Home > Uncategorized > A journey to mompox, a surrealistic Colombian Town in the Magdalena river, part one

A journey to mompox, a surrealistic Colombian Town in the Magdalena river, part one

A four hours ride by road and 210 kilometers (about 125 miles) of distance have brought us from the historic, splendid and fun-loving city of Cartagena, to the colorful port of Magangue, by the Magdalena River, in northern Colombia. The scenery along the way is a combination of verdant plains, dotted with amazingly picturesque small villages, nestled along or near the shores of the impressive Magdalena River. Jairo is our local guide and even though our destination is  the legendary town of Mompox; his enthusiasm in telling us all about the culture and nature of this extraordinary and not yet fully discovered region of Colombia, makes us want to stop at every sight of some new and unimagined location, whether a natural observatory or the warm and hospitable people of the countryside, going about their slow-paced lives and chores, while they wave with friendly gestures to the not too frequent foreign visitors who cross the area.

It is tropically hot at the midday hour, as we proceed to Yati, where we catch the local ferry which crosses the Magdalena River.  As there are established hours for the ferry’s departures, we arrive pretty much on time for the 2:00 pm departure.  We just have time to munch on some fruit, and drink plenty of water, trying to protect ourselves from the intense sunshine.  The humidity is high but not unpleasant… It is all about a certain tropical sensuality lingering in the air…. Soon we are making the beautifully scenic passage across the mighty Magdalena River, through Puerto Limon and onto Mompox, an additional 2 hours ride, where the terrifically happy and contagious north Colombian music accompanies our voyage, as we watch the admirable landscapes of this hidden paradise, full of color, intriguing stories and the extreme colorfulness of the riverside villages we pass by, such as Punta de Cartagena, La Bodega and Talaigua Nueva.

Towards the late afternoon, as we approach our destination, we are fortunate to catch those magic glimpses of Mompox, under the flaming sun, which inspired more than one famous name, including Simon Bolivar and Colombian Literature Nobel Laureate, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, to see Mompox as a sort of dream, that actually does not exist, but we know it’s there, we can smell its tropical air, feel it over our skin and still have that magical sensation of living through a dream. The sights are beyond words, yet Jairo, our guide, is skilled enough to provide us with more inspiring insights about the village’s history, without disrupting those moments of daydreaming we are going through as we reach the truly picturesque town, nestled on an island, in the middle of the large Magdalena River. Soon we are our way to the small but pleasant and discretely comfortable hotel.  As we go by, Jairo points out the town’s cemetery, quite a sight as it shines under the reddish and orange rays of the sunset, casting a mantle of rainbow-like colors over the sun-bleached tombs, while hordes of cats and kittens roam about the place, an unusual and peculiar sight. The pretty church of Santa Barbara, for many Momposeans, the town’s most beautiful, also shines with magic tones, as worshipers, mainly women, rush to the evening church services.

After settling at our pretty hotel, Ivan, myself and Jairo go out on our first exploration of Mompox, one marked by the near-mystical combination of rare beauty and uniqueness, along with the more mundane, yet truly enjoyable sound of the Vallenato music, one that inevitably sets you on a merry mood and invites to sip a cold Colombian beer, likely to be followed by a few more, while we choose a lively open air bar and restaurant to enjoy a dinner of local specialties, which include fresh fish, cooked or braised the Mompox, way: delicious, mysterious, unique…… A half-moon sending silver reflexes over the river, accompanies us on our way back to the Hotel. The rest of this story will be told on the next episode….

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