Wallowing in the mud in Totuma

So this year has been a lot less travel oriented than I would of hoped and as such I’ve not been posting very much. I’ve been looking through my drafts on here & finding posts that were started and never finished by me, I’m assuming due to extreme laziness, being reunited with Netflix and possible even being busy with work. I’m reminiscing, polishing & am going to finally post these stories left long languishing in my draft folder. Its kinda nice looking back.

Cartagena, the poster child of Colombia with its brightly coloured winding streets, sweeping sea views and impressive fort guarding over the city had been suggested to me for a vacation solidly since I’d arrived in Colombia. It was recommended for its fantastic restaurants, upmarket hotels & the beautiful surroundings. So finally with my time working in Bogota drawing to a close I jumped a quick plane and found myself touching down in the sweltering colourful streets of Cartagena.

I stayed at the beautiful, central and friendly El Viajero from which I I booked a trip to the Totuma mud volcano.

Just a short bus ride from Cartagena’s old town the mud volcano promises rejuvenation and health benefits galore, wallowing in the magical mud is meant to leave you revitalized as well as having glowing skin soft as a baby. The story surrounding the 50ft high volcano is one of religion conquering fire & ash as locals claim a priest tamed the mighty fires of Tatumo with a sprinkling of holy water which reduced  the burning lava to the relaxing muddy pool that it is today. I imagine that when the priest blessed the volcano turning into the gloopy mud bath he didn’t imagine it filled with filled with sun burnt tourists, go pros and the occasional floating plaster. But that’s how I found the volcano. Apparently in the wet season the mud of the volcano fills right to the top and you can sit admiring the surrounding lakes. As I visited when the volcano was drier me & the others on my tour had to climb down a ladder to get to the soothing mud. Jumping into the mud was bizarre, you found yourself suspended in this liquid that was so viscous that it supported your weight, leaving you floating, feeling weightless in the chocolatey brown goo.

For a small charge there were men in the volcano who would float you on your back and front and massage the mud into your skin. It was awkward laying there staring up at the other people waiting to lower themselves down into the mud while treating yourself to more of a clumsy rub down than a massage but I’d do it again.

Finally I emerged from the mud baths looking like a cement dipped version of myself, spitting mud & actually feeling pretty relaxed. That wasn’t to last for long.

totumoBefore we arrived at the volcano we were told that a woman would ask whether I needed help with washing myself in the lagoon after the volcano and I could tell her yes or no. I was plumping for no, it wasn’t expensive, but I’m a big girl, I’ve managed washing myself pretty well for about 20 years now, so I didn’t really feel as though I needed the help. In the end saying no wasn’t as straight forward as I had expected. With tourists to wash & money to be earned the women working in the lake were taking every customer they could.
I had a couple of seconds of peacefully sitting in the water appreciating the view before a woman seemingly attempted to drown me by pouring a bucket over my head with one hand and pulling off my top with the other. It was a skilful manoeuvre that made it hard to explain to someone that you don’t need their help while trying to breathe and also cover up your nipples. As I sat there struggling to catch my breath and cover my nakedness at the same time I got slightly hysterical, I couldn’t stop laughing. So I was sat naked in a lake, laughing my head of being doused by water and being cleaned by a not too gentle Colombian lady with little regard for whether I could breathe under water.The final violation came as she poked her fingers in my ears and swirled a finger forcefully around my belly button. Definitely one of my weirdest travel experiences.

I felt like I’d been assaulted and I’d paid for the privilege.

Wallowing in the mud at Totumo mud volcano just outside Cartagena. Awkward massages and river rub downs for all.

Wallowing in the mud at Totumo mud volcano just outside Cartagena.
Awkward massages and river rub downs for all.

I had a great time at the Totuma volcano, the area was beautiful and it was a really unique experience that while definitely not luxurious it was actually great for my skin & definitely worth the visit.

Trips to the volcano can be extremely pricy when booked with big companies. I shopped around and found hostels offering wildly different prices for the same trip. I’d really recommend popping in to a few different hostels and comparing prices so you don’t get ripped off.

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