_Easy morning in Magangue, and in the pm we move on to Mompox, where the Nieto family will gently host us. Chalupa (kind of boat) to Bodega, $4, 15 min. Taxi to Mompox, $8 each, 40min. On the boat we met this local guy and we took the taxi together. He told us a lot about this part of Colombia: they had two big floods in the past two years -climate change? - and the government is very slow in helping them. There's a lot of corruption and people are disilluded survivors. Mompox colonial core wasn't damaged but most of the villages around it were devastated.
Mompox is a Unesco site due to its colonial architecture and I guess to the peculiar atmosphere of being suspended in time. Everything goes slowly in this town laying by the river, people sits outside their front doors on their rocking chairs, but for Semana Santa there's a big celebration with processions basically every evening. The Nieto family welcomed us in their traditional colonial house along the river. It's a full house because also their son with 3 friends from Canada are there. It's going to be an interesting mix!
_I joined the early morning Bakti Yoga at Gambhira Ashram: singing mantras, playing drums, and reading Vedic books was nice. They made me lead mantras and read something from the Bhagavad Gita. I led the following yoga class as well. It was sad when we had to leave: these people are so nice and we felt like family but we had to move on. Our next destination is Mompox, where I have friends staying there for Semana Santa. Bus to Santa Marta, minivan to Baranquilla, lunch in a nasty comedor along the highway and car all the way to Magangue for $20, 3.5hrs. We really didn't expect to be able to get here today. We stay at Hotel Casa Dorada, decent,AC, wifi and private bath.$22.
Am Bakti Yoga with chanting and meditation, and then at 7am I led another yoga class. I love to share my yoga, especially here because they have so much to learn.
After breakfast our Seva was helping Krisna building the wall of the new cabana. I really hoped to have the chance of doing this. We built the wood frame first and then we filled it up with balls of mud that we made using the soil of the finca. Hard but fun work, and it was especially interesting for me as an architect. The cabanas at Gambhira follow the ancient techniques of the Tayrona Indians. They use only natural materials: wood and palm leaves for the roof, wood and mud for the walls. Round plan. The result is a fresh, ventilated space that embraces you with positive energy.
_Today at 7am I lead the yoga class at the Ashram on the grass. They were so impressed: "This is very professional!" "Well, I told you I'm a yoga teacher...". I'm happy I'll be helping them out with this.
After breakfast Robbert came up with the idea to do our Seva painting the dining table. I loved it. So we spent few hours on this project: I really miss doing projects like this. I painted the Maha Mantra in Sanskrit all around it, so relaxing. I also helped cooking and learn about new vegetarian meals. All the food is organic, some is grown in the finca, some close by. They have a composting program to use organic waste to produce nutritious soil for cultivation. They desiccate tasty bananas in the sun and they make their own delicious chocolate.
_At 4am we were waken up by the sound of the bell calling for Bakti Yoga. It wasn't too hard since we went to bed very early. Bakti yoga is basically chanting mantras dedicated to Krisna and reading the Bagavaghita and other Vedic texts. We had a fire ceremony as well and I was asked to sing the Trianbakam mantra, I loved it! : )
At 7am we had some Hatha Yoga led by one of the residents of the ashram. Honestly, it didn't feel good. He is not a teacher and he hasn't been trained either, but he has good intentions and maybe I can teach him something to improve his practice. 8.30am breakfast and then Seva, which means helping the Ashram out with different services. Our task was scrubbing the empty pool. Apparently despite the lack of water, they fill up and then empty the pool 3 times a month because they don't use chemicals. We have some doubts about this process but we are new so we just accept the task and we'll have time later for suggestions, like using the water for irrigation...
After lunch we went to Santa Martha with the whole group, first to their vegetarian restaurant called Govinda, and then around town singing 'Hare Krisna' and playing instruments. Completely new experience for us, it was fun but I don't necessarily need to do it again! After the nice sunset on the bay, I'm pretty tired and the way back to the Ashram was longer than I would have liked to. Tomorrow I won't wake up at 4am for Bakti yoga!!
