Monday, 25 August 2014

Mud, mud, glorious mud!

 (and then the heavens opened...)

Well, this weekend was certainly an experience! I'll have to tell you the story in order, because that's the way things go, but let me just say that it includes mud baths, torrential rain and plenty of Colombian dancing to top it all off!

Early on Saturday morning a group of us set off, direction Cartagena, to the Volcán de lodo Totumo - which roughly translates as 'The Calabash Tree Volcano of Mud'. Catchy, eh? Well, if you haven't already picked it up from the subtle hints I've been dropping (or if you've had a sneaky peek at the photos below), the main activity at this volcano wasn't exactly sightseeing, but rather getting our hands - and all the rest of our bodies - rather dirty!
After having paid a small entrance fee of 5,000 Colombian Pesos (about £1.50), we clambered up the steep wooden steps towards the top of this mini-volcano. Peering down, you could see a mass of grey-coloured bodies in a pool of gunge about 5 metres down, that someone (rightly) commented, resembled something of the orcs from Lord of the Rings and their birthing scenes... So, naturally, we decided to take our place and join the nascent creatures below.

And here we are! Beautifully presented post-massage (which I took part in) and post-dunk (which I mercifully managed to escape). The mud was warm and not too unpleasant, although the smell did put me off a little, and if you got some in your mouth it was foul! It was also pretty hard to stay upright, as there was so much buoyancy that you ended up with your hand in someone's armpit, and your feet in-between their legs, or worse... However, we survived the ordeal, and I have to say, it was pretty fun! Apparently very good for your skin, too. I'm not sure I'd do it again, but you have to try things once, right?

The local kids loved being in photos with us... before this happened, anyway!
Having emerged with our new monster coating, we headed into a nearby lake to clean off - making some new friends along the way (see photo). I was lucky to escape with my bikini still on, due to the rather aggressive washing methods of the women 'helping' us out (others fared worse), but we made it, and headed to a nearby restaurant for some arepas con huevo (think Colombian pasty with egg inside) and patacones con queso (fried plantain with cheese) - mmm yummy! Although we'd barely started the meal when it started to rain...

Street flooding on 84th street - thankfully, this time wasn't so bad!
And let me inform you, this is no normal occurrence in Colombia - at least, not on the North coast. When I arrived, one of the first things my landlady said to me was 'It hasn't rained here since November'. Now - while the occasional five-minute shower isn't actually all that rare - what she really meant was 'It hasn't rained properly here since November'. And now I know why! The phrase 'raining cats and dogs' really does seem appropriate here: within seconds the street was filled with rivers (arroyos) of running water, and the rain didn't stop falling for most of the afternoon. I'd already heard stories of street flooding, but it wasn't until later, when we were desperately trying to run home - uphill, and against the flow - that I really appreciated how strong it could be! And that was nothing - in the South of the city, arroyos have carried cars, and even buses, down the road with no problem. So you can understand why here, when it rains, people don't go to work. And I thought that was just an excuse!

Finally, having recovered from the mud-encrusting and the soaking (not to mention the over-zealous washing), we had a bit of a siesta and got prepared for the nights activities... rumba! I won't detail everything here (because I've already written far too much), but let's just say my dancing skills are definitely improving! Oh, and I met a couple of guys who were here two years ago doing the same thing as me, and their dancing was pretty top (their Spanish wasn't bad, either) - hope springs eternal.

So, until next time... adios, amigos!


  1. Sounds amazing. You've made us all jealous ;) Mud... who knew it could be so much fun?

  2. Brilliant. Hippos, move over.