Since unfortunately we didn't have the extra couple of hundred dollars available for the boat trip, we sucked it up and bought our flights while we were in Granada. It was pretty frustrating then to arrive into Panama City and see not one, but two boats, advertised for less than our flights had cost us. Oh well, rainy season has set in so perhaps the voyage would be a bit miserable! Well, that's what we are going to keep telling ourselves anyway!
We were on the red-eye flight to Cartegena so arrived at the airport at stupid o'clock in the morning, only to be checked in by a lady who had obviously woken up on the wrong side of the bed. Colombia's immigration regulations say that a person arriving without an onward ticket 'could' (and could is the key word here) be refused entry. Now, we have flights booked out of Chile for the end of July and intend to bus our way from Colombia to Chile. Unfortunately South American bus companies aren't as technologically savvy as some in the western world so its not actually possible to buy a bus ticket on-line before you arrive in the country. We were prepared to take our chances and do battle with the Colombian officials if we needed to (as we had successfully done in Costa Rica), but mrs grumpy pants was having none of it, refusing to let us board the plane. In the end we had to fork out over $1000 USD for a return flight to Panama (thank god my credit card wasn't maxed out!) which she assured us will be refunded. What she forgot to tell us is that it may take 2 months and they wont refund their fees or the taxes. Freaking fantastic! So a word to any future visitors, fake an onward ticket!
The following morning Juan booked us onto a tour to Volcan Tototumo, the mud volcanoe. Renowned for its health benefits, the 15m high volcanoe really looks a bit like a giant ant hill. Once you reach the top you climb down some stairs and lay back into the mud which apparently goes down 1300km. A little freaky if you think about it, but the mud is so dense it is impossible to sink!! Its the weirdest feeling! Ty was literally pushing down on my shoulders with all his strength and he got me down to my chin, but the second he let go, I popped back up to the surface. The company we went with works with a local indigenous community and there are guys in the crater who will give you massages for about the equivalent of $2 usd. Because the mud is so dense they can massage you on the front and back at the same time which is totally surreal. After a good soaking, you climb back out and head down to the lake where the local ladies proceed to wash you as if you are a child. While you think that its something you can certainly do yourself the mud is so so sticky that it really does take their aggressive washing style to remove it all, even if some of your dignity is removed at the same time. ha ha. We were then driven to a nearby beach for a delicious lunch before we were dropped back to the hostel.
Next stop: Medellin