Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Mud bath and massage in Volcan El Totumo plus Taganga, Colombia

Aww cool!  I finally got my bike back. It always feels good to know I can continue my journey. And it's in great company outside our hostel in Cartagena!



Graffiti has really stood out to us in this town. I'm feeling inspired to take a couple spray cans to my bike.

We're packed up and ready to roll after we have the breakfast our new hostel provides.  I know I carried on in the last post about how great this place is, and it was beautiful! But when it came to brekkie, it did not live up to the dream.  A tiny bit of cold scrambled eggs and rock hard stale bread. Oh well, you win some you lose some. 


We're heading north in Colombia first to Volcan El Totumo where we hear the mud bath can't be missed.. and then further on through Santa Marta to Taganga, Colombia.

On the way out of town, we discuss the roads to take as an easy way out of Cartagena.  Kevin then decided to forget what we talked about and followed the gps into the old town instead.  I'm still not sure if he did that on purpose, because we loved it there so much or he thought the gps had a better route than the one we already knew. But we were stuck in inescapable traffic on those old cobblestone skinny streets for what seemed like forever.  Might as well enjoy the gorgeous old town one last time, hey?

Arriving Volcan El Totumo.  This is not the vision of what I expected of a volcano, but here goes.



We had looked at this place online before leaving Cartagena. I can honestly say I wasn't excited to come here.  It looks ridiculously touristy, and I read other travelers comments about the Colombian men who massage you as soon as you're in the mud. Just sounds so weird.

It's one of those things... Kevin really really wants to do it and I decided to put my opinions aside for this one. (Well, I just lied and I take that back. I did voice my opinions, it's just that I lost.. ;-) Once we get undressed and head up the stairs of the gigantic mud mound we find Dan and Brad already here.  They were loving it!!  Maybe it won't be so bad then.

Kevin goes first.  He's smiling, but not sure what to think yet.


The story about this mud from the volcano is that the 'pool' we are in is over 200 meters deep (according to the locals massaging us).  I looked on the internet to try to confirm that and I see numbers from 60' up to 2300 meters!  In other words, the people that tell you the depth are just making it up. Whatever it is, we tried to touch a bottom, any bottom, and none of us could. The mud density is so thick that we are able to 'float' on top.  The boys were trying to push each other down deeper and they couldn't.  They'd go down a few inches and pop right back up.


I get in and immediately the mud massage begins from the Colombian men.  It freaked me out at first, and then.. well, it's a massage in a pool of warm mud!  Of course it feels good!

I'm not sure about putting my head in, while the boys were trying hard to convince me of this too.  Kevin's sneaky hand kept reaching under the mud and pinching me while the guys were massaging and I'd scream every time.


Once the massages were done, we were pushed like fishing bob's to the "finished" side of the pool were we sat in the mud.  Literally, you can sit up in this mud as if you are sitting in a chair even though it has no bottom you can touch.  Really a unique experience!  I'm glad I came and a good reminder to keep an open mind.  It was described properly, it is super touristy, but nothing like I've ever experienced before.


You can't hang around long.  While here, two tour buses showed up from Cartagena. So they push you to the ladder and tell you to get out so more tourists can get in!

I love this photo of Kevin because I think the reflection of the sky makes him look like a blue smurf... ;-)


After we get out, you go down another set of stairs and into the lake were the women are there to help you wash off all the mud.  Swimming in the lake was nice, having a strange women take your swim suit off and scrub the mud out of it was weird.


After returning to the bikes, we sit down for lunch.  We all feel so relaxed there is no hurry to get on the bikes and ride.


Sam just finished and he's walking toward us.. No Sam!  Go to the lake first and then you can eat with us!! ;-))



After lunch we get back on the road to head up to Taganga in Santa Marta district.  I only have this one photo of the ride because it was super windy, I kept the camera tucked away while riding at what seemed like a 45 degree angle and concentrated on the road.  My rear tire is still completely bald and I'm just being a bit careful.


