October 2009

Well we are still in Cartagena. We did leave once, after getting our bottom, chain and bridle cleaned by Alberto. It took him 20 minutes to get the bridel unhooked from the chain because of all the growth. Anyway we left the anchorage to recalibrate both our autopilots, after changing some wiring around, it worked and we headed back into our spot in the anchorage.

We took a tour of the Naval Museum, it was mostly , a collection of reconstructed cityscapes and boat models, however there was a few guns and ship part that the kids were able to get their hands on and play with, always a good thing. Lots of these buildings in the old town are collosial and they all seem to have large courtyards in the centre of the building, they are really beautiful, plus there are great views of the streets below.

One thing about being in Cartagena at this time of year, besides the unrelenting heat is the lightening storms, they usually come around dusk, all of a sudden a cold wind starts to blow and you cheer, yeah some relief, then you realize that it means a storm is on it's way, the dark clouds start lighting up with sheet lightening or bolts that look pretty scary and as long as they don't come near us, they are fascinating to watch.

All the guide books state that the Convento de la Popa is a must see, so we all piled in a cab along with Skip from Java Moon and drove up the 150 m windy hill to the Convent. The church was nice and the 360 degree view was amazing but other than that it wasn't as great as you would expect from the books.

We are starting to think about leaving Cartagena, our next major city won't be until we arrive in Colon, Panama so provisioning for two months is the order of the day or several days, our list looks scary: 20 lbs flour; 20lbs apples; 60litres of milk; and of course we can't forget the Halloween candy and on and on. We decided to check out the Mercado Bazurto, our guide book says that it is for adventourous souls only and the book was right about this one. It is large, dirty and extremely busy, we had a great inexpensive lunch and bought a pressure cooker and never even got to the fruit and vegetable section, well I guess we will have to leave it for another day...... (manada, as they say in Spanish)

Our friends on Tyee III showed up a few days ago so the kids have been having so much fun playing together. We also caught up with Excusme and got together with them on Tyee III one night. They brought some Harry Potter movies for the kids to watch (number 6 I think! I had no idea!)

Provisioning in Cartagena - We decided to get one more thing made while we are here, so we have delayed our departure once again. We decided that we had to have a sunshade. However we did give them a strict deadline of Friday. So it is time to provision: a great deal on meat is the Carulla, just a stone's throw away from Club Nautico. You can go in to see the butcher on Thursday, order everything that you want, they will vaccum pack it and deep freeze it, then you can go in on Saturday for pick up as it is 20% meat day at the Carulla! A pretty sweet deal. This worked out very well for us. Fruits and vegetables were an unbelievable deal at the market. Unfortunately, we went right after a major rainstorm so it was super muddy, but a very happy bare foot fellow offered to push a cart for us and this was very necessary as it turned out as the fruit and vegetable section was so large we never would have found things we wanted without him. We would say please take us to the watermelon section and he would happily lead the way to the largest selection of watermelons I have ever seen. For dry goods we took a cab to the Makro where we bought three heaping cartfulls of dried goods, paper products, and cans. It was perfect as they sold things in bulk. However if we were know ahead of time that they don't take any form of international credit card or bank card, it would of made my life easier. They only accept cash!! Luckily there was a cash machine just outside. So Chris would go out, come see me at the cash, then run back outside again to get more cash. This went on about five times. We hired a truck for the way back as we had too many boxes for a cab.

A trip to the Boca Grande outdoor playground with our friends on Tyee III and playing hockey on shore. Brining a little Canadian to Columbia.

We received our sun shade back just in the nic of time, as these things seem to go. I would not recommend using these guys if you are looking for canvas work in Cartagena but we do have a sunshade for now.

Love meeting other cruisers that add so much value to our time travelling. Andrea went with Marilyn on sv Dream Ketchr back to get her nails done for a pedi and a mani. Kids had a great crochet lesson with Terry on sv Niki Wiki – Cari made a necklace and I think that I might be able to remember how to do it.

October 17, 2009 Cartagena to Isla Grande, Rosarios - 22 nm

We dropped anchor in a beautiful looking anchorage, and we are so excited to be able to go swimming again. Some fisherman came by with lobster for sale so we bought some for dinner, didn't think we would be spending money on food so soon!!

The Rosairos were nice. I think they are there for rich Cartagena's to go to holiday and party. There were very loud parties on shore every night. The parties had competition though with the lightening storms. These electrical storms are unreal, they seem to happen every single night and they are vicious, when will they stop?

Haircut day!

