Archive | January, 2013

Diving Taganga

29 Jan

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Kel, Josh (Puppy), Pete (Cam 2) and I all headed out for some diving today on a reef about 15 minutes boat ride out of Taganga Bay. The water was the coldest we’ve been in yet (around 21 degrees) and it felt absolutely freezing as we’ve been spoiled by the warmer Caribbean waters of Central America.

The dives were better than I expected – despite lower visibility than normal around here – and lots of fun because there were a few of us diving together. We didn’t see anything exceptional like rays or turtles, but we did see lots of fish, a few lobsters, lots of evil looking eels and a few more fish (you’ll have to ask Kel what they were called).

Tomorrow we’re off on a 5 day trek to the Lost City and won’t be online until around the 30th, so don’t sweat when you don’t hear from us…. though if this city is truly lost we might take a few more days to find it. Send in a search party if you haven’t heard from us after a few weeks before we start eating each other, otherwise Kel will be first to go as he eats the healthiest so is sure to give us the most nutricion at a time of need (or the most likely to start munching on our toes – it’s survival of the fittest out there).

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Taganga & Playa Grande

28 Jan

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We made it out of Cartagena to a small town called Taganga, about 5 or so hours drive away. After finding ourselves (yet another) dodgy little hostel, we headed out for some dinner and crashed out early.

This morning we checked out the town, which didnt take long, and this afternoon we headed to a beached called Playa Grande, which is the next beach around from town. Lonely Planet apparently says that Playa Grande is “surprisingly under-utilised”, which is either extremely out of date or a load of bollocks because there was hardly a spare inch of sand on the whole beach. To be fair, we think it’s holiday time for the whole of Colombia at the moment, so the beach was packed with families.

Despite the crowds it was actually a very cool beach setting, with clear water and dry desert mountains covered in cactus leading down to the sand. We had a huge fish lunch and chilled on the beach for a few hours before walking over the hill and back into town with some great views on the way.

Tonight we’re keeping our heads down again as we’re off to do some diving tomorrow morning at 8am. The day after that we’re heading off on a 5 day trek to Ciudad Perdida (The Lost City), which is supposed to be quite tough, not so much because of the walk but because of the humidity…. so we’ll be keeping out of trouble for the next week or so (you’ll all be glad to know).

All photos from today are thanks to Liam, that’s why they’re much better than normal…

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Happy Australia Day from Colombia!

26 Jan

We celebrated Australia Day yesterday in true Australian style with sausage sandwiches, Vegemite/cheese/avocado toasted tortillas and beer (lots of beer).

One of the local hostels let us stream the Triple J hottest 100, which started at 8pm and went until about 4 in the morning. Surprisingly, we’re all up today and finally making it out of Cartagena, heading to a town called Taganga and then into the Tayrona national park for a few days of waterfall chasing and healthy living.

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P.s – introducing The Wolf Pack (of Dorks)…

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Cartagena and muy muddo

23 Jan

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Yesterday was spent catching up on life admin, escaping the heat after 5 days at sea and kicking around Cartagena Old Town. A few of us headed to a bar called Cafe Del Mar that a friend recommended for sunset, which is set up on the sea wall where you can watch sunset. Generally a very chilled day while trying to re-establish our land legs (aka being super lazy).

Today a group of about 15 of us from the boat headed out to a mud volcano about half hours drive outside of Cartagena city. This mud volcano is only about 15 or 20 meters high but apparently the mud is 300 meters deep. You climb up some dodgy, mud-slicked stairs and wait for about 10 minutes until its your turn to climb down into the mud pit which is about a 5×5 meter square with 50 or so people sliding about with no control over where they (or their hands/feet/limbs) go. One you climb down the ladder a guy will grab you, put you on your back, float you to the side and give you a good old rub down- front, back and face. I thought at the start that I would be able to keep my hair out of the mud, but that hope faded very quickly.

