Setting sail.

Trip Start Sep 28, 2011
Trip End Ongoing

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Where I stayed
On a boat...

Flag of Panama  , Kuna Yala,
Tuesday, January 31, 2012

After my girlfriend dumps me by phone, my parents pass away and I put my dog down, I reckon that today is a very strong contender for one of the most horrible experiences of my life.  Actually I'll put it a close fifth behind wetting my pants at a friends birthday party when I was nine.  Apparently he still has the picture, which he has thankfully been unable to find.

I'm throwing my toys out of the pram and spitting the dummy.  I've not closed my eyes and I'm feeling less than my usual happy-go-lucky, positive, full-of-beans self.  If you believe that you'll believe anything.  However with the dark dawn comes a new day filled with possibilities, and at last I am making my way to Colombia.  The Promised land.  What, dear readers, could possibly go wrong?

The taxi arrives on cue and it appears that for all of my lack of sleep, I seem to be one of the few operating on any useful capacity.  Most of the girls are hungover, or tired from the various assortment of frivolities of last night.  I heave most of the bags down to the waiting vehicles in the dark, and try to remain upbeat as if nothing has happened and nothing can phase me.  I throw a few dollars on the counter to cover my stay and a beer I had around 3am, and we pile into our rides to the dock.

It's a silent journey and I'm pretty sure I'm the only one awake.  Apart from the driver.  Which would be useful.  It takes longer than expected, but soon enough we're pulling into the quay side, depositing bags under a palm tree and waiting for the launch to take us to our new home.  It doesn't arrive on time.  I crack the usual gag about how these situations would make a wonderful start to a horror movie.  I'm told to pack it in and be positive.  I don't think my companions are on the same wavelength.  This could be a long five days.

Carson decides to wander off and find the right boat, which in all credit to him he does, jetting in from the other side of the bay like a German James Bond.  We are soon boarding the Maluko, a six berth sail boat that will whisk us to the Colombian coast.  It's a beautiful vessel, and it's captain and his partner, John and Irene, are both very accommodating and lovely people.  They hail from Venezuela, and have a wealth of experience in these waters.  With a bit of luck I won't be writing any shipwreck blog posts in the next few days, growing a massive beard, screaming "I have made fire" while talking to a ball called Wilson.

The smiles are broad and the spirits upbeat as we set sail for the open water.  It doesn't last long.  Now I thought I had my sea legs.  That said the longest I was "at sea" was a ferry from Dover to Calais.  Still, I survived the "vomit comet" to Utila, so I figured I was pretty sorted.  Being the proud Brit I am, I reckoned the fact that I was from an Island with a staunch history of sea conquest made it my god given right to sea legs.  Nelson had them, surely I'll have them as well.  Within a matter of minutes I was proved very wrong indeed.

I try to lie down as the nausea kicks in.  Unfortunately John needs to access the hatch I've collapsed on, and as soon as he moves me, I empty my stomach into a bucket attached to a string.  The only good thing about this was we'd just eaten some lovely fresh fruit, so it was the sweetest puke that I ever did eject.  The waves are enormous, apparently the worst our hosts have seen, and this does not bode well.  I wish I had the capacity to take some pictures, but I simply couldn't move.  Added to this, I was still on one hours sleep, so all I wanted was to lie down and close my eyes.  Eventually I was heaving and retching with nothing coming up, the boat being tossed around like a tiny cork, and nowhere to put my head.  To say I was uncomfortable would be a gross understatement.

Yet it was to get worse.  With no end in sight, I manage to lie down on one of the benches at the aft of the boat.  Sleep comes and goes, as does a lot of nausea, and frequent attempts at vomiting.  Around the time I actually do manage to pass out, it starts to rain heavily and I'm totally soaked.  The clouds pass, I'm whipped dry by the wind, and then a wave ensures I remain damp for the next hour.  "Blanket?!"  I manage the strenght to stammer.  Eventually, shivering, I recognise a towel being draped over me.  And so it goes, dry, soaked, sick, hot, cold and, eventually, after twelve hours of this monotony, I discover I'm burnt.  Pretty badly.  In my embarrassing fetal position on deck, my left leg has taken the full force of the sun and is now red raw. 

At some point during this nightmare, John taps me on the foot and points.  "Dolphins" he smiles.  I raise my head and stare over the swirling waters, just long enough to finally see that unmistakeable shape break the surface.  As much as I've always wanted to see one in the wild, it's only a second before I've lowered my green face back down to attempt sleep.

It's dark when we make it to calmer waters.  I then discover my laptop screen has somehow shattered.  I'm guessing this was from the excessive force used in throwing the bags on board by the launch boat crew.  As I start to recognise a fever setting in...fever mind, not man flu...I shakily take myself off below decks to crash out in my little box for the night.  I've been on one roller coaster in my life.  Twelve hours on one has not put me in the best of moods, and It is safe to say that the past couple of days have been pretty shit.  Except for the Dolphin.  That was the waters saving grace.

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