After spending three weeks with our friends at the busiest time of year in the most popular places in Colombia, we were ready to enjoy down time somewhere quiet. Mompox could not have been more perfect! We slipped right into a daily routine and by the time we left, we felt like real Momposinos.
(Spoiler alert: We loved it so much we made a Detour Guide, skip to it by clicking here and planning your own trip to Mompox!!)
Each morning we would take our time getting up and then go for a smoothie and a coffee at the Plaza de Bolivar where many people like to gather – to buy lottery tickets, get their shoes shined or catch up with fellow Momposinos. The remainder of our days were filled with blog-related work, the odd siesta, and wandering the beautiful streets of this old city. In this case, rather than referring to a neighbourhood as the “old city” (like in Panama City or Cartagena), we are actually referring to all of Mompox which is an old city that played a big part in Colombia’s history: it’s on an island in the Magdalena River which used to be a main artery to Cartagena. Most of the gold and treasure plundered by the Spanish would be held in Mompox before being shipped back to Spain. This made Mompox a rich and prosperous city full of eloquent cathedrals and sprawling colonial mansions. The prosperity didn’t last forever though. In the 1800’s the Magdalena River filled with silt and large ships could no longer make the journey, so business moved elsewhere. Mompox basically froze in time and today much of the city looks as it did 150 years ago.
Now Mompox is a UNESCO World Heritage site. The central core of town is all whitewashed buildings, with a cathedral on almost every corner, along narrow cobble stone streets.
The town is stunning but the architecture surprisingly wasn’t our favourite part. As is usually the case, the people were amazing. The woman, Dona Norma, who ran our clean and friendly hostel (Hostal Majestic Plaza) was delightful along with the rest of the staff; the girl who made our morning smoothies always served us with a smile; Yonni, a local boat owner who offers tours of the river, always had something funny to say that usually made the girls blush (by our fifth day in town Yonni said we had officially become Momposinos – a true compliment); the women at Cerro Maco Cafe made consistently great coffee and joked around with us like we were old friends after just a couple of days; the servers at Jhon’s Grill (a lunch-time restaurant by the river) were extremely polite and constantly apologized for that one time a drunk old guy wouldn’t leave us alone during our meal. Momposinos are genuinely the nicest people we have met so far in Latin America. Not only did they make us feel welcome, but they made us feel like Mompox was our home.
While we travel around the world, our goal isn’t to check off bucket list items or world wonders, it’s to experience the true culture of the places we go. Some people have told us the heart of Colombia is in Tayrona National Park, others have said it’s in Cali…We are only half way through our time in Colombia but so far we found the heart of this great country right here in little ol’ Mompox.
If you’re travelling to Colombia, we encourage you to make time for even just a couple of days in this town to see it’s beauty both on the inside and out. We’re here to help you make the most of it with our Detour Guide to Mompox below.