Getting to Santa Cruz de Mompox from Cartagena yesterday was quite an adventure.
People in Cartagena were very sure that in Marangue there was going to be a bridge connecting the various lands across the Magdalena river…and that going to Mompox, passing from Marangue was the quickest route by car.
Turned out, once in Marangue, that there’s no bridge, or the bridge is unfinished or it hasn’t been inaugurated yet. Once there, there was no other way for me than to turn around, drive back to Carmen de Bolivar (the additional two hours I could have spared myself) and keep driving to Plato and finally reaching Mompox (10 hours later).
Mompox at 8pm was hiding in the dark already, and there wasn’t much to discover (or uncover) yet…besides finding out how few tourists there were and how empty and quiet the pretty streets are. I could see the river, or I could sense where it had to be but I wouldn’t look much into that direction, afraid of spotting something disturbing coming out of the dark, or just crocodiles, you never know.
I loved to see the locals outside their houses on the sidewalk or by the street, just chatting with their families or neighbours in their wooden rocking chairs…
I went to La Casa de Amy, this little cafe in the street that goes into Plaza de la Concepcion, and with a glass of sparkling sangria in one hand, I also rocked my self away in the rocking chair…
The town is 500 years old and most colonial houses are not only very well preserved, but still used for their original purpose, workshops or stores or anything in between, making you a privileged observer of some real-local life.
Then this morning it happened:I fell in love with Mompox or Mompós and promised myself to never never forget it.
Things I won’t forget: the riverside promenade with the tall bamboos and the big mango trees and tamarind trees, the bird calling and chasing each others in the tick vegetation, the iguana hiding in the branches, the birds fishing in the river…the river, moving, slowly but incessantly and carrying away everything and anything, the colonial houses, the feeling of solitude.
I went to Mompox to chase some Gabriel Garcia Marquez vibes and found a place that is precisely nostalgically romantic, like an old rocking chair that belonged to your grandmother.
I strolled the river bank, dozens of times, it reminded me of the beloved Mekong river passing through Luang Prabang, in the spot where my hostel was and the fearful bamboo bridge stood…I took pictures of the water and of the line of colonial houses too, I have a shot of them in almost every light of the day and night.
The two main squares, the Santo Domingo and the Concepcion, have the opposite age-demographics, the first one is loud and lively and packed with kids in scooter, the second is for quiet wanders or for sit-down meals at the restaurant on each of the corners.
Mompos has a nice local bakery, Panaderia Central, but in terms of food, there’s no remarkable restaurant to be named. Only the arepas at my hostel, Sol de Agua were extraordinary and especially nibbling and sipping a cold drink on one of their riverside tables made for a very happy time where I felt I was being present and grateful.