You can try your hardest but you cant sink into the mud because it’s so thick and buoyant. Even if you put your whole weight on someone you’ll only get them down to their shoulders. Once all 15 of us were in it was all very chaotic, fun, and slightly inappropriate until the boss-lady got sick of us and told us to get out (fair call, it was getting a bit rowdy)

Once you manage to scramble your way out and get another quick rub-down, you creep your way down some even dodgier mud covered steps and head into the nearby lake where a local lady will scrub you down and even take your bikini top or boardshorts so you can get everything clean. Needless to say we were all a little bit closer once we were done…

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¡Hola Colombia! It’s so nice to see you after 5 days at sea…

22 Jan

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Well…. we made it to Colombia safe and sound after a fairly epic 5 days of sailing and I can safely say that we’re all pretty happy to be back on solid ground.

All started amazingly in Portobelo with a beautiful day to set sail, a wicked group of 20 or so people to share the voyage with, and a lovely boat to take us from one continent to the other. As our pace picked up as we set off outside of Portobelo harbour, so did the size of the waves – soon we were rolling our way over 3-4 meter swell, which seemed like fun to me for around 25 minutes until the nausea set in. Kel and most of the boys were fine, but it didn’t take long for the majority of the girls’ faces to turn a light shade of green. I was second to go, setting my lunch free over the side of the boat and continuing to do so for the next 6 or so hours… though in the end there was not so much lunch and only a few gulps of water that I managed to get down. In the end about 50% of the boat had made their donation to the ocean. My biggest struggle of the night was needing to pee so badly but not being able to go below deck to the toilet without spewing. It took me a few goes, but you’ll be glad to know I got there in the end, if only with a few gags along the way (apologies for the mental image but I want to paint a realistic picture for you all). Kel, the epic adventurer that he is, had no problems at all and fell asleep on the deck in no time.

We eventually made it into the San Blas islands around 2am, which is when I was able to peel myself from the front deck, soaking wet, and make my way down to bed. Luckily the nausea had subsided and I was able to sleep for the night, begrudgingly walking past Kel on the way down to my bed and resisting the urge to give him a swift kick as he snored peacefully.

The next day we woke up in an island archipelago paradise, with perfect white sand beaches, palm trees and the bluest water you’ve ever laid eyes on. The first day we checked out a tiny little island with a huge population of (it seemed) women and children selling bracelets and wanting to see photos of themselves. From there, we hopped over to another idyllic island and spent the afternoon snorkeling, swimming, exploring, and playing.

After an early night we jumped over to another island and spend the day doing much the same, with the addition of some of the best snorkeling I’ve ever done and a lone dolphin swimming past to check us out. That night we had an AMAZING seafood dinner, including a plate full of fresh crab and the biggest lobster I’ve ever seen, finishing up with a bonfire and singalong on the beach.

Unfortunately the crossing from San Blas to Cartagena was not so enjoyable – luckily I was over my seasickness as the swell was huge and there was not a lot to do but sit and stare out into the ocean (I wasn’t game to try and read). The huge swell meant that everything was salty and damp, even our room and beds which managed to set saturated thanks to a defunct porthole. The sea was so rough that, even though I was over my seasickness, I wasn’t able to sleep in our bed below deck as the seas were too huge and I was almost hitting the roof as we went over waved- after about 4 hours of sitting on deck with Liam with only a sheet to protect us from waves and wind, we finally found a blanket and were able to get a few hours sleep. The two things that saved it were fantastic company and seeing a whole pod of dolphins racing across the ocean to play at the front of our boat as we sailed- absolutely amazing.

We sailed into Cartagena, Colombia at about 10pm last night with everyone giving a huge cheer when the anchor went down and the motor went off. After one last night on the boat last night, we made our way to our hostels in Cartagena, which is a BEAUTIFUL city. Lovely old colonial buildings with colourful flowers flowing off the balconies, street vendors selling fruits, leather bags, jewellery and all odds and ends. You can really see the spanish influence here- you would love it Mumsy.

So while we were glad to see dry land, we had an amazing time sailing (bar the spewsies, though I guess it all adds to the experience). Very, very excited to finally be in Colombia – we’re all heading out to celebrate tonight (of course!). I’ll add a few more pictures tomorrow when I get my hands on Liam’s computer.