_After saying goodbye to our trusted Pibe, we jumped on a taxi for $12 and went to Gambhira, an Eco Yoga village in El Curval, small town 30 min from Santa Marta. We'll be volunteering there for few days, doing some yoga and meditation in Nature, and possibly getting involved in their natural building program. $12 each, lodging and 3 meals included. Once there it was a little different from what we expected: there were basically no other guests there, a part for a couple of long term ones, and a total of 10 people including us, almost like a family. Only two of them slightly speak English, which means that I'll definitely improve my Spanish here! Also the ashram is more religious than we expected: they are Hare Krisna, and their practice and rituals are different from what I'm used at Ananda Ashram in NY. I'll learn a lot of new things! All the structures were built only with the natural techniques used in the native indian's tradition and I hope I'll have the chance to help them finishing two cabanas. Our lodging is a round cabana with mud walls, palm roof, and hard beds! There are mosquitos but we have nets over the beds and it's fresh and breezy at night. The delicious meals are completely vegetarian, only milk is allowed. They compost all organic material and use it as a natural fertilizer. The Finca is located on ancient Tayrona land, the Indian that used to inhabit the area before being all killed by the Spaniards. There are still their ceremonial rocks standing around, stone trails and a lot of pieces of their ceramics around... I guess they could have some archeological value but they are considered like normal stones!
A lot of interesting different things to understand and get used to.
_Finally nice breakfast with fruit, yogurt and granola. Today was dedicated to Internet and catching up. I also washed all my desert laundry, and hanged it all in the backyard in the sun: it's so nice to do laundry like this, I'm going to miss it back in NY. Tomorrow we want to go to this Eco- Yoga Center near Santa Martha called Gambhira and maybe spend few days volunteering there. It sounds really good, merging yoga, meditation, sustainability and natural buildings. They haven't replied yet, but we'll go anyway and just show up .
__At 4.30 am we were just awake when somebody in the darkness knocked at our door: "Are you ready?" "Mmhh.. but weren't we supposed to meet at 5am?" "It's ok, we'll wait for you" ...Therefore we started to pack all in a hurry, brushed our teeth while running around, and after 15min another jeep arrived: it was our real driver, who started arguing with the other that apparently saw our head lights on and tried to steal us from him... sneaky! Anyway we went with our guy and his comfy seats in the front, $7, 1.5hr drive through the desert back to Uribia, with coffee break in the middle of the cactus street, yes just like that. From there we took a $3 taxi to Manaure, a town with salinas, salt factories, 30 min away. It was supposed to be very impressive, with mountains of white salt, but they were only few meters high and with people working on it... disappointment... So we jumped on another taxi, $7, and went back to Rioacha, where we had breakfast and I had the chance to buy 2 beautiful mochillas - the Indian colorful bags - along the beach. A lot of 'a la orden' and a lot of bargaining. After an hour I was exhausted but satisfied of my shopping. Then bus terminal and a direct bus with AC and cheesy movies to Santa Martha. $8. They said it was going to take 2hrs but it took 4.5 hrs, maybe because every 45 min we had a police stop and a smelly food sellers invasion of our vehicle.
We arrived in Taganga before sunset anyway; our trusted Pibe was very happy to see us, our packs were still under the sink and everybody was happy!
_Breakfast and more cute puppies.
Walk to El Faro and Ojo De Agua, 1.5hrs along the coast with turbans. Nice.
El Faro is just an ugly lighthouse with nice views, nothing special apart from the desert-hilly landscape around it. Ojo de Agua 10 min away is a very nice beach instead with a small cliff behind. Today before leaving we reserved two motos - the only taxi here- to go back but with big surprise only one showed up... for both of us. Yes, at the same time. Apparently it's pretty normal here even on the sandy, hilly, rocky road back. This time I really worried...
Last langosta dinner at El Calamar: tomorrow we go back to Taganga.
_Am yoga in front of my cactus cabana followed by breakfast at El Calamar.
Wayuu women and girls walk around town all day with their face covered with black mud mixed with sheep escrements. It's for sun protection apparently. They sell mochilas - handmade cute colorful bags- and they are ready to say 'a la orden' - at your service- as soon as you slightly look at them or at their stuff. In theory it's a polite way to address you but when you hear it 100 time a day it can become annoying.
We decide to walk thru the desert to Pilon de Cerro, a sacred mountain on the ocean next to a beautiful beach. It took about 1.5hr and it wasn't too bad because of the constant breeze. We used our sarongs to cover our faces, no mask for us thanks. The landscape was fascinating: cactus, salt, short trees oriented in the direction of the wind, a lot of goats and lambs, and tiny daisies!
The view from the top of Pilon is breathtaking: kilometers of wild beaches and desert on one side, the gorgeous beach underneath, and the lake and desert behind with the town of Cabo in the distance, where we have to walk back! The return wasn't too bad, more hot but we were well covered with our turbans.
Back in town I almost bought a $300 8 hrs kite surf course... It looked so cool but I don't have time and I don't want to spend that much. Mid pm lunch with grilled lobsters at El Calamar was delicious. After asking around for two days about going to Punta Gallinas, we found that the $70 tour with Lindon was the best offer but the sea could be very rough and the 2.5 hrs on a small boat didnt sound good, so no Gallinas for us tomorrow.