl. The mud is supposed to have rejuvenating properties. Be warned, though... one day after the trip I am still digging up dried mud in unexpected places.
I'm a little embarrassed to admit we paid gringo price for this experience - on our first afternoon in Cartagena we looked out for signs advertising shared rides and found none, so we took our B&B owner's suggestion and booked a car through him. It cost us COP200,000 and the price
included entrance fees and tolls. We understand that the shared ride costs COP40,000 per person and I am guessing it does not include entrance fees.
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