The journey from Minca to Mompos

A rough one! It almost did me in. I thought I was tough, a seasoned traveler. Then I traveled from Minca to mompos with my two kids. On this blog I usually swoon about being on a road to nowhere, and how satisfying it is to be propelled through a foreign land in a bus or car. Not this time.

The day started out nicely enough. The ride in a jeep down the mountain to Santa Marta was on time, the right price, and he took us right to the bus station. We bought our bus ticket easily for the next ride out to Bosconia, which would leave in 45 minutes giving us just the right amount of time to grab some bus station breakfast. The bus was nice too, great air con and the latest Mission Impossible, in Spanish of course, played for most of the way. but when we got to Bosconia, that's when things began to dissolve. There is no bus station, just an insanely chaotic crossroads. Imagine donkey carts and gigantic Mac trucks and all manner of vehicle in between going every which way. The sidewalks on both sides in all directions lined with food stalls and shops.

We had information from the hotel in mompos that we would get another bus to Santa Ana from Bosconia. But if there was a bus there was no telling how we would find that. So we asked some people around how to get to Santa Ana, and they pointed us to go around the corner. Our mistake was in not asking for a BUS to Santa Ana. So we go around the corner, pay a guy who is selling tickets, or something, and he tells us to wait. We really thought we were paying for a bus ticket, but we should have knows by the outrageous price, that we were paying for a car. Lots of people were paying him to arrange rides in cars, so it's not like he was just anyone. So we waited for two hours in the god awful place that is Bosconia for a ride. We didn't eat because we didn't have any earthly idea when the damn car would be there so we just waited and waited.

We didn't even know if this whole thing was going to work out. We have never traveled this far off the grid before. Sure we do some crazy stuff, but we have the info in a lonley planet book to guide us. Here, not so much.

The car comes, and it's a piece of crap like the one that brought us up to Minca, which for that journey it was entertaining. Not this time.

So this ride to Santa Ana. This very expensive ride to Santa Ana was nearly 3 hours long. It's now 2 pm, we haven't eaten and it's hotter than an oven. We don't want to stop because we are in the middle of nowhere and we know we need to get to mompos before dark. Oh, did I mention that mompos is bordered by 2 unabridged rivers? There were a lot of unknowns ant this journey so we had to just keep going.

The first hour of the trip to Santa Ana is on a paved road and is pretty straight forward. But when we turn off on the road to Santa Ana we realize we are in for it. For the next 2 hours we bump along on an unpaved dusty hot road. There's no air con in this car, so we have the windows open. It's so dusty and hot that there the dust is billowing through the vents and into our faces. We can barely breathe. We have run out of water and our mouths feel like paste. The driver keeps looking out his window at the tires which makes my mind run wild. I feel pretty sure we are going to be stuck here begging for shelter from people who live in shacks. I know we are all secretly wondering why we are calling this a vacation.

We drive through herds of grazing cows and pass a moto or two. One time we even pass a bus, but thankfully the kids say they are glad to be in a car and not the bus that is pitching forward, back, and side to side.

Another feature of the rust bucket we are in is that every time we hit a pot hole, which is every 2 minutes, the car bottoms out and the back seat thinks on the ground,more at least it feels like the seats are hitting the ground. It's so uncomfortable I can't believe it. Jack said he is imagining a cartoon like demise for our little car, where the wheels fall off, the doors break open, and the roof peels back like a can of sardines.

We arrive is Santa Ana, hot, dry, and starved. Our driver has no idea where to take us to find a boat to mompos. And neither do we. So he let's us out in the center of the town, near the police station. I am just about to go over there and try to get so information from the police when a moto taxi driver appears who will take us to the boat for mompos. How long will it take? An hour he says. WTF? For whatever reason we thought that we'd get a boat from Santa Ana and it would be a nice little boat ride over to mompos.

There's no map of the area, not even a google map,that could get an image of this area, it's so small. We are now all day without food, it's getting dark, and we have no idea where in the hell we really are or how long it will actually take to get to freakin mompos so we are, as usual,at the mercy of this moto taxi driver. I detest being at the mercy of taxi drivers, and have been ripped off by taxi drivers all over the world. However, they are the only means of getting to where we need to go and we have to take his price because he can sense that we a in no place to bargain. At this pint in my day I have lost all sensibility and ability to make decisions and I don't really give a crap as long me and my children are in a safe place to sleep by the time the sun sets. The longer we try to bargain with the guy the farther away I am from achieving this goal.

I haven't mentioned the kids because at this point they are mute and following along because I think they realize the gravity of the situation. They are too exhausted to complain or be worried.

The moto taxi is a motorcycle with a covered seating area attached. It uncomfortably fits the four of us. We drive down to the river to wait for the barge thingy that will cross the group of motos, people, and bikes that are already waiting. This barge thing looks like planks of wood strapped to three canoes, with a little lawn mower sized engine powering it across the river. It's so ridiculous that we all crack a smile and take the first pictures of this trip. I assure you we were not having fun. Well that's not entirely true. The kids were delighted to be riding in this thing and thought it was pretty awesome. I would have felt better about everything if I knew for sure where we were going, but I didn't and that scared me. The situation felt so out of my control that I couldn't even go there. Panic was overshadowed by hunger and thirst so that's probably a good thing.

So we take the 2 minute river crossing, and the moto taxi proceeds to drive us the hour to mompos. Again, on an unpaved, pot holed road. At this point
luis is so agitated that he isn't speaking, he only let's out a growl now and then.

The ride to mompos is blessedly uneventful, and we do finally arrive at La Casa Amarilla 11 hours after we started, completely bonkers with hunger and thirst, and having spent significantly more money than we should have getting here. We check in, shower the dirt off, and wander around the quiet colonial town looking for something to eat. We spend the entire next day recovering from the trip hoping that food, candy, netflix, and rest will give us a new outlook so we can start to enjoy the trip again.

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