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Totumo Mud Bath Photos

Tuesday, December 03, 2013

The first photos is of my mini hostess, Estefania; the second on the rickety ladder; third, in the mud bath; fourth, My host in front of the Volcano.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

KAYYVAUGHN 12/6/2013 4:57AM

    I agree with Judy. It looks interesting. However it's not for me.

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UUCEEJAY 12/4/2013 8:47AM

    Oh my! Was it nice and warm in there? In the hair and all! emoticon

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GARDENCHRIS 12/4/2013 6:51AM

    and the point is ?!?!? lol why??

Comment edited on: 12/4/2013 6:52:12 AM

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LADYRH 12/4/2013 6:24AM

    Thanks for sharing Ruth, looks like and interesting time.

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JUDY1676 12/3/2013 8:52PM

    That must have been quite an experience!

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ZEEDRA 12/3/2013 6:27PM

    That really IS a mud bath!!!! Are you in any of the pictures? Couldn't understand what you said after first picture....

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Saturday, November 30, 2013

On Saturday my host and his daughter took me to the mud volcano of Totumo about 50 miles outside of Cartagena. Driving along the turnpike Highway 90 in Northern Colombia we passed rich fields with views of the ocean and rolling hills with cattle grazing. A prettier drive could not exist, so I was somewhat unprepared for the "Volcano."

We turned off the main road and headed down toward a cienaga, and there at its side stood this 15 m (49 feet) high mound of gray gunk with dug out stairs

We paid our $5000 peso admission (about $2.50) and climbed the man made rickety stairs to its peak. About 30 people were waiting at its summit to climb down some rickety ladder and submerge themselves in this small pool of unctuous thick gray mud.

Local legend has it that the natives thought that the volcano was the work of the devil, but when a local priest threw holy water into it it turned into a benign mud bath. Since that time tourists have been flocking to the pool to take advantage of its so-called therapeutic benefits. Once in the pool of mud you float, it being so thick that it is impossible to sink.
Your body is covered with gray ooze and you are floated across the pool where two or three men with baseball caps rub this slurry across your body, supposedly massaging it into your skin. The younger and prettier the bodies, the more time is spent massaging.
You can then attempt to stand in the mud and rub the mud all over your body, face and through your hair. Most people spend 15 to 20 minutes in the mud pit before deciding that they have gotten all they can get out of the mud volcano experience.

Upon ascending another slippery ladder you are met on an open grid by another man who rubs your body down to rid it of excess mud, then you are sent down the hill and down to a cove in the cienaga where women with plastic basins douse you with murky water to remove the mud. Once "clean" you head back to your cars, stopping perhaps for a drink, a snack or a souvenir.

I rather doubted that such a small mound could be a real "volcano," but after investigating it I found that 700 known mud volcanoes exist on the earth. They are usually connected to some under ocean volcanic vent. Those that exist in Yellowstone are known as mud pots, for they have none of the true volcano formation. Totumo is the most famous in Colombia.

The true treat of the day was turning off the highway and stopping at an ocean-side palapa for a lunch of fresh fried fish and a beer, then slipping into the ocean for a really rich cleanse in the welcoming warm waters of the Caribbean coast.

My age spots and wrinkles have not been removed, my hair is no more manageable and I have not lost weight by the visit to the volcano, but it was a muddy good time.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

KAYYVAUGHN 12/2/2013 5:01AM

    That is an interesting experience. Only you would do that. Maybe in time your wrinkles will go away if you have any.

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LADYRH 12/1/2013 4:39AM

    Very interesting blog Ruth, your blogs are always a delight to read.

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GRANJERRY 11/30/2013 11:48PM

    That's an amazingly descriptive post. Loved reading about it and your adventure there. Stay blessed

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The Art of Bargaining

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Nothing has a set price.

This is the first thing you must learn in a third world country. The art of bargaining is a must, and for many North Americans who only bargain for a house or a car, and who find that quite disagreeable, bargaining for just about everything seems like a waste of time, and and an imposition. After all, everything has its fair price.

Even we, as North Americans bargain, although we may not think of it that way. When we go to the store with better or lesser prices, be it groceries or electronics, we are bargaining with our purses.

But to the micro-merchant, the guy selling on the street, with no overhead of rent, utilities or for that matter, bookkeeping, what is a fair price is what he can get by good bargaining. Making the equivalent of 50 cents or one dollar on a item is extra food on the table or a beer from the corner store.

For the astute buyer it may mean the difference between paying the rent or coming up short this month. To be a good buyer you have to be a good bargainer.

I don't know when this love of bargaining came to me. I don't think I had ever done it before I moved to Mexico. But certain things were always bargained for, be they artensanias, food at mercados or necessities for the house.

The basic formula is when you are interested in an article you ask "How Much?" and the merchant will give you a price double of what he expects. Then you begin bargaining from the bottom, while he bargains from the top price. Eventually you end up at the fair price, what he must charge in order to make a profit. If you don't like the price, you walk away, at which point the merchant will come back with a lower price if he really wants the sale.

It is a song and dance between cat and mouse, but one which is expected in third world countries. The tourist who pays the price asked is thought of as a chump, an idiot, and this gives North Americans (and Europeans and Canadians) a reputation of being rich fools.

If you want to get the lowest price you must go to the street merchant, but this is fraught with danger, for if the product is defective you have no recourse to return it...receipts are never given. Bargaining at shops can be done, but usually the shop salesmen don't have the authority to lower the price more that 3 to 5 percent. Some shop girls must take the customer to the manager who has NO, NEVER written all over her face.

