The Rio Magdalena is the longest river in Colombia. This river supports thousands of villages through fishing and agriculture. It produces hydroelectric power for many Colombians. It is navigable in many places. And we needed to use this river to access the destination of Mompox.
We waited on the side of a dusty road with the delivery trucks and carloads of families. Then the ferry arrived and carefully loaded us all on board.
Once we were all on board the drivers exited their vehicles and began to stroll around the ship. Most of them ended up at the front of the ferry, leaning on the hood of our truck!
The men who load and unload these ferries work hard, work fast and do a lot of yelling all day long. This little movie shows a tiny clip of the experience that is repeated every two hours, all day long.
We were bored after a bit, so we took a selfie and a few photos out the windows. It was a smooth and interesting ride up the Rio Magdalena towards Mompox.
But, when we arrived to the offload point we still had almost an hour of driving to do. That would mean driving after dark, one of our firm rules. So we asked the local police to show us a parking area where we could spend the night. We arrived well after dark and settled in for the night. The next morning we met the lovely family that had hosted us in their secure, walled yard!
After slowhouse tours, meeting the pigs, taking a lot of photos and sharing mangos for breakfast, we departed for our destination. We encountered one typical delay……. a small herd of cattle being directed across the highway.
Then we arrived at Mompox, famed for its colonial beauty and unique churches placed along the banks of the Rio Magdalena. And in case you miss the detail in that photo, here is a close-up of dad and the kids, riding on the motorcycle! Colombian carpool style! The streets were very narrow and we didn’t find a lot of options for parking. So we stopped at a hotel that was marked on iOverlander. We carefully squeezed the truck camper into the central courtyard and parking area of the hotel. As the only guests there, it didn’t seem to bother anyone.
Then we walked all around the little city. This street sign made us laugh, as a cute way to remind drivers that open containers are not allowed in vehicles in Colombia.
We found three incredibly beautiful churches. All painted in yellow and white. The first two smaller ones didn’t have much information.
The large, main church of Mompox had an interesting description sign. It was filled with parishioners when we arrived. But you can see the beauty of the facade and read about the symbolism represented there. It is also known for the unique bell tower with a walkway around it and the gargoyles on it. And yes, the church looks this crooked when viewed in person! Another notable site in the town of Mompox is the cemetery. It is recognized and revered for its beauty and efficiency in handling so many “residents” and it is celebrated during local festivities. We were able to capture a video of it during a nighttime celebration, and again during the day for contrast.
We walked through during the day with Nica and looked at some of the stacks (some holding up to 8 people) dates, the art and the decorations. We found one crypt that was recently filled, and is decorated with streamers, balloons and gifts for the deceased.
Later in town we walked along the riverwalk (Rio Magdalena) and found a humorous window dog during our walk. This dog reminds me of a childhood pet named Blaze.
Leaving Mompox led us to explore the Central Magdalena area of Colombia. Most of this region is hot, humid, lowlands. We spent one night at a gas station with these oil rigs as our silent neighbor through the night. The next night we camped on the street near the central plaza of a small village. Shortly after getting settled the French family that had been on our boat from Panama arrived and parked with us for the night. This was a cute little central plaza, with a color coordinated ice cream stand set up awaiting the nightly rush of customers. The next morning we encountered a local traffic jam on our way out of town. This one is hauling sand in each of those boxes! Our next night was at a slightly higher elevation on a different river. We found a shady spot under a large tree and camped with the river bubbling loudly nearby. Then we walked in to town to grab some dinner. On the table nearby was a HUGE jar of hot stuff. It seemed to contain peppers, carrots, onions, vinegar and perhaps yuca. We were invited to use it on our dinners, but after they cautioned us that it is very hot, neither of us felt brave enough to try.
After a night on the river we were pointed toward higher elevations and cooler climates. The diversity of Colombia continues to wow us as we explore. I am hopeful that you can see this beautiful panorama on your screen and that it looks as beautiful as it did to our eyes!
Thanks for following along with us as we explore this wonderful country. Please remember that you can contact us easily. Send questions, send suggestions, send links to cool videos or stories that we need to see. We welcome your communication and travel tips from where ever you are!