San BlasAugust 13 in Panama
So there’s basically a couple of ways to get to Colombia from Panama, one is to fly, the other is by boat. The Darién gap with its jungle, mosquitos, para military and cartels, stop you from going by land.
I choose to go by boat, sail boat!
After a 90 minute shuttle from Panama City to Puerto Lindo, I met everyone else that I was going to be with for the next 5days and 4 nights. I met a fair few in the bus, along with Niall and Rich who I already knew.
We hung out in a small cafe for an hour waiting for a few others to arrive, then we transferred by boat over to the ‘Wildcard’ the 20+ birth boat which would be home for the next 5 nights.
After a briefing, we sent off at 1pm, and given our beds, everyone on Dramamine, to our first island where we’d more for the night. We arrived after sunset, ate some really nice curry and everyone cracked on with the booze they had brought. It seemed like everyone was on the same level, some backpacking, some on a long holiday an a couple who had surprised the captain from home in South Africa. It was going to be a fun week!
The Wildcard had 22 beds, all a little cramped, but comfy. I was in the stern with 8 others and two toilets. Luckily I was under two ventilation fans and was actually cold on a couple of nights, everyone else found it a bit hot, especially when moving.
The next morning we woke up surrounded by 3 idilic looking islands and a couple of other boats. I swam over to a reef before breakfast, just because. There were 4 meals a day of you wanted them. First breakfast at 7:30, second at about 10, the lunch n dinner at normal times.
Once everyone was up and fed, we set off to the island where we’d spend the first day. It took about an hour, so everyone just chilled under the canopy on deck.
Once we arrived, everyone got straight in the sea, it was hot, making use of the diving platform off the top of the doghouse. Once cooled down, we all were give snorkelling gear and we all swam off to the nearest island. The San Blas islands are inhabited by he native Chuna Indians, some islands more than others. This first one had a very small shack selling beer and a seating area where we’d have lunch. Much volley ball was played and fish watched. There were a few lobsters hiding about and the odd starfish. Later that night, we’d head over to another island next door for a kinda naff fancy dress contest and a fire. It wasn’t amazing, but everyone got involved and more importantly, drunk! On the other side of the island was a lagoon which had some bioluminescent going on, not loads, but something to look at. Later though, back onboard, jumping off the boat proved a lot more entertainment and we got some crazy effects going on! Good fun having stars buzzing around your limbs!
The next day we had another hour to the next island to chill on deck. This time we had some spinner dolphins come and keep us company for about half an hour which was great fun. This next island was totally uninhabited and we had all day her to ourselves. More volley ball, drinking, snorkelling and I showed the boys how to crack open coconuts, so we went off collecting them to make cocoloco’s back on the boat. Another fun night on deck with good food.
The following morning we headed to our last stops before the big 40 crossing to Colombia. More of the same today, chilling, drinking, fish and jumping off the boat. We had another stop that afternoon at a sandbar. Some cool snorkelling and had a game of wolves and villagers. A kind camping type game, but good fun with a big group. We all got back onboard, sea sick pills in us and the deep water crossing began.
It’s 40 hours from the last island to Cartagena, so it was just chill time all the way. It would be the rest of that day and night, then a full day over deep water and we’d more early the next morning. The stars at night were awesome and there was the odd lightening storm. We had the company of some grey bottle nose dolphins, about 12 of them. You could see them bouncing over the water to get on the bow. They stayed with us for about an hour before shooting off.
The next day, more of the same, but there would be a chance to jump in and cool off in deep water, so the idea of whales and sharks got people talking. We got to about 2pm and over 2km of water depth, about 35 miles off land. Charlie the captain stopped the boat and let everyone know the score. There was a tanker near to us, so we had to move to get out of its path. Then, one of the girls spotted something. Shark!!! Really big. Turned out that we’d found a whale shark, probably about 5m, just flopping along on the surface, it didn’t hang around long, but for many, that was the end of the idea of swimming! About 10 minutes later, a few of us jumped in, me first, and stayed really close to the boat just in case. The colour of the sea was an amazing deep blue, not a cloud in the sky and beams of light were shoot off into the depths. Awesome!
We sail the rest of the day under full sail and into the night. That evening most people went to bed, but 3 of us figures that you could sit on the leawood side of the boat, legs over side, and the waves would crash up over us, great amusement for about an hour, then we too headed to bed.
The next morning we woke up in Cartagena after arriving at about 2am, we had breakfast and then headed to shore to check in to our hostel. We’d have to get little passports later that evening, at a bbq.
An awesome experience and a highlight of the trip so far!
Their son ...