Getting a bit grub before we got on the ferry
After the headless nightlife of Cartagena, I headed out in to the country for a bit of tranquility - well that's what i thought anyway. The LP recommends going to Mompos for the trip through the outback of Colombia....well, it is a hell of a journey I can say that! I left Cartagena on the only bus heading that way at 7.30am ($CP35,000), and pretty much as soon as we left town we hit a crap barely tarmaced road which was a total bone-cruncher. There was no chance of reading or sleeping, so the iPod was my only consolation for the journey. When we arrived in Mangangue, we had to cross the river, but the ferry didn't leave until 1pm.
The random vehicle ferry at Mangangue
So the local lady cooked up some cheap and tasty food next to the ferry and we shaded from the intense heat until we were called for the ferry. The bus just drove onto the ferry along with the queue of other vehicles looking to get to the other side. We gently cruised down the river for about half an hour (there was bloke selling quality fresh orange juice for $CP1,500/50p/75c) and got to the other side. It was another 2 hours or so to Mompos on half tarmac, half dirt roads....boy was my arse glad to get off that bus! I got chatting to Bengt (Sweden) and we decided to get dorms at La Casa Amarilla, a nice little place near the bus station.
Mompos is a real backwater town, that is perfect for chilling out (well, sweating out really as its bloody boiling there!), the locals just sit around chewing the fat and generally enjoying the slow pace of life.
Fresh orange juice, old school style...gotta love it!
The streets are nice and quiet, and the town has a really nice feel to it. I only stayed one night as there´s wasn´t quite enough life for me and I was getting conscious of my time remaining in South America...I still have a lot to see! So I booked my ticket for the next day, which involved a combination of transport....I was up at 5.30am to get picked up at 6am by a collectivo
- typical for South America, we didn´t leave at 6.00 as we were supposed to...no, we drove back to the transport station, where the driver had his breaky. We then drove round town to try and drum up some more business (I started as the only passenger!), then returned to the bus station, where we did find some other people. We finally looked like leaving, got 10 minutes down the road then one of the woman passengers started saying she needed to go back to the bus station because she needed a bag to put her arepa
(breakfast) in!!! Only in South America.
The riverfront in Mompos
..so we went back, got her a bag and finally we were on our way, well after 7am. Given that my bus from El Banco to Bucarramanga was at 8.30am and it was at least 2 hours to El Banco from Mompos, I wasn´t best pleased and was cussing under my breath as we got on our way. Hell of a journey too, mainly dirt tracks that were so pot-holed, I was bumped out of my seat and bumping my head on the roof....this really did not add to my mood. The short little Colombians did not have this problem...ggrrr! After managing to keep all my teeth in the mouth, we finally arrived in El Banco at 9.15am. The only saving grace was that my 8.30am bus was also running late (surprise, surprise), so I was able to get on and we left around 9.30am. And what was meant to be a 7 hour bus journey turned into a 10 hour journey as we were forced to wait two times (for about 45 each time) for roadworks and once for a smash-up, where a truck had gone into a ditch and spilled it load everywhere.
Nice little sunset in Mompos
The scenery was beautiful as we´re neared Bucarramanga, up and through the mountains, but by this time I wasn´t in the mood to appreciate it! We finally arrived at 7.30pm and my hellish two days of travel were over....never again! I consoled myself by going to Frisbys
for a chicken burger and chips, before passing out at Kasa Guane hostel...I was shattered!