Cartagena, Colombia

The mud volcano near Cartagena

There is the weirdest tourist attraction I’ve ever heard of or been to, about an hour out of Cartagena. It’s a mud volcano where you pay good money to slosh about in your swimsuit in a mud bath, while being massaged by Colombian men (who frankly, have a dream job; they should have been paying me), then when you’re covered in mud you traipse down to the lagoon where the local women strip you completely, and clean your every nook and cranny as well as your bathing suit. But what’s weirdest is that it’s the best fun I’ve had in ages. It’s a really bizarre experience.

I had arranged it through the Spanish school, and set off with one of the other students.  We set off in a little mini-van on quite a nice drive, and interesting to see some of the Colombian countryside, before reaching ourr final destination, Volcan de lodo el Totumo. We climbed what looks like a giant ant hill, and descend into a pit of mud. It has the consistency of very thick cream,  apparently with therapeutic qualities. It’s incredibly deep, but is incredibly buoyant and impossible to sink in it. The optional extras include someone to take photos on your camera and watch your stuff, men massaging you in the pool, and the women who wash you down later. But it’s all dirt cheap – the recommended going rate for tipping is $3000 pesos (US$1.50) per person. I highly recommend it, lots of fun, with most of the time spent laughing at the absurdity of it.

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