The Journey to Mompox
Trip Start May 2006
28Trip End Aug 17, 2006
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We had some time, so we went down the mountains to Simiti, another storied village. When we got there it was brutually hot, silent, and full of concrete. Luckily it bordered a large swamp/lake. Dozen of fisherman were gliding along in small canoes. Some rowed, others prepared fish, using the paddle as cutting board, while others cast fishing nets
The boat trip today was the longest by far, over three hours, and the river had split into two arms, and the one that we travelled was still larger than the entire river when we first saw it in Honda. We stopped in the occaisonal hamlet, and among the things that entered the boat was a live chicken. Itīs owner kept it by her feet, where it only occaissonaly squawked. The main thing I noticed was abundant waterfowl. Some of them would race the boat, often beat us, and then fly away.
In El Banco, even before we docked, men were shouting at us, offering us motorcycle rides to Mompox. I guess they could spot tourists from far away, and it meant that it was somewhat common for them to come here, though still, I had not seen another foreigner, let a long another traveler since we began
We figured we should reward those two persistent men, and luckily they were right in the mix, so with no questions they brought their bikes, I strapped on by backpack, and sat on the back. I was glad to be getting out of this noisy dirty town, yet I knew it was pretty risky to ride with two random dudes, who could if they wanted to, do anything they wished with us. They put gas in their tanks, and we were off, the road lost its pavement almost immediately. I did my best to snap photos, though I held on either to a metal bar in back of me, or gently to the waist of the guy in front me. He was the only one of 4 of us to have a helmet
Initially, road had plenty of construction, which meant ruts, mounds of dirt, and puddles where the ruts were biggest. We passed by trucks, swamps, pig families, and cows that felt entitled to use the road at least as much as humans. There were also campesino huts and at one point begging children held up a christmas light wire in order to make us stop, but a mere glance from our moto-chaffeurs was enough to scare them away. After about 45 minutes, we suddenly turned around and caught up with another cyclist. Fernando switched drivers, as his lived in El Banco, while the other guy in Mompox. The new driverīs bike looked better, and I thought he would drive faster, and my guy with his shittier bike would try to keep up. Truth is though, my driver either kept up and sped ahead. The condition of the roads didnīt allow him to go more than about 50 miles per hour, and often we would have to break to a near stop to avoid or lessen obstacles.
I saw a sign for a Mompox ferry, and we turned toward that way. In a minute, we were by the river again
We finally did arrive at pavement, which I was thankful for, yet now I figured this meant we would go 120. Actually, it meant we were in Mompox, and after a few moments we were dropped off at a hotel. We paid them at total of 18 dollars for lift and the 2 1/2 hour experience and of course took a photo. Our skin was caked in dust, our hair and our beards had lightend considerably. It was though we had been bured alive and then resurrected. My legs ached as though I had been riding a horse. But we were in Mompox, a colonial city, that Bolívar loved more than almost all others. Little did I realize, that since Bolívar, the town had changed little.