Exploring a new continent

Travel time: March - June 2010  |  by Dominik Weber

23 March Cartagena: 29-30 March Vulcano El Totumo and Santa Marta

For the last half day, we decided to see the Vulcano El Totumo, one of the MUST touring sides in and around Cartagena. There are several tour operators who offer tours to the vulcano, so the choice is big for almost the same offer and the same rate. We went to the receiption of the hotel and they booked for us, almost every hotel colaborates with a tour operator, in our case it was Eco Tours. We were picked up by bus, were collecting some more guests from other hotels before we went on the one hour trip to the vulcano.
The Vulcano is about 15m high and inside, there is no hot lava inside, but lukewarm mud. You taking the steps to the vulcano just with you swimming wear and your camera, and once on the top, you can give the camera to a guide who is taking pictures the entire time, while you enjoy the bath in the mud. What a funny thing it is to float in the mud. It obviously also has some medical benefits, but for us, the fun was more important. Once in the mud, you can't swim, but also don't have to because you are floating in the mud. So, you don't need to be scared by the debts of the vulcano which is 2500 meters...
Inside the mud pool, you get a massage and enjoy being muddy and dirty! It is pretty loud there since everybody is screaming and having fun. Once you get out, you are covered with mud all over. Now I know where Botero got the ideas of the steelen figures... You walk to a lagoon where "cleaning ladies" are cleaning you all over your boddy. You even have to take off everything - something that is really necessary to get all the mud off! Everything was very professional and I was wondering how Americans are behaving when they are visiting this place - the helpers don't have problems with touching you, so, do American sue them because of inappropriate sexual touching?

Once you are changed, the helpers are waiting to be tipped for the services - which you can do now with clean hands again. It is really worth going there, especially if you are in a little group, you will have a lot of fun.
Since we booked the tour with lunch, on our way back to Cartagena we stopped at a beautiful sand beach. The lunch was ok, but the sand beach was my last possibility to get wet with sea salt for a while. At least I thought so.
Back in Cartagena, I took my backpack, said good-bye to Julia and Silvia with whom I had a lot of fun over the last days. They were staying two more days in Cartagena before going back to Santiago de Chile. Was really nice meeting you and having so much fun in Cartagena with you! And who knows, perhaps we will see each other in Santiago again?
I went to bus terminal station in Cartagena which is far outside the city. You take a collectivo that goes there, but I think it is difficult to know where to get off. Just ask the driver or some nice neighbor. Once there, I didn't know which bus to take, but this isn't a problem either (even with no Spanish knowledge), because everybody is helping you / wants to show you the "right" company.
I was routed to the counter of Berlinave - can't be bad if there is Berlin in the name of the company. Took a bus to Barranquila, where staff was welcoming us and bringing us to the counter again to buy the ticket for Santa Marta. The bus left 3 minutes later and I arrived at 9pm in Santa Marta. I was proud of myself to get there without any help this time
For sure, Santa Marta was once as beautiful and important as Cartagena. But today, it is not a city that is worthing spending a long time. That's why a lot of people on stay there for one night before they are traveling to Tairona, the lost city or to Tatonga. I stay there, because my flight the next day to Bogota was from Santa Marta.

Although there is not much to see, I enjoyed the few hours I was there. In the evening, the people were still swimming in the ocean (at 10pm!), there was music on the street or people just having a drink at the El Rodadero Beach. I stayed in the XXX hostel, which was mentioned in my tourist guide. It was cheap, but I think next time I will try a different hostel that are available for about the same rate. The hostel was a little bit run down and I tried to avoid the washing facilities in the room. Not to mention the toilet in the room without a ceiling so one could hear everything...
The next day, I was visiting the few tourists sights: the Museo d'Oro, the cathedral and the most important one, the Quinta de San Pedro Alejandrino. Simon Bolivar was not only important to Venezuela but also for Columbia. He was born in Caracas, was in Europe during the French Revolution and once back in South America he was fighting for the separation of the colonies from Spain. His idea was to create one country Grand Columbia covering the territories of todays Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, and Bolivia. He didn't succeed with this idea, but he was leading the various countries to the indepence of Spain. Despite his big success, in his last years, he lived without much political support in Santa Marta where he died in 1830 on the Quinta I was visiting. The Quinta is today in a botanical garden, one can see his bed of death and the clock at the wall shows the time of his death. Since Simon Bolivar is a very important historicla person for entire South America, I think it is worth visiting this place.
No, I don't want to say anything about the flights again, but about the airport in Santa Marta. It is directly at the beach and from the little parking right in front of the terminal, it takes you one minute to the water. I enjoyed my last swim there!
Back in Bogota, Natalia couldn't belive that I made the way from the airport to her home in a bus. Took the bus for about one hour and had to walk the last streets. She couldn't belive it, saying that she would never take it - obviously it is a dodge area where I got off. I didn't see anything and didn't feel unsafe at all. Altough it was dark already, it wasn't too late. It was just about 7pm.

The who is who in the mud!

The who is who in the mud!

Walking on the beach before lunch.

Walking on the beach before lunch.

Scene at the beach in Santa Marta.

Scene at the beach in Santa Marta.

Bed of death of Simon Bolivar.

Bed of death of Simon Bolivar.

Cathedral in Santa Marta.

Cathedral in Santa Marta.

One of the few beautiful houses in Santa Marta.

One of the few beautiful houses in Santa Marta.

© Dominik Weber, 2010
You are here : Overview The Americas Colombia 29-30 March Vulcano El Totumo and Santa Marta
The trip
 
Description:
After working for too long without a real break, I decided to go on a long planned backpack trip. After changing the departure date and the destination several times, I decided to go to South America. Starting in Colombia, then Peru and finishing in Bolivia. At least, this was the plan but once on tour, you never know what to expect. This report is for all people asking how I am doing, but also for those who are thinking about doing something similar. I hope I can inspire them.
Details:
Start of journey: Mar 19, 2010
Duration: 13 weeks
End of journey: Jun 15, 2010
Travelled countries: Colombia
Peru
Bolivia
The Author
 
Dominik Weber is an active author on break-fresh-ground. since 11 years.
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