We took the dingy around the different bays as it is too shallow and reefy to take the big boat. We did find the aquarium that people told us about. We went over but it was closed, we decided that it was now or never so we went in anyways. A very nice fellow tried to tell us the aquarium was closed then he changed his mind and unlocked the door for us. It was great we were able to walk around at our leisure without the crowds! We saw dolphins, sharks and fish and skates and rays. The place was flooded because of all the rain.

Totally flooded out!

October 19, 2009 Isla Grande, Rosarios to Cholon Bay, Columbia - 6.2 nm

We met sv Will of the Wisp at the fuel dock at Club de Pesca and they gave us the coordinates to get in here, otherwise we might not have found it. Cholon Bay is a very sheltered quiet bay but there are kayak venders I bought some sweets from the same guy two days in a row. There are about 5 other boats here, this is a great hurricane hole. It’s a huge mangroves lined bay, very well protected. Did more laundry, great to get cleaned up. Lots of water now with all that rain water. This is also a great spot to clean the bottom of the boat after being in Cartagena Bay.

Reading on passage

October 21, 2009- Cholon Bay, Columbia to Sapzurro, Columbia - 138.9 nm

Not the best passage but definitely not the worst! There was not much wind and a current against us so we had at least one engine on the whole time. There is also lots of debris, garbage and logs in the water (probably from all the rain) so we must be on constant watch. At 0800 in the morning we got caught in the middle of a very dark rain cloud, didn't bring much wind though, everybody got out in the cockpit and had a rain shower. We arrived in Sapzurro around 1600. Six local boys swam over to our boat and jumped off the stairs for a while. They were all smiles and laughter.

2 guys in a boat came and said it would cost us $30,000 COP to anchor here to help the town. Never heard of this but paid, what can you do?

There are not any other cruising boats here. But the town is very busy with little tour boats bringing Columbian tourists over from the next town of Capugana, Columbia. Sapzurian's seem to have this love of south american polka music. It is blasted from loud speakers that are in the middle of the main street all day and all night long.

Sapzurro's claim to fame is that it is on the border of Columbia and Panama, which does sound a little scary but it was very nice. We took a hike up quite a hill and at the top is a guard station with friendly AKA 47 laden Columbian soldiers. We showed them our passports and then hiked down over the other side of the mountain to Peurto Obaldia, Panama! There is a great little beach there with beach vendors (who never have change, so bring small bills!) We didn't bring our bathing suits or towels so the kids went swimming in their underwear.

Now I understand what the rainy season is. It started raining just as we were getting ready to leave the beach, it kept raining harder and harder, by the time that we got back to the anchorage, the whole place has turned into a river, it is green with tons of stuff floating all around, weeds, plants, and logs. Our dingy is half filled with water. I don't think I have every seen so much rain.

Took at dingy ride over to Capurgana, Columbia. Lots of little restaurants and hostels, cute little village, cannot get to it by car, only by boat or they have a little airplane landing strip. They have no cars, people get around by horse and buggy! However we did find something that we had been looking for in their little hardware store.

It is starting to get really busy here in Sapzurro, fishing boats, tour boats, supply boats, constantly going back and forth and the wake is throwing us all over the place, not a quiet little village we were expecting.

October 26, 2009 - Sapzurro, Columbia to Puerto Perme, Panama - 14.44 nm

Wow we are in Kuna Yala country now! The Kuna are said to be descendents of the feared Caribs and are fiercely proud of their heritage. Know as Cuna Yala to the indigenous people and Carmarca de San Blas to the Panamanian government this thins trip of mainland and offshore islands is an officially recognized, virtually autonomous region of the Republic of Panama.

A very quiet Kuna paddled over in his ulu - dugout canoe to collect a fee for anchoring here -- $15US!!!! So much for the $5.00 stated in our guidebook. Chris was very interested in his dugout canoe so he asked him if he could try it. He came aboard and Chris paddled around the boat a few times. He liked it. The villagers of Anachucuna follow the traditional Kuna principles. There is no electricity in the village and we were told that the store's currency is still in coconuts. There is a trail that leads to the next village of Carreto but no one is using it as they caught a tiger on it last week and I believe they killed it but there may be more! We will move the big boat over, no problem.

There is one other boat here and it is someone we know! The kids swam over to Will of the Wisp and invited them over for a drink. However, our cocktail hour was interrupted by several hundred very obnoxious no-see-ums. They are horrendous here.

October 27, 2009 - Village of Anachucuna

There is a trail here that leads to the village of Carreto but no one is using it as they caught a tiger on it last week and I believe they killed it but there may be more. We will skip taking this trail then and sail over.

