July 4th Colombia

by - July 06, 2018

Happy 4th of July!  Neither of us had any clue what day it was until we saw social media.  The days blur together and we never know what day of the week it is.  We debated back and forth about going to El Totumo mud volcano for a day trip from Cartagena.  It is an active mud volcano at sea level with alleged healing benefits.  It seemed a bit too touristy.  We were happy we decided to do it.  The entertainment factor was there and we couldn't stop laughing at the whole thing.  We hopped on a bus and then stopped around Cartagena for the next hour picking up others all over town.  Then it was an hour ride to the volcano.  It was a very underwhelming site when we pulled up.  It is literally the smallest volcano in Colombia.

 They locked up our belongings and everyone took the walk to the top.  Once at the top we were looking down into the mud pit watching others get rubbed down and pushed around to make room for us.  Here goes nothing...after dropping down about 6 steps a local man grabbed me and told me to lay back.  It was the weirdest sensation ever.  It felt like floating on a warm, wet cloud.  The man quickly went to work massaging my entire body.  Half way through he flipped me over like a pancake and proceeded with my backside.  As this is happening the mud pit is filling with more and more people.  Once he finished he pushed me upright and moved me to the corner.  I could not believe how many people were packed in!  Once in a while a large air bubble the size of your head would explode in front of you.  We met Chris and Jen from Canada on the ride there and we all shared some good laughs while wading in the mud.  I cannot explain the sensation of standing in mud without having your feet touch the bottom.  You didn't float nor sink.  After a while they pointed to the stairs leading up and another local man wiped as much mud off as he could as you walked up the stairs.

 Then it was down the slippery stairs and off to the water.  Chris, Jen, and I were the first people to the water and as we walked we saw local women grabbing their pails and running after us.  Each lady grabbed our arms and led us into the water.  We read that they were very pushy, but that was an understatement.  I wasn't prepared to be waterbathed.  Over and over she dumped water over my head, all while rubbing very aggressively.  Without notice, she untied my top and ripped it over my head.  I quickly ducked into the water, somewhat startled.  I looked over and the lady made Chris take off his shorts as well.  After my top was back on, she proceeded with rest of my body and then tied a ribbon to my arm.  I was tagged.  They would get their tip later.  Behind us came the rest of the group and we all shared some laughs as we watched the same thing happen to everyone else.  
Then we walked back to the hut and changed and gathered our belongings.  One after another, the locals came to us for tips.  $3,000 pesos to the man who rubbed you down, the woman who cleaned you off, and the man who took your picture.  They were even trying to sell us mud.  

It was a short lived experience and then we were back on the bus heading back to Cartagena.  After showering to get the mud out of our ears, we treated ourselves to a real restaurant.  Although the street food is amazing here, it is so nice to sit down for a real meal once in a while.  We went to Di Silvio Trattorio and ordered the cheapest things on the menu.  I feel so cheap when we order water to drink and have to make sure they just give you tap water so we don't get charged for it.  Some days, we get sick of our budget and it is getting harder and harder to stay on track.

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