in a town on the rivers mouth
05.03.2010 - 06.03.2010
Mompos was our chosen destination, it is a colonial town and a UNESCO world heritage site on the banks of the river Magdalena. To get there we had to take two buses, a boat and a finally a taxi. We thought the boat was going to take us all the way there and were a little bit disappointed when about 20 minutes into the trip we were told to get off. I fell asleep in the taxi though and so for me it didn't take too much longer to get there.
We'd read and heard that Mompos was meant to be really, really beautiful. Lily for one had gone on about how pretty it was, so we were a bit confused when we arrived. However this is one of those times when you shouldn't judge a book by its cover. Once we'd found a room in a cheap hotel we went out to explore. It is a little rough around the edges, the white buildings aren't bedazzling and it does feel slightly run down but this is really part of its charm. To us it felt real. We went down to the river and walked along it for a while which was very peaceful and pretty.
On our way there I bought a pair of hand made silver earrings, which were very intricate in their design. Being a silver or goldsmith is a very traditional profession which still survives in Mompos today.
Simon Bolivar the Liberator spent a large amount of time in Mompos and said 'If I owe my life to Caracas, then to Mompos I owe my glory.'
It is quite a small place so it didn't take too long to walk around and by the time we had finished we were absolutely starving. We found a nice restaurant to eat in and the people were extremely friendly. While we were eating we began to discuss what we were going to do the following day. We wanted to get to Bogota but we had to figure out what the cheapest way was. Our choices were to go through either Medellin or Bucaramanga (the way we'd come). As we looked in to it more and more we came to the decision that it would be cheaper to go back through Bucaramanga which would mean missing Medellin but neither of really had the energy for another city. How to begin our journey was a little confusing though as it seemed the only buses out of Mompos departed at around 5am and if you didn't get a bus you could get a jeep but you had to book in advance. We looked on the internet and also tried to ask the people at the hotel but in the end just decided we'd get up very early, go out on to the street and hope it would all become clear.
Which of course it did, we tend to stick out with our massive backpacks on and sure enough the few people out and about asked us where we were trying to get to. So by 5:30am we were on a bus heading for El Banco and then just outside this town we got off and climbed on to another bus bound for Bucaramanga. This leg of our long day of travelling took about seven hours but it seemed to pass quite quickly. Once in Bucaramanga we booked our bus to Bogota for that evening at 8pm, and as it was now only 2pm we had 6 hours to kill. With this in mind we headed into the town to have lunch and a bit of a walk around. It unfortunately wasn't very attractive and there wasn't a lot to do. My knees were painful so we couldn't do too much walking, we tried to locate a cinema but none of the films were on at the right times so in the end we were on the way back to the bus station. We ended up killing quite a lot of time on the bus though as we missed our stop and were taken on a little tour which went through some nicer parts of the city. In the end our waiting time seemed to go by quite quickly, I think we've become experts at time wasting time and lengths of time seemed to have taken on a completely different meaning. Still as always it was nice to be on the bus, the last long haul bus of the entire trip which was an odd thing to realise.
Laura & Adam