Much love from Colombia, South America! xxx

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Panama City

16 Jan

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We spent a few days exploring Panama City… and when I say “exploring Panama City” I mean exploring the shopping malls and sitting in the Police Station trying to get a police report.

We did actually need to spend a lot of time in the mall – Liam had literally all of his stuff stolen in Costa Rica + Panama and we hadn’t seen a proper mall in about 4 months, so there was a bit of stuff we needed to buy. The first day we spent 6 hours in a mall (Mum, you would be proud) and then saw The Hobbit at the movies. It was nice to spend a “normal” day like that, though we dont want them very often.

The next day the plan was to get up early, head to the tourist police to get a report about Liam’s stolen stuff and my computer, head to the Canal and then make it out of Panama City. No such luck – the tourist police didn’t speak a word of English and it ended up taking us 5 or so hours to get a report and then a few more hours to buy the stuff that we needed to replace.

We finally finished everything we needed to to at about 6pm that night, so we legged it to the Panama Canal to take a look. The Canal is a serious feat in human engineering – seeing these HUGE boats be taken through a 35 meter wide canal is pretty cool. You see these massive ships come in and drop with the water level as they take then through each confine and the ships literally disappear because they go so low.

Yesterday we did finally make it out of the City and headed to the town of Portobelo where we today catch our boat down to South America. It was Liam’s birthday, so a few other friends made the trek here for some celebrations and Beersbee – it turned into a very funny day with a bunch of 20 or so local guys joining in the game. They loved it, it got very rowdy and they ALMOST beat us.

Today at 2pm we begin our 5 day sail from Panama to Colombia upon Wildcard (http://wildcardsailing.com/), a 60foot single hull yacht captained by a Kiwi called John. There is going to be 16 of us on the boat and we’ve already met 11 of those people on our travels, so its sure to be an amazing time. We sail for a few days through the San Blas Islands and then onto Colombia, arriving on the 20th or 21st.

SO, today marks our last day in Central America, just over 4 months since we left the beautiful shores of Australia. We didn’t think we’d end up staying in Central for such a long time, but it was just all too much fun. We’re super excited to make it to South America for a change in scenery, culture and adventure. Bring on the next 5 months!

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Bocas Del Toro

15 Jan

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We spent about 5 or 6 days on the islands of Bocas Del Toro – hanging out in the main town on Isla Colon and exploring the beaches of the other islands. Most of us spent a lot of the time chilling on the beach, playing cards, talking, drinking and generally not doing a lot.

Kel and I went for a dive on one of the mornings, but it rained the night before so visibility was terrible – only a meter as we were going down (which did not help my nerves in any way!) and then clearing to only about 3-4 meters visibility later on. I think we were a little spoiled doing our certificates in Caye Caulker and Utila, as the dive in Bocas paled in comparison. I only did one dive but Kel did a second which he enjoyed. Apparently there’s some decent diving in Colombia which we may do and hopefully we’ll make it to the Galapagos Islands which are supposed to have amazing diving.

We also spent a lot of time playing a game called Beersbee, which involves (believe it or not) beer and a frisbee. Its quite simple – you have two teams about 10-15 meters apart and you stick two 1.5(ish) meter high sticks into the ground about a frisbee width apart. The sticks have half a beer can sitting upside down on top of them. Each team gets a turn to throw the frisbee with the aim of either getting the frisbee through the sticks or knocking one or both the beer cans off the stick. If you throw the frisbee and someone on the other team catches, you drink. If you throw the frisbee and the other team misses, they drink. If you throw an uncatchable throw, you drink. If you knock off a can or get it through, the other team drinks. If you catch the frisbee as it goes through or catch a falling can before it hits the ground, the other team drinks… you get the picture. There’s also a point system involved, but it really comes a distant second in importance.

We did make up some other very important rules, however, such as you must high five every member of the other team when changing sides and everyone must celebrate each point in a good-spirited manner. All of the rules (and beer) make for a very fun and jovial game… especially as it progresses.

Bocas was generally an awesome time with a great crew, marred only by Grace and I being annihilated by sand flies. The little devils attacked every spare millimeter of our legs, so I was thankful to get off the island for that reason alone…

ALSO, I have a new laptop so i can keep the blog up to date again!

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