[:en]Our love affair with the Northern coast had to eventually come to a close. After visiting the most Northern point on the continent, we headed south across the Guajira into the Upar Valley. We stayed in Valledupar for a couple of nights at our friend Claudio’s house, a great Colombian guy we met a few weeks back in Cartagena. His brother, Felix, showed us a few of the sights in the town, and took us for a dip in the Guatapuri river followed by some local food.
Getting to Mompos from Valledupar was as easy as calling a car service. A pickup truck picked us up at 4:00 AM that drove us the 300KM across the Mompos Depression, on a ferry across the Magdalena river and into the charming city of Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s dreams.
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I used to be quite active on Twitter a few years back and I cyber-met a Brit who, at the time, was working as a journalist in Bogota. I never actually had the chance to buy him a pint, but I knew that he had opened a hostel in Mompos. I looked him up again and that’s how we ended up at Hotel Casa Amarilla, a charming colonial housed that has been beautifully outfitted as a hotel. One of the main features of the house, like many others in the region, is a massive courtyard in the center ofthe complex with all the rooms surrounding it. The hotel also has two terraces with beautiful views of the church tower, where coffee and/or wine should be had at sunset. The always necessary hammocks (for afternoon naps of course) were part of the decoration as well.

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On our first outing in Mompos, we fell in love with the charming town. The white facades alongside the lazy yet powerful river that once made Mompos one of the most important port cities in the newly discovered world give the city a very relaxed feel. The tiny streets with flower-adorned window sills where lazy cats like to lounge complete the setting. Exploring the historical core, we found a handful of cafes and restaurants for almost every budget. A little stray puppy became our loyal friend and went everywhere with us, she would joyfully see us half a block down the road and run to meet us. We fed her a couple of times and felt our heart break as we left her for the last time. We spent the (really) hot parts of the day hiding in our hotel room and mornings/afternoons exploring the antique streets and plazas.

The town, with an ageless charm, is definitely one of those places to be inspired about love and life. It’s a shame that it’s not part of guide books because, personally, I feel it holds a lot of the Colombian history in it’s streets and it’s people. It’s a testament of a time of opulence and wealth brought by a river that now quietly flows around it and only serves as transport for the few travelers that grace it’s cobblestone streets. A river that, in many of Marquez’s books, was just as important as the politicians, lovers and gentlemen in his stories. Though it no longer brings the wealth and bounty that it used to the river is still a necessity since the city is a freshwater island, it was clear we needed to use it to leave the area.

We hired another car to take us to El Banco, 70KM east of Mompos. From El Banco, we hoped on a speed boat or chalupa heading south to Barrancabermeja, roughly 400KM south. The vastness of Colombia’s most important river panned out in front of us, showing us impressive mountain formations and fertile flatlands as we went. Small docks along the river served as breaking spots for the journey as it was definitely not the most comfortable ride, though an unboutable necessity. 8 hours later, we reached Barranca and from here, we hoped on a bus for a few more hours.

Originally, the plan was to reach Barichara in one day but as the day drew to a close, the plan had to be altered and we spent the night in Bucaramanga, which is definitely not a bad spot to hang for a few hours.

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