Mompox: Town of a 1000 churches and scorching heat
Trip Start Jan 01, 2006
8Trip End Ongoing
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I promise that very few times in my life I had felt so much heat.... in fact, I don't think I had ever experienced it anywhere... From around 9 30 in the morning to more or less 4 in the afternoon, you cannot walk without feeling the unforgiving weight of the sun upon you, like a sack of salt on your back. Should you step one meter into the sunlight, you can expect to be drenched in sweat in less that a couple of minutes.
And even though you constantly shower yourself with the water bottle you carry, in just a couple of seconds your hair, your face and your throat are completely dry once again. What makes this town such living hell weatherwise but one of the most stunning places in Colombia?
First, it's location doesn't help much at all... Just before the town, the river divides itself into two branches and then comes back together right after, forming a small island where Mompox lies... So, you can add the factors... sea level, river, tropical temperature, the lowlands that make up the area and humidity. Result: it is paradise for mosquitoes!!
What else makes it so special? Well, Mompox was a very prosperous town in those times, which means that very rich people lived here. A lot of help was needed, so several towns where all the black servants lived appeared around... San Martín de Loba, San Jacinto, Palenque de San Basilio. Some, like Palenque, were towns of slaves that had run away (cimarrons) and in fact this town was the first place to declare independence from Spain, at least 50 years before the first colony formally did so. That mixture produced some of the most amazing folk expressions we have.
If you ever watch Francesco Rosi's film "Chronicle of a Death Foretold", based on García Márquez's novel, you will see some of those little corners of the town... Don't be dissuaded by the heat, the humidity or the bugs... some places are well worth the troubles and the difficulties.