A Travellerspoint blog

November 2008

Rumba fart in volcano

Plata o plomo en Colombia


View MAP OF THE JOURNEY on AnnaMickus's travel map.

On the Santa Marta bus station we suddenly bumped into a couple we had already met in San Agustin, Alex and Richard. ”So where are you guys going?” –Cartagena. ”Us too, with the 10 o´clock bss” –Us too! ”We’re planning to take a boat over to Panama from there.” –No way, us too! ”But first we’ll spend a couple of days in Cartagena and visit Playa Blanca” –He he,us too. Talk about coincidences. We decided to travel together and join forces to organize the best boat trip ever. :)

Cartagena is a town full of culture and contrasts. The town has a historic centre with fancy colonial buildings, nice restaurants, boutiques, malls, you name it. People walk around in their expensive clothes and drive around in their lavish cars. The other part of town is dirty and smelly with run down houses and filthy hotels filled with beggars, sick looking dogs and local fast food joints serving greasy fare. Everywhere you walk somebody is trying to sell you something, have you stay in their hotel etc. etc. In other words; there is something for everybody here! We took the opportunity to enjoy a little bit of luxury and had us a couple of piña coladas in the Café del Mar bar that is sitting on top of the big wall surrounding the old town overlooking the Caribbean Sea.

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The other day we did an interesting little day trip. Some 60km away there is a small volcano. But this isn’t the ordinary type of volcano; it is a mud volcano. Yup, instead of magma, it spits out mud. And it is active still. We climbed up a ladder to the crater of the volcano and jumped into the cool smooth mud. Hmmm an interesting feeling it was, just like swimming in mud :). It was hard to move, and impossible to swim your way forward. There were some guys who helped you to move by pushing you to the place where you wanted to go. And that wasn’t all they did: they also offered massages right there in the pool next to all slimy bastards and fatsoes. We kindly refused, but many took the opportunity to get felt up by the Colombian caballeros. At one point we were sitting behind this guy and suddenly small bubbles started to appear behind him. Hehhe, we thought; the guy was farting but didn’t realize everybody could see it. hihiii. The bubbles just got bigger and bigger until a really huge bubble burst and threw mud in everybody’s face. ”Uups”, he said. ”I shouldn’t have eaten those beans today”. Well actually, it was only the volcano spitting up more mud, but the guy had a sense of humour.

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Walking up the volcano

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A certain question has often risen during this trip: Why do things easy when you can do them hard? Once again we got to experience something that made us ask this now already so familiar question. We had decided to go to this beautiful beach, Playa Blanca, just south of Cartagena. The easiest way to get there is by boat from the market. The boat takes you to the beach in half an hour. So early one morning we jumped into a taxi and told the driver to take us to the market from where the boats leave for Playa Blanca. Will do, sir. He dropped us off in the middle of the market where no water was to be seen. Well done, sir. Everybody told us to jump on the bus that was standing next to us; take the bus and then after a while you change to the boat. All righty then, I guess these guys know, I mean, they live here. We ended up driving the bus for an hour, arguing about the price of a canoe to take us over a river, waiting for a ferry for an hour, hitchhiking with a friendly Colombian family, and walking an hour in the mud for an hour after the jeep got stuck in and flooded with water from a meter deep mud pool in the middle of the road. But how could it have happened? I mean, the family had hired a guide to direct them through the complicated muddy dirt road that led to the beach. And you’ll never guess what the last words of the guide were before we got stuck? ”I am the guide; I know what I’m doing, so trust me when I say that we should go straight through here – right in the middle!”

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Walking the rest of the way

Well something good came out of this anyway; we got to know these nice Colombian people who drove... or tried to drive us to the beach. We ended up spending the day with them on the beautiful beach and eating lunch made by their buddy Tony, who had a hole in his throat, so he had to push the plaster on the throat when he was speaking with this hissing whispering voice, and whose two front teeth wanted to fall out of his mouth all the time because they were so loose.

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These are the people who gave us a ride

”Why did you take the bus? Why didn’t you take the boat? It only took us about thirty minutes.” – said the couple we had met on the mud volcano tour. They were suddenly sitting there under a palm tree by a nice looking hut on the beach. We ended up staying there with them, sleeping on the second floor of a very simple but suitable building overlooking the beautiful beach and the wonderful ocean.

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We stayed up there on the upper level

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This is the view from there

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We saw this small tornado on our way back from Playa Blanca

Once back in Cartagena we decided to try this interesting Colombian custom: the chiva rumba party bus! I’ve never seen anything exactly like this, but it is pretty cool, really. They have these big colourful open air buses with many benches in a row. On the middle row there is a live band playing all kinds of sambas and rumbas and the alike and on the rest of the benches there are lots of party people playing different instruments and singing along with the music. And that’s not all. There is a party leader in the front of the bus screaming into a microphone all kinds of stuff to get the people in a better party mode AND handing out rum bottles, mixers and ice for the party people to enjoy. There are loads of these busses driving around town and when they drive past each other one bus tries to be better than the other by singing louder and dancing harder. When the tour is finished, the bus drops off the whole gang at some night club where the party continues. We ended up visiting a few other night clubs as well and ended up in Electra where the common pattern seemed to be very lightly dressed local girls picking up rich foreign tourists in search for some fun.

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On the rumba bus

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We managed by the way to find a sailing boat that will take us tomorrow towards Panama and the San Blas islands. They say this boat and captain is one of the best ones, so we have high hopes for the coming days. And as it happened, when we were just coming out from a restaurant, we bumped into a guy who we had got to know in Canoa, Ecuador. With him were another guy and a girl, Selma, from France. So we went to have a beer at our favourite bar in Cartagena, this little place where they play fantastic Colombian music and serve cold beer and whiskey (the place is actually called ”whiskeria”, but they only have one bottle of whiskey under the counter in a card board box). We started talking and it turned out that Selma is going on the same boat with us tomorrow! The world is small.

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Summary Colombia:

GOOD
- Friendly people
- Club Colobia was a good beer
- Beautiful country

BAD
- military check points

SCORE (4-10)
- 8,5 lines of coke!

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Posted by AnnaMickus 15:36 Archived in Colombia Comments (0)

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