Trip Start Mar 14, 2004
Trip End Ongoing

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The Tayrona sailboat

Flag of Colombia  ,
Monday, December 20, 2004

Finally, after 12 long days on a sailboat, I´ve arrived in South America!

In Panama City, I found a captain sailing to Colombia. The Panamerican highway, which otherwise connects Alaska to the tip of Argentina, meets its demise in the Darien Gap region between Panama and Colombia. Travel here is next to impossible as the area is infested with guerrillas and drug traffickers. The only sane options to South America are by plane or boat. I am on the Tarona, a 28 foot sailboat captained by a Swedish guy that has been wandering the globe for the last 12 years ... and that, I assume makes us Vikings of the Caribbean! I am looking forward to the typical behavior implored by Vikings such as sacking cities, pillaging villages, mutinies on the bounty, and making someone walk the plank. I will also be sure to eat plenty of fruit to get vitamin C, thus avoiding scurvy, the affliction that killed so many of Ferdinand Magellan´s men after many months at sea. There are six people total on the boat; Captain PeGe and his psycho girlfriend, and me and 3 Australians.

Day 1, Wed. Dec 8 -- We depart Colon Panama, an absolute hell hole, never go there ... for Portobello, a small, pleasant, Panamanian town with a sheltered cove to anchor the boat and spend the night. Sailing is fun.

Day 2, Thur. Dec 9 -- Explored the town but spent another night in Portobello due to high winds and seas.  

Day 3, Fri. Dec 10 -- Bad weather persists, another night anchored in Portobello. The Captain doesn't want to overstress the boat and risk breaking stuff.  This is getting annoying.

Day 4, Sat. Dec 11 -- Finally, we depart for the San Blas Islands, an archipelago of nearly 400 islands and home to the Kuna Indians. We arrive at an amazing spot among a few very small islands, the largest of which has only 8 straw huts. I have no idea how these people can survive like this. Pretty cool though.

Day 5, Sun. Dec 12 -- Things are starting to smell funky around here.  We pull anchor and head to our next anchorage nicknamed the "swimming pool".  A picture perfect postcard kind of place and a spectacular setting to park the sailboat for a good night's sleep.

Day 6, Mon. Dec 13 -- Spent the afternoon snorkeling the reef and fishing with a barely functional spear gun. It shoots so poorly, we had to just remove the spear and stab the crab that we caught .. a tasty snack! We had no chance at getting one of the many intimidating looking barracudas swimming all around us. High winds and seas have returned and caused more delays.

Day 7, Tues. Dec 14 -- With all the delays we´ve had, we now need to consider replenishing our food and water supply. We were supposed to be in Colombia by now. We are backtracking to a large Kuna island village with food stores and fresh water. On the way we caught a large fish on our only fishing lure ... he made for an excellent dinner.

Day 8, Wed. Dec 15 -- We resupplied the boat but we´re stuck here due to unfavorable winds and high seas; a familiar theme to our trip. Sailing sucks!  The Kuna Indians, however, are quite pleasant and lead very interesting lives.

Day 9, Thur. Dec 16 -- Still stuck at the island village. Drank cold beers with a couple Kuna Indians in their makeshift version of the Hardrock Cafe.

Day 10, Fri. Dec 17 -- Finally, we are sailing for South America. Day and night we sail.

Day 11, Sat. Dec 18 -- I hate sailboats.

Day 12, Sun. Dec 19 -- Still sailing ... did I mention I hate sailboats. We all smell.

Monday, Dec 20 -- Just after midnight, we arrived at the Yacht Club in Cartagena, Colombia. We will be off this damn boat first thing in the morning after the immigration guy processes our passports. The first few hours ashore were as unsettling as my first days at sea.  I couldn't walk in a straight line and I think I was dizzy for the first hour.  But one thng is for sure, I'm glad to be here!!!!!!
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