Once we finally got our Van, we parked at the Cartagena Convention center and spread ourselves out quite chaotically and got our situation organized. Well, as organized as can be. We rushed over to the airport to conveniently pick up our dear friend, Tierra, who is vacationing in Columbia for 2 weeks. Upon seeing each other, all we could do was laugh.
On our way out of town toward Santa Marta, we picked up two sweaty french hitch hikers holding a “Santa Marta” sign. With Darin and I in the front seats, the kids in the back seat, and Tierra and the 2 french hitch hikers sitting on their backpacks, we made our way.
For the sake of the boys, we took a left turn prompted by a “Volcan de Lodo de Totumo” sign. We all laughed at the sight of the small volcano, which seemed like a large bump of dirt with a couple of rickety wooden ladders to the top.
Instead of spewing ashes and lava, this volcano gurgles up mud. We immediately decided that that because of the fee, only the kids would swim in the unseen mud pit. Despite the reassurance that it wasn’t dangerous, and that I should just let the kids go to the top and jump in the mud, I insisted on accompanying them. When I got to the top, I was surprised at the display of mud that lay 15 feet below us. The kids climbed down the rickety ladder and began swimming around in the volcan. After watching them for a few minutes, it became obvious that we couldn’t pass this up.
I yelled down to Darin, Tierra and the french guys that we just had to pay the money and do it.
We bobbed around in the mud and couldn’t sink even if we tried, but we also could tell that the mud went on for at least 20 feet.
We eventually got out and made our way down the path to the beautiful lake nearby to wash off. We all felt particularly refreshed.
We spent the night of Darin’s 40th birthday by the beach in Puerto Columbia near the Pier. We celebrated with wine (hard to come by here), a delicious homemade dinner, and we ate an entire cake, which the boys and I had purchased in Cartagena, and smuggled in the van so that Darin wouldn’t see it. We were told that the place we’d sparked at was “peligroso”, we moved to a different spot less than a km down the beach set us camp there. Darin and the kids slept in the van and Tierra and I slept in the tent on the beach. Darin got a visit from the local police, curious about our set up and we lay awake most of the night because of the heat and the few Colombians blaring music out of their car parked in front of us until 4am. Unbeknownst to us, this would mark the first of many nights spent awake, wondering how South Americans can party until 5am every weekend.
We woke up early to some sweet looking waves, ate breakfast and headed a few miles down to Pradomar, where the surfing is said to be on very consistently. We got what we came for.
In the dark of the evening, we arrived in Taganga hot, tired, and very hungry. Taganga is a tourist respite where many are said to never leave. It has the charm of everything Columbia with a few amenities we haven’t encountered in nearly two weeks….like salad!
When we woke up and walked down to the water this morning, it had a South Pacific feel, with calm water and small fishing boats anchored in the cove.
We’re trying to figure out the groove of doing this with our Van. The driving is insane, vehicles of all sizes pass when they shouldn’t on fast roads and if you don’t follow suit, you get honked at indefinitely. The camping has been a bit uncomfortable due to the heat, the nightly police visits, and the fact that we normally don’t camp on the side of the road in cities. We seem to be focused on the basics of clean clothes, food, and places to sleep…with a some serious enjoyment in between.