Volcan el Lodo del Totumo
Bathing in a mud volcano (Volcan de Lodo) in Colombia, just north of Cartagena sounded like a great idea. This “mud spa” was created by natural gases emitted by decaying organic matter underground. The mounting pressure of these gases pushes the mud upwards where it hardens above ground, creating a miniature mud-filled crater. The volcano’s cool mud runs down into the earth about 2000m. But you float, really (especially if you have boobs).
I learned long ago, never to wrestle with a pig. You get dirty, and besides, the pig likes it.
~George Bernard Shaw
The opportunity to roll around like a pig in mud was high on my lists of things to do, so you can imagine how excited I was when I discovered it was possible in Colombia!
Located halfway between Cartagena and Barranquilla on Colombia’s Caribbean coast, El Volcan del Totumo has the honor of being Colombia’s tallest mud volcano. It’s only 20 meters, but it contains enough mud for 50 or so wanna-be piglets to play in it’s troff.
It took an hour or so later to drive our minibus driver took 8 Australian backpackers, one American traveler from Las Vegas, a tour administrator and Miro and myself to our volcano destination.
Okay, so it isn’t much to look at – not like one of the impressive volcanoes surrounding our one time home in Antigua, Guatemala, not so long ago. But still had the volcano classification, so I guess it was ok.
For the wanna-be pigs, a crooked and rickety set of stairs were constructed for two-legged walkers, not four, clinging to the side of the volcano by seemingly, sheer will. The rails were thick with dried mud, creating sculptural bumps on the rail. With a little apprehension we followed our fellow travelers cling to sides the uneven railing as we ascended to the top.
We were told to leave all of our belongings in the van and our shoes at the base of the stairs. Go upward in your bathing suits only, and see what awaits you! As so we did….
We climbed up the stairs to the top, where we found our natural mud pen reinforced with wooden wood stumps, and full of people rolling around in some not-so-erotic-piggy-orgy. They all had smiles on their faces and they were very, very dirty (again, in the not-so-erotic-way).
I got in first, then had to convince the not-so-sure Miro to join me. But in the end he did, not opting for getting his face muddy as the only stipulation. The mud was thick and buoyant. We were pushed and pulled, floated across the top, as our bodies glided straight across the surface of the mud.
We were even massaged by a mud masseuse, now that’s a job.. Spending your day in the mud, pig handling people for cash.. I like the sound of that….
We played, slapped the mud, formed mud mohawks with our hair, perfected our mud facials. Some in our group went under, but popped up quickly gouging the mud from their eyes and mouths. Most of all the crowded mud pen contained people just like me, having fun, floating in the muddy oasis enjoying the primal urge to get dirty.
Oh, did I mention it was like a spa treatment, good for your skin? (I added that for you, Mom)
After about 40 minutes in the mud, we all retreated to the cool lagoon, just 20 meters away. There awaited village woman ready with plastic buckets to wash you, whether you want their help or not. In fact, the second you entered the lagoon, you were in their territory, and it was if we became their possessions. They scrubbed the mud from inside and behind my ears. They rinsed my hair, they removed my bathing suit top and tried to get the mud from under my breasts. Boy they were fast and knew what they were doing. I even saw a couple of guys in my group who were standing shoulder deep in the lagoon, and their women were rinsing out their removed bathing suits. These women were fast and no funny business, just clean, clean, clean.