There is nothing that makes a buyer feel prouder than getting a good bargain, and there is nothing that makes a good salesman prouder than getting a good price. You have, after all, just been in the creative art of bargaining.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

UUCEEJAY 12/4/2013 8:54AM

    I don't think I would do well with this. I really hate the whole process of trying to get the best deal on something. I do like garage sales, but usually don't bargain though I have seen a lot of others do that.

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KAYYVAUGHN 11/25/2013 5:41PM

    Bargaining sounds good to me. Sometimes I do it in antique or junk stores.

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CHINAGAL 11/25/2013 9:53AM

    I'm one of those who is very uncomfortable with the process. I think you have to be born with a knack for it to be really successful.

I've enjoyed reading your blogs about Mexico.

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EVIE4NOW 11/24/2013 2:30PM

  A reason I love garage sales.

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PICKIE98 11/24/2013 2:21PM

    My fondest memories of Mexico City are at the San Juan Market bargaining with every merchant,, I was 17 years old and was and still am very cheap.. They were shocked that I would get the prices I wanted.. I still have every single thing I bought there 44 years ago..
The other countries I visited were the same.. I loved it!!
Don't kid yourself:I got a $179/nt. hotel room in Mackinac City,MI for $49 by telling them that it could sit empty like their till or I could pay them to use it. They took it.. Off season stuff can be had if you want it enough...

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Cultural Differences

Friday, November 22, 2013

Cultural differences can lead to misunderstandings. Ask me, I know.

Yesterday I went into the kitchen to prepare oatmeal for breakfast. The Senora was there heating milk for my coffee. When I told her I wanted some "avena" and I would make it in a small pot with just water, she looked horrified. " Just with water?" she asked. At which point she sent her son to the corner store to bring back some cinnamon bark, added more milk to that heating up on the stove, threw in the package of cinnamon, and half a bag of oatmeal. She would not have me making oatmeal with just water.

The cultural difference here is that in Colombia oatmeal is a cold drink made with milk and cinnamon, stirred and blended and served over ice. In the US oatmeal is hot cereal.

I failed to tell her that I wanted cereal, and she assumed that I wanted a cold drink that would take a good half hour to prepare.

"Poor children at the Sta. Rita," she chided me. "You have to explain everything." making a remark that the children at the day care must suffer because I do not explain.

It was a good lesson to learn, to not assume that my simple desire for cereal did not translate into what her culture had taught her to assume about oatmeal.

But I will say this, when the drink was served it was simply delicious! And now I have a good recipe for a refreshing oatmeal drink.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

ZEEDRA 11/23/2013 11:07AM

    Oatmeal drink? I'll pass.
When in Rome...

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LADYRH 11/23/2013 5:38AM

    Ruth drinks sounds interesting, share when you get back.

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SLACHETKA103145 11/22/2013 3:48PM

    You have to stay on your toes, but to me it is great to learn culture other than your own!

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KAYYVAUGHN 11/22/2013 3:40PM

    You learn something everyday. We need to learn from you.

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FIRECOM 11/22/2013 3:01PM

    Loved this. If someone thinks that communications is easy, just tell them to travel.

I was in Spain several years ago and asked for a martini. Lots of ???? followed. I thought I finally got the message across and was served a glass of vermouth. Yuk.

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The Phone "Booth."

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Okay, the day of the phone booth has passed. Clark Kent will have to find another place to disrobe, and most of the world has found that cell phones, even in remote areas are the order of the day. But in many third world countries, some people are so poor that having a cell phone (the cheapest phone is $25, and unlimited service is about $12 per month) is not a possibility.

So up springs a new micro business, corner cell phones. No booths, just a wooden table with a sign, and someone to collect the fees. Just about every corner or block in Cartagena has a micro business that sells cell phone time for 100 pesos a minute. (That's about 5 US cents per minute). You pick the carrier, Claro, Tigo, Movie Star depending on the cell phone you want to call. Unlike in the US you cannot call between house phones or one cell company and another, so you must know the number and the carrier of the phone you want to call.

So if you need to change clothes better duck in a store, the cell phone table is not a good place for stashing street clothes or hiding your identity. But it is a great place and price for staying connected!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

MOOKBALL 11/21/2013 2:00PM


I think the first three numbers of the phone number indicate the carrier: for example, 300 is Movistar, 312 is Tigo and 314 is Claro. So if you know the number you can ask for the correct carrier's cell phone to make the call.

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UUCEEJAY 11/21/2013 10:48AM

    That sounds pretty confusing to have to know the cell phone company of the person you want to call. At one point in my life, I had an apartment next to a college library and decided not to have a phone. I would set up a time for my parents to call me on the pay phone at the college. Do they arrange for incoming calls as well as outgoing? What if neither person has a phone and want to talk with each other by phone?

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--KREN 11/20/2013 6:14AM

    Some place in very rural Wyoming there is an X in a circle marked in the parking lot of the feed store. This is the "phone booth" and it may exist in other far out mountainous rural locations. It means that in this one spot, you can get cell phone reception! lol


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LADYRH 11/20/2013 5:50AM

    Thanks for sharing Ruth, this was interesting info emoticon

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SLACHETKA103145 11/20/2013 5:29AM

    What we had and now is no more....but on the bright side we can keep our "remember when"

emoticon emoticon emoticon

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GABY1948 11/20/2013 5:13AM

    Loved this! Superman I am not...isn't it bizarre what the world is coming to for a dollar?

Have a great day!

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ZEEDRA 11/19/2013 10:23PM

    So...I couldn't change under the table?

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