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Published: September 27th 2015
Today I swam in volcanic mud. No, really. We went to the Totumo volcano in between Cartagena and Baranquilla. It's a natural volcano full of a special kind of mud with salts, magnesium, and other minerals that are supposedly great for the skin. At first I was hesitant. Have you seen my hair? It's big and there's a lot of it! I couldn't imagine getting heavy mud saturated into my already 2 lb hair! Surely my neck would snap and roll off. But my friends wanted to do it and I got to thinking, "Hey, you only live once!" I bought a hot pink head scarf that matched my bikini, and went for it. We paid about $20 USD each for the tour. A van WITH air conditioning (praise the Lord!!!) came and picked us up in front of the hostel.
We drove for what felt like forever. Carolina, Picha and I were three very hugged-up peas in a pod. However, the music was the jam, the company was lively, and we had air conditioning so we couldn't complain! About half way to Baranquilla we arrived at a small volcano that we were going to climb into! We changed and
ascended the rickety steps. From the top of the volcano we saw a vast river, a forest of green tree tops, and mountains looming in the distance. The wind picked up and everyone's hair was a swirling mess, except for mine. It was too heavy! Haha! Beneficial!
We began descending the ladder into the volcano's crater one at a time which was actually quite terrifying! They promised we would float but I was alarmed that I would be stepping off into a dense, bottomless, mud pit. They said the volcano is at least 35 meters deep. I clang to the ladder until the very last second then I let go, sinking into a tepid mass of clay. In that moment it was all worth it. We floated! My friends and I laughed and smeared mud all over our faces. I was transported back to third grade when I played in mud in the back yard with my best friend but this was much cooler! The most surreal thing was curling our legs and having the sensation of sitting when we really weren't. I enjoyed standing in it and feeling the squishy texture all over my skin. Although me and
Picha loved it, Carolina was grossed out by the gritty mineral consistency.
There were men in the pit offering massages for a tip. I looked over and saw one of them violently groping some poor lady's rear end. At which point me and my friends decided "No thank you." We weren't going to tip someone to violate us! I asked him "A ti te encanta tu trabajo, ¿no?"
You love your job. Don't you? His only response was a cheeky grin. Then a few minutes later I saw him massaging a man with a very UN-happy expression on his face. No trace of a grin in sight! Cosmic justice. Haha!
Unfortunately that same man had to give us a rub down as we exited the crater. Nooooo!!! I was so chagrined! But I knew that without having someone scrape off the dense, excess mud, I would never get it all off. So I grinned and bore it. My friends and I all got thoroughly squeegeed. After that we slipped and slid down the side of the volcano where they pointed us to that vast river. It's amazing anyone gets down the steps without breaking their neck! But I
survived! Feat #2 was getting all the mud off. After cracking and crunching rocks under my bare feet I completed the trek. Then I tipped a local lady to bathe me in the river. Yes. I actually did that. Hey, if I was going to live this experience I figured I might as well go all the way! The women were there to help...and get paid. So why deprive them of their tip, and myself of a mud-free body? They skilfully sat us down in a semi-deep part of the river where all modesty was preserved. The water felt warm and relaxing lapping over me as I got my bath. Carolina and Picha were being cheap and tried to help bathe each other. It was hilarious! The standard tip was only $1.25 USD. I was NOT going to trifle over that. I stared at them and laughed, watching them struggle as I got my face scrubbed skillfully by the native lady. It was worth every cent and I came out relatively mud free!
We threw on some clothes and hopped back in the van. I put on my dress a lo gringo
. Ask a Chilean what that means! Haha!
During the hour ride back to Cartagena I reflected on this day full of firsts. I love how my friends and I aren't afraid to try new things. I'll never forget being covered from head to toe (minus hair!) with mud. I'll never forget dripping muck everywhere as I slipped my way down rickety stairs trying to not fall down and eat dirt. And I definitely won't forget getting bathed in a river by some completely random lady feeling very much like an undignified royal child. In South America I've noticed that my thoughts are the clearest when I'm covered in dirt. I feel the freest when I live intrepidly. Today was a day that I will always remember. I was a lady drenched in lodo
. I feel blessed to have unique experiences like these.
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