On our way from Cartagena we decided to do a little (ok, long) detour to the lovely town of Santa Cruz de Mompós. Also known as Mompox, it has a smalltown feel (although there are 60 000 inhabitants), a beautiful cemetery and very, very hot climate.
Mompox lies alongside Rio Magdalena and to get to Mompox we first did a 6-hour bustrip from Cartagena to Magangue, then a break before the bus drove onto a fleet that was pushed upriver to La Bodega, and from there another hour drive to Mompox.
The thing about Mompox is that it feels like a town that doesn’t depend on tourists, thus you don’t get hassled by people wanting to sell you stuff, like so many other places we’ve visited. We met a lot of people that genuinely just wanted to talk to us and some even practiced their English on us (even the dogs seemed friendly here!).
Although it is in the Lonely Planet as one of the top 10 i Colombia, it felt a bit off the beaten track (dare we say “hidden gem”?), probably because it takes some effort to get there and it is really hot in the day. We stayed at Casa Amarilla (the yellow house), which is a lovely place – although the staff was a bit hard to find at times.
We spent our 24 hours there walking around looking at the town, and we got to see a procession from the church next to our hostel, in preparation of Semana Santa in a couple of weeks. They had a float with the Christ carrying his cross, and stopped at different paintings, that were placed on tables lining the streets, to recall a story (is our interpretation). The whole procession must have taken hours, we only watched one block of it.
The cemetery in Mompox is really lovely, especially at dusk. We are not usually cemetery-lovers (nor, ruin lovers or museum lovers), but it just felt magical. There was also an insane amount of cats at the cemetery, very cute (and also not so cute) kittens everywhere! We even went back the next morning to see it at dawn and walk around the rest of the town when it still wasn’t too hot.
As for food we found a couple small restaurants by the riverfront, and sat down at one that, interestingly, served turtle stew (we chose the less adventurous chicken and pork). It was very rustic, but served very good coconut rice and a half liter (in a measuring cup) of fresh juice. At night we had a very good, and a bit expensive, pizza at restaurant El Fuerte, which is run by an Italian that cooks his pizzas in a stone oven he has made himself, alongside all his home-made furniture. He didn’t have any menu, he just asked us what we didn’t like and proceeded to cook a “pizza symphony” for us. Very yummy indeed! We also had some great coffee at “Star Coffe” by the Iglesia Santo Domingo.
Some other interesting things we noticed in and around Mompox was the complete lack of traffic safety (we’re talking 5 people on one MC and no-one is wearing helmets) and their less than environmentally friendly way of throwing away garbage. It is normal to just throw whatever out the window of the car that you don’t need/want, resulting in the highways and surrounding nature looking like a big trash-pile. These things aren’t special for Mompox, but it seems that they are more normal on the countryside than in the big cities.
Our short stop in Mompox was absolutely worth it, we recommend it to anyone who wants to see something different and experience Colombia outside the typical tourist track!
More photos from Mompox and our travels in Colombia can be found here.