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Friday, September 23, 2011

Volcan de Lodo el Totumo

About half way between Barranquilla and Cartagena, sticking 49 feet from the flat landscape, is a mud mound that looks like a small volcano. Indeed it is a volcano, but rather than spewing lava it is filled with mud.

An ancient legend claims the volcano used to spew fire. The local priest believed it to be the work of the devil so he would sprinkle it with holy water. He extinguished the flames and turned the lava into mud which drowned the devil.

There are around 700 mud volcanos in the world. Most of these are in highly remote locations that are not accessible. Many are small and some are steaming hot. These volcanos emit gasses such as methane and helium. So, to find one that I can play in is a real treat.

We arrived mid-day when it was nice and quiet. We paid our $5,000 pesos (about $3.00 US), changed into our swimsuits and began the trek up the mud covered wooden staircase to the top. I didn't know what to expect. I came to the lip of the crater and looked down into a round pool that can hold 10-15 people smooth with mud. A staircase led into the pool. I turned around and began slowly descending into the mud. I didn't know when or if I would touch bottom. Now that I think about it, it is a volcano so according to definition there would be no bottom.

A man came over to assist my decent. The mud was thick and slightly warm. It had a bit of grit to it and a chunk every once in a while, but the mud is said to have healing properties. The man came over and began to massage me – included in the $3.00 fee. At this point I had lost all inabitions and just floated there enjoying the sun and the slimy feel of mud. The mud makes you very buoyant. It took concentration to keep from floating on the surface. Chad decided to go under. It's not possible by yourself, it took the masseuse all his weight to get Chad under.

After laughing and enjoying our soak we got out and started down the ladder. About half way down Chad wondered what it would be like to jump in. We went as quickly as possible with our slippery, muddy feet back up the wooden ladder. Chad pencil jumped then I followed with a cannon ball. Now we felt we had enjoyed the experience to the fullest.

We walked down the dirt road to the lagoon looking like complete zombies. At the lagoon we were met by some women ready to rinse us off. (Again included in our $3.00 fee.) It took quiet a bit of scrubbing before I began to feel the mud wash away but I was presented with a problem. A swimsuit full of mud giving me that “full diaper” feeling. I didn't care anymore – off with the suit. I felt like a maiden in Egypt bathing in the Nile River: warm water being poured on my head, reeds surrounding us, a boat in the distance... I ducked in the water, put my suit back on and headed to the changing room to get dressed.

We bought some cokes before we got back in the car to head to Barranquilla. It was probably one of the silliest, fun things I have ever done.

- Kris

1 comment:

  1. Fascinating! I loved the pictures. You look like statues.