I thought my 30th last year was a milestone. But I learnt on Tuesday that its not until you turn 31 that you actually feel like “fuck, I’m actually well and truly in my 30’s now.” Quite a miserable feeling to be honest! 🙁
Fortunate, then, that I happened to be in Colombia, South America, close to an active mud volcano in which I could wallow to “wash” away my sorrows! It was about 1 hour from Cartagena, we took an organised trip. The mud volcano is 2000m deep filled with this weirdly viscous mud that is so dense that us humans float in it. Much to my dismay, fat floats even more incredibly well, almost like it’s trying to fly away (unfortunately it didn’t).
Local men massage you in the mud pool, though this felt much more like an initiation than a massage, and was akin to something of a production line process of them pushing and spinning you around in the mud before moving their attention to the next paying customer.
After 30/45 minutes in the mud pool, we descended an incredibly slippery stairway down to the lake adjacent to the volcano to wash the mud off. Slopping around in the shallow waters amonst lily pads and reids, all I could think of was the lakes likeness to stagnant pools we’d seen in the Amazon – pools which were infested with Pirahna, Anacondas and Cayman.
But fear we needn’t have, because local women were at hand to offer an “optional” wash down (read… totally unoptional and enforced, and not for free). We quickly succumbed to the persistence of the washer ladies when we realised the mud was so thick it was near impossible wash off yourself. So they directed you to sit yourself down on in the lake, remove your swim shorts (“Naked! Naked!” they shouted), while they gave a proper cleaning off. Thankfully, they focussed their efforts on cleaning your swim shorts whilst we could concentrate on getting the mud from our “private bits” in peace.
After the longest 5minutes of my life, it somehow felt appropriate to give the cleaner ladies a naked “thank you hug”, which they received with much gratitude (mustn’t have been getting much action).
We retreated to the safety of our bus, which then took us off to a nearby beach where we had a typical local lunch of chicken, rice, salad and plantain. A swim in the sea cooled us off and got the mud from all those final hard to reach places.
Returning the Cartagena in the afternoon, we chilled for a while in the hostel, then strolled across town to the “Getsemani” area of the city; an area which 5 years ago was rife with crime and danger, but has been transformed into Cartagena trendy-hipster capital. Dinner was a delight, and a few beers set us right for an early night – it’s tiring wallowing in mud (people shouldn’t give pigs such a hard time!).
So, there were no surprise trips to Krakow, party trams or horseradish vodka this year, but all-in-all a birthday I won’t forget!
What memorable birthday experiences have you had? Where should I go next year? Comment below.