|Hey This is the beginning of South America!!
Cartagena looks absolutely amazing from the air and the Rosario islands are just a few miles offshore and show all the colours of the sea that I have ever seen. There is a great range from the lightest turquoise to the deepest purples. I am determined to go there and do some diving or at least snorkelling.
The City stretches for miles out on a narrow spit and there are high rise buildings dotted along the beaches. I can se that I am going to enjoy this place. The City itself looks surrounded by very large walls and old fashioned buildings all on the interior of the walls.
I find myself in a very cheap hostel in getsemani within the outside walls of the old city and the owner of the hostel tells me never to turn left out of the hostel or I will be surely robbed. I think at this early stage of South America I might just take that advice, so I turn right and head into the city. It is absolutely the best city I have yet encountered in Latin America and even this far in the West. I have not yet encoountered any drug lords or any crazy people. THe people of Colombia are very friendly and helpful. They seem very proud of their jewel city and country. It is just a shame that not many tourists(other htan Israeli`s) are actually coming to Colombia.
I did make a boat trip over to the Rosario National Parque one day, to pay exhorbitant prices for a mask and goggles which aided in the snorkelling tour. THat over we were herded back onto the boats and went to Playa Blanca, a beautiful beach where a young lady insisted on giving me a massage, despite my protests to being fine thankyou. SHe obviously didn`t speak English as she paid no heed and started massaging anyway. I felt the guilt of needing to pay her for her service when she had finished- that and she said she would stop staring at me and go away if I paid her. The day was very nice in the end, even if very mass touristy.
About an hour`s drive out of Cartagena, there is a small volcano which bubbles mud- which of course we all know makes us ever youthful and perfect looking, so I decided that I definately needed to make this journey. I took a CHiva( a local wooden bus which is brightly decorated inside and out- some even have rum served on board along with dancing in the aisles or on your seat) for the journey and it consequently blew up at the local National guard checkpoint- just another event in an already eventful journey. WE stood at the side of the road for an hour until another could come and rescue us.
WE eventually made it to this volcano where we duly climbed the 12-15 m mountain and dipped ourselves in the mud from head to toe. THere were some kindly Columbian men who continued to offer me a massage within this mudpool, despite my protests of being just fine thankyou. It was a very strange feeling being so buoyant and floating on the mud. I could barely move, but decided to try and touch the bottom all the same. I could barely push myself under let alone to the bottom which I now learn is nearly 50 ft down. A most unusual VOlcano to say the least, but far less smelly than the equally bizarre volcanic mud in Rotarua, NZ. At the end of this we raced down to the nearby lake where some equally enthusiastic women were waiting to help us wash all that lovely beautifying mud off again. I look at least ten years younger that my real age now. A very worthwhile trip`in my books. The tourguide said the mud is called virgin mud., but I think it has made virgins of all of us who have dared. WHo needs that really cheap cosmetic surgery now?
I love South America- especially COlombia