The villagers of Anachucuna follow the traditional Kuna principles. Recently, Eco Tours travel agency from Panama City took their trans-isthmus treks through here so the village has had increased exposure to outsiders . Today, we are gonig to visit the village of Anachucuna.

The village kids followed us around through the village. We bought a mola and a picture. The village kids were playing on our dingy. They helped us push it into the water. We gave each of them a candy. At 1600 we moved out of the bay because the no see ums were so bad. Hopefully this is better. There is no electricity in the village. Dark at 1830. The store still deals in coconuts. Lightening again, its every single night!!!

October 28, 2009 - Puerto Perme to Carretto, Kuna Yala -- 7.75nm

The anchor got stuck in the bow roller and would not come down so we let the dingy down and Chris took his tools and as we were trying to not move anywhere he fixed it. Carretto is another traditional village, that does not have TV, radio or electricity. Photography and filming are banned as well. We saws dolphins right after we anchored. We had alot of fun here.

We bought lobster and crab from 2 fisherman who came by the boat for 20USD.

Some children and teenagers came over to say hello to us. We did invite them on the boat and they had fun jumping off the bow, and looking at the pictures that I took of them. We taught them how to play Uno. We were surprised when the teenagers left to change and came back dressed in very modern teenage clothes and caps. They even took out a pack of cigarettes but we said no to that one. We showed them the atlas of where we have been and where we are going. It is very frustrating not being able to talk to them though but it was an interesting and fun afternoon.

We went in to visit the village of Carretto. We met the chief and paid him our $5.00. Chris had the bright idea to bring out a bag of Canadian flags to give away, it almost caused a riot. All of a sudden everybody and their brother had to have a Canadian flag, they were grabbing and jumping at the bag so Chris threw the bag to the village teacher but it was no use. As more people entered the congresso to try to get a pin, the kids and I got pushed back until we were outside the hut!! After a few minutes, we went back inside and found the ripped back on the floor, some kids had 3 pins, others had none. Even the kuna ladies were in on the action. It was not an organized, calm way to give away something. We learned an important lesson about giving stuff away.

We arrived around noon just in time to observe their communal lunch, everyone was walking around with a bowl of rice and beans. They all line up at one hut and get a bowl of lunch. We met one of the teachers who was from the village of Nargana about 25 miles away, he spoke quite a bit of English and we were able to communicate with him. He told us he has been here for one month and it is the first time that they have seen visitors, the two other boats in the anchorage that left this morning and us --that’s it.

October 30, 2009 - Carretto to Nianega (Nianeka) -- 7.75nm

There was no wind, so we motored. We anchored between Tubula and Nubadup villages. These villages and islands hardly ever get visitors so they are very curious. We are the only boat here.

At least 6 canoes with kids paddled over to us almost immediately. They started climbing up on the boat, so we closed the gate on the two transoms and let them come up that far, probably a mistake as at first it was fine but after a while they started to get loud and were yelling and pushing each other. Now there are 11 canoes full of kids, standing on the transoms, canoeing between the hulls, looking threw our hatches, basically just staring at us. What I find surprising is that some of the children in the canoes are very young perhaps two or three years old. They can`t possibly swim, and these canoes are tippy.

Village of Nanega

We dingyied around and took at look at one of the farming plots which I believe was sugarcane. We dingyied over to the airport. I think St. Bart's has it beat for scariest air strip but this one was pretty small, this airports claim to fame must be the toilet over the water and the bamboo waiting area?

We walked around the village but because they rarely get visitors, it was a tad uncontrolled. Children were following us around. They would run up behind the kids, poke them and then run away, they would come up and pushing our kids, touching them, trying to hold there hand and they were all laughing etc. They followed us to the dingy dock to say good-bye. We could see alot of ulu's circling our big boat, but didn't think any of them had climbed on board, they were just waiting for us to come back!!! Once we returned to the boat, all the kids started climbing on the transom again, at one point one of the ulu's went between our hulls and started hanging on the clam shells. That is when we decided to leave. Chris called a ulu over with two boys fishing, he gave them a bag of candy and said you have to share with everyone, so all at once every ulu that was surrounding us left in a flash, I pulled up the anchor and away we motored as fast as we dared!

Toilet over the water at the airport.

October 31, 2009 - Nianeka to Isla Pinos, Kuna Yala - 6.66nm

We arrived in Isla Pinos around 1600. This island has the Kuna name Tupak which means whale. And it does resemble a whale It was used for centuries by pirates and sailors as a landmark. In 1571 Sir Francis Drake planned his attack on Nombre de Dios from this bay. Our guide