On my way south I stopped for a couple of days in the idyllic backwater of Mompos - a Unesco World Heritage site full of beautiful colonial merchant houses and churches along the Rio Grande de la Magdalena. Life moves along at a snail pace with locals relaxing in the early evening in doorways and squares with their kids and neighbours - invariably in a locally made wicker rocking chair. Being a little off the beaten track, it was a peaceful haven allowing me to chill out well away from the party animals on the hostel circuit. From Mompos, it was an adventurous journey to Turbo starting at 5am by 5 means of transport over a 10 hour period (colectivo to Bodega; chalupa to Magangue; colectivo to Sincelejo; colectivo to Monteria; minibus to Turbo). Turbo is a mega-dodgy trading port, however I had no choice but to stay overnight in order to catch the first lancha to Capurgana the next morning. My ass and back were totally cactus with the rough ride over the waves. Capurgana was lovely and laid-back with the lush jungle meeting the blue Caribbean waters. I also had a chance to cross the Panama border by sea
(as opposed to the notorious and dangerous Darien Gap land crossing) and go to the first island of Caledonia in the San Blas islands of Panama. If I was continuing onto Central America, this would have been the ideal way to travel with a 4 day lancha cruise through the island archipelago to Panama City. Wanting to continue on my Colombian odyssey, I instead caught a south-bound lancha back to La Miel in Panama, and crossed over by foot to stay in neighbouring Sapzurro in Colombia, along with a friendly wave from the border army guards. Having officially been in No Man´s Land after getting an exit stamp from Puerto Obaldia in Panama two days previously, the Colombian officials in Capurgana were totally cool that we had stayed in Sapzurro for the intervening days. I wish all border crossings were so relaxed. Final stop of my second fortnight was the city of Medellin - previously one of the most violent cities in the world made infamous by the drug dude Pablo Escobar - but now more renowned as a cultural and party hub with a few progressive social twists.