We were on a river cruise that started with a twenty minute motorcyle cart taxi ride from our hostal in Mompox. A hike down a steep bank led to a long, narrow, metal boat . Rebar was shaped into braces for a bimini made of drapery fabric. After a few false starts our driver got the outboard running. I noticed a lack of life jackets or oars, but the river was so shallow I figured we would be OK. There are two seasons in Colombia, rainy and dry and we are at the end of the dry season, so the river was quite low. We scooted down the river for about ten minutes before pulling over and climbing up the opposte bank into a little banana farm, with a tiny house surrounded by colorful flowers. I had no idea what had happened to my 3 hour river cruise so I just followed along.
After a short wait, the boat driver hitched up a donkey cart and we all piled on. Our cart bounced along slowly down a dusty road. Tiny cement block houses with dirt yards and outdoor kitchens sporting a single water spiget were scattered here and there. Quite a few had satellite dishes. It was a 45 minute ride but the countryside was beautiful and although it was boiling hot it was a glorious day and who knew what would happen next?
Eventually we came to a spot where another boat was waiting. A couple of young men were busy digging the wooden seat planks out of the bushes and fitting them in the boat. The donkey was left to graze and we all climbed aboard the boat. This outboard was no better and we had a bit of a wait until a fellow on a motorcycle showed up with tools. Meanwhile we were entertained by a handsome little boy who was playing with a baby croc. A few of us summoned the courage to hold it and I will say he was actually quite soft.
Finally, the motor started and we took off. It would run for 10 minutes and quit, I suspect bad gas, but he always managed to get it running again. We enjoyed a lovely ride, so many birds, egrets, comorants, even a few aguila eagles and many, many more I couldn't identify. Far more birds than I had seen in the Florida Everglades.
We came to an area choked with water lilies and full of birds. As I was looking around I saw water lillies being flung into the sky. I'm thinking what kind of bird could do that when I noticed 3 human heads! Young men were standing in the water up to their armpits clearing a path for us! All I could think of was the baby croc, but they were grinning.
At one point we stopped to have a swim. Only one young man was brave enough, but he seemed to have a good time. All too soon it was time to head back to the waiting donkey. This time we pawned off two of our passengers to a motorcycle so our donkey was able to trot. It was a bouncy ride!
As we passed the tiny settlement we happened upon a parade of sorts. A whole pack of young people running in front of a gaily decorated beat up pick up truck with a few beautiful girls in costumes. It was their Carnaval parade! Little kids with painted faces chased our cart, laughing and grinning. Those kids were fast, but the littlest guy, perhaps 3, naked but for a pair of crocs couldn't keep up and eventually stopped to cry. Another bunch of kids were dancing in the road, and one dancing atop a tree stump. Everyone was having a grand time, waving to us and laughing. It was great fun that we would have missed if the river was running strong.
Our little river cruise, including roundtrip transportation from the hostal was $9 each.