Thursday, October 6, 2016

Gettin' Down and Dirty!!

Spa days are something that many people enjoy. Being able to pamper yourself for an hour or two with a relaxing massage or mud bath/facial is a great way to relieve pent up stress or to treat yourself after a long week. This is definitely a luxury for many Americans, as high prices and limited free time hinders many people from enjoying this treat as often as they would like to. Well, here in Colombia, there is a simple solution to this dilemma and it comes in the form of a volcano.

El Volcán del Totumo (Totuma Volcano) is a 50-foot tall volcano that is located between Barranquilla and Cartagena along the Via del Mar. It is filled with a warm, dense mud that is believed to have cleansing properties that will lead bathers more wholesome and beautiful skin. The legend has it that this volcano used to emit fire, lava, and ash. However, with the help of a local priest who was convinced that this was the work of the Devil, these harmful substances were turned into mud by the simple act of sprinkling some holy water into the volcano. Today, it is a very popular tourist destination, with the majority coming from Cartagena.

When we first arrived in country, we were told about this volcano and it immediately jumped to the top of our list of places to check out. Well, almost two years later, I can finally say that I have been. A couple of weekends ago, Caitlin, Katrina, Jessi, Derek, and I made our way to this volcano to check it out and see what it was all about. It did not disappoint.

After paying an entrance fee of $10.000 pesos (approximately $3.00), we climbed some steep steps to the top of the volcano. We had a little guy who guarded our stuff and escorted us around the park, which was nice. As I entered into the volcano itself, the mud slowly suctioned itself around my legs, waist, and torso. Instead of sinking straight down to the bottom of the volcano, I found myself suspended in this warm, think muck. It's what I imagine space travel to be like - minus the slime and grime.

We spent over an hour just chilling in the mud. It was a beautiful day and we found multiple ways to entertain ourselves, as only a group of gringos truly can. About halfway through our experience, we were joined by a group of Austrian bros who were probably on a trip to Cartagena and paid an exorbitant amount of money to come check out this treasure. Getting out of the pit itself became a balancing act between trying to rid yourself of as much mud as possible without slipping back into the volcano itself.

After we had all emerged looking more like creatures from the Black Lagoon than humans, we slowly descended down to ground level and proceeded to a nearby lagoon to wash off. We thought that we would be able to just leisurely enter the lagoon and wash ourselves. However, we were sorely mistaken as out of nowhere a group of women appeared and directed us to various crates situated near massive tanks of water. What happened next is something that I can only describe as an aggressive, anger laden rubdown. Water was splashed in my face, mud was forcifully rubbed off my skin, and a few shakes of my shorts completed the experience. We made our way back to Katrina's house and napped for the rest of the day.

I'm so glad that I was able to successfully check this experience off my Colombian bucket list before leaving. With only three weeks left in country, it's memories and experiences like this one that I will never forget. Now if only we had discovered the magical properties of this place earlier...

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