Crossing to South America
Trip Start Jul 21, 2009
147Trip End Apr 28, 2010
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We left the hostel in Panama City sometime after our planned time of 5 am, and piled into two large 4x4 vans for the drive to Carti, on the Atlantic coast. On our boat, along with John and I, was a group of 6 guys, from Ireland and England. The drive was fairly uneventful, although the roads towards the end were impressively muddy and steep. Eventually, we ended up being dropped off at a river, which was a bit of a surprise -- we had expected to be dropped of at our sailboat, in the ocean. Oh well... we hopped in a launcha and traveled down river a bit, where we met a second deeper and narrower launcha, that took us the rest of the way down the river and out across the ocean to where our sailboat was waiting.
The first few days, we spent in the San Blas Islands. This is a set of indigenously owned and operated islands on the Atlantic coast of Panama and they are BEAUTIFUL!!! Wow. White sand beaches, turquoise waters, palm trees, the works. Each island is tiny, and most just seem to have one family living on the island. Due to some problems with getting fuel for the boat, we only visited two of the islands. The first island was home to a single family and their bar and sand volleyball court, so we spent a few afternoons there playing volleyball and relaxing. On the morning of the second day, we spent some time sailing around the other islands. While we were sailing, a small pod of dolphins came and swam along with us for quite a while, jumping and playing in front of the boat. We stopped off at a snorkling spot for a little bit of exploration before sailing back. On the third day, we stopped at our second island before heading out to the open water. From the boat, we snorkeled through the reef, and swam ashore on what looked like a deserted island. A walk around the island revealed a single family living on the far side of the island -- I guess I can`t claim that one for myself after all! We also attempted to fish off the side of the boat. In total, one fish was caught, and not by us -- but a few crabs purchased from the locals provided fresh seafood for one dinner
On Monday, around 5:00 pm, we departed the San Blas islands, passed over the reef and onto the "high seas". The next 41-42 hours were spent bouncing around and feeling more seasick than I could have ever imagined. Yuck!!!
If you´re reading this because you´re considering the journey yourself: find a different boat. The boat itself was quite nice, but the captian.. wow. Not a person you want to spend 5 hours with, let alone 5 days. He yells, he swears (at passengers) and even tried to steal our passports! Post a comment and I`ll email details if needed.
At any rate, we`ve made it to Colombia!