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