I remember so clearly Dan passing me on the road at top speed.  I wished I had my camera ready it was quite a sight.  The loud Kawasaki KLR, Dan in his black helmet slunched over the front bars like he was racing across the salt flats in the World's Fastest Indian movie.  And that surf board attached to the side of his bike. I feel embarrassed that Dan who has that gigantic board is riding better in the wind than I am.

We pulled into Taganga in the late afternoon and without wasting any time went on the search for a hostel.  Kevin's Spanish was getting better. He was in the asking mood so he tried 3 or 4 hostels.  A very small village and nothing is available. We then rode the back dirt roads of town and eventually came across Patrick's motorcycle in a hostel. He had left a couple days ahead of us and was already here.

Sorry I don't have photos but want it was quite the experience I still want to tell the story.

Patrick wasn't around. Kevin inquired about a room and he came out to me on the bike and said they have one, but I need you to look at it first.  I told him I trust his decision.  We had the gorgeous rustic princess room last night so I'm cool with doing it tough tonight.  He says, no you really need to see it first.  All the hostels before this one are booked out, so with little option, I agree to go in.  The manager takes me up four flights to the roof of the hostel, were they have this tiny temporary box made out of plywood and chicken wire.  The bed is small, but that's not new to us.  The problem is the room is so incredibly small we can't fit our bags in as well.  I looked at the manager and smiled but said, no way. The room is super cheap, but I'd rather camp than stay in there.  I did not want us to spend money on what appeared to be a mockery of taking advantage of backpackers.  They had a whole row of little plywood rooms attached up there like little jail cells.

The manager saw I was tired, disappointed and sweating hot after climbing to the roof. He said to me in Spanish, I've got an apartment downstairs, do you want to see it?  I said maybe, how much does it cost.  He said the same price as the room upstairs. Serious?? It's getting late, they are not expecting anyone else tonight, and we can have it if we want.  I go in, have a look.  It's big, has a kitchen, private bathroom and on top of that a HAMMOCK inside!

I go outside to speak to Kevin.  I asked him if he'd like to stay here in the apartment for the same price as the chicken box upstairs and you should have seen him.  The biggest hug and "you rock!"  (I felt very proud of myself... ;-)

So, that worked out well.  Showers and then a very lovely long walk on the beach and dinner in town.

When we got back to the apartment, it was quite late. I asked for the key and the new guy at the reception desk says, I've put more people in your room.. "You what?!?" I should have known it was too good to be true!

We went to the room to find 2 backpacks inside.  I was pissed off!  Both Kevin's and my personal stuff was scattered about, gps's, computers, iphones charging.. and there have been people in our room unannounced?  I argued with the young guy for a bit in my bad Spanish and he was being a jerk, so I picked up the backpacks and put them out the front and shut the door.  Shortly after, the older guy who sold me the room came by.  He was as kind as he was when we arrived, apologized, but said they needed the beds.  I totally understand that, I have stayed in many shared rooms before, but we are aware they are going to be shared!  Therefore, we lock up our stuff full time.  He never said he was going to sell the other 2 beds and he agreed that was correct.  However, he was still trying to convince me to let these people stay in our room.

I would not back down, so then they called in the female owner of the hostel.  She showed up in a pink terry cloth robe and her hair in curlers.  I so wish Kevin took photos!!!

I was too pissed off to think about getting my own camera out.  Anyway, I explained everything in Spanish and the lady wasn't happy with her employee, but she apologized for the misunderstanding and agreed to place the backpacker girls somewhere else.  She finally left.

Kevin who is enjoying watching the whole thing from the hammock, looks up at me totally grinning, and says.. "You are so sexy when you argue in Spanish!"  We started laughing and that was that.

I don't usually like to write without including photos, but whenever we would meet people on the road, Kevin liked to tell this story, so there ya go.

Vamos a la playa!  Next stop, Taganga..  Ciao ;-)

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3 comments:

  1. Was the mud really hot? were these guys professional or just a way to grab woman?

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  2. Hi George, no the mud temp was perfect, not too hot, not too cold. The men were professional, they do a short massage for a tip and it was fine. The only one making me scream was Kevin ;-)

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  3. Did you let the helpers dunk you completely under the mud?

    ReplyDelete