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T he boat zooms down the Magdalena river, water flicking up as we whiz round marshy bends, and I feel like I am travelling through a forgotten land. We pass tiny villages, where children play and women wash clothes on the shore.
Fishermen in dugout canoes drift past; birds swoop down to the river surface. It takes a bumpy six hours in a van, from the historic city of Cartagena on the Caribbean coast, followed by a two-hour boat ride, to enter this colonial time warp, but the trip is definitely worth it.
Old auto rickshaws are the only form of public transport. There are no taxis, and very few cars. It was also here, on 6 August , that Colombia's independence from Spain was declared. It was also the location of a royal mint, where rich merchants deposited vast quantities of valuables, safe from the Caribbean pirates.
The banks of the river would have been packed with large boats, and the streets full of workers transporting tobacco, precious metals, contraband, and slaves. It is hard to imagine that this sleepy place was once the third most important city in Colombia. Time may have passed Mompos by, but its beautiful colonial architecture has been preserved and the atmosphere on the streets is tranquil.
There is not much to do and that's part of the charm. Just strolling the cobbled streets and soaking up local life should be rewarding enough for any traveller.