Sailing around the worlds most beautiful beaches..

Trip Start Jul 31, 2005
Trip End Sep 05, 2007

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Flag of Panama  ,
Monday, July 16, 2007

We left Panama City early in the morning in a minibus which was to drive us across to the coast. There are no buses on this route, so we travelled with some locals and two other backpackers in a small minibus, half way there we were all offloaded from the minibus and jumped into a 4wd - we can only be described as sardines! It was so cramped, the road (if it can be called a road) is a drive on pure mud, potholed the whole way. All of us in the jeep were thrown around the whole journey! Eventually we arrived in El Carti - this was the end of the unmade road of mud, we threw our packs on our backs and proceeded to slide (literally) in the mud down to the river where we needed to take what reminded us of the dugout canoes on the Okavango Delta in Botswana to the island of El Porvenir.
To cut a long story short we ended up waiting around for what felt like an age on a local village island to wait for another person who we were told was coming on our boat to Cartagena. Soon enough, after using the toilet which was a wooden shack perched on the side of the island and you stood over the hole and peed directly into the sea! we made a move on the boat to Porvenir. At first we could not locate the boat which we were all supposed to be sailing on, we tried every boat anchored around the small island, and then asked the immigration and they thought that he had already left! We decided as a group to head to the supermarket where some of them wanted to stock up on provisions and luckily enough, there we bumped into Guillermo - an Argentinian guy whose boat we were sailing to Colombia on.

We were six, Matt and I, an Aussie guy, a Swiss German girl, a German girl and her dog who yes, she had been backpacking in Central America with (Crazy?!) and the captain. The boat was very small, there were no cabins as such just beds in the corners and some pull out beds in the centre of the boat, outside there was no real seating area with a table, just what we all called the cockpit - it was quite cramped (the dog did not really help although he was cute!). We were told straight away that we were all to cook (the captain did not like cooking!), and that any pees were to be from the back of the boat, there was no ice and the fridge did not work so it was warm rum and beer all the way! water was limited so while we were in the San Blas any washing - including ourselves and dishes was to take place in the sea. I never thought I would see the day where I had my butt hoisted out the back of the boat for a pee - but soon enough it happened. All other toilet niceties were to take place in the small smelly toilet, which on our second to last day decided to flood all over my feet with you know what in it - nice - not!

The San Blas islands were beautiful, in fact there are no words to describe how stunning they actually are. White powdery sands, hoards of fish, including many starfish sitting up in the shallows of the water, there were small villages and locals on their wooden fishing boats plying the transparant waters. Palms swayed in the wind, coconuts were everywhere and the every so often a boat would come up to the side of our boat where a lady would try and sell a mola or two. (A mola is a speciality in the San Blas, hand embroidered patterns on cloth which the women wear on their clothes). San Blas is Panama, but it is in the remote region of Kuna Yala. The first language here is Kuna, the women dress in colourful traditional clothes and if you asked these people if they were from Panama, they would reply no and tell you they are from Kuna Yala.

Those few days in the San Blas we snorkelled and swam, strolled along the beach, ate fresh delicious barracuda, crab and lobster by night washed down with a warm rum and coke! Or Sangria which the girls started making. It was a beautiful but long exhausting trip but well worth it, a far better option that flying that is for sure!

The seas were relatively calm on the journey, and after chilling out for three nights in the islands we started our long non stop sail across the ocean to Cartagena.
Being in the middle of the sea with absolutley no land in sight and nothing else except from the stars visible was a strange feeling, the journey from the islands to Cartagena takes on average 48 hours - we must have been lucky as we rolled into Cartagena last night after 36 hours of non stop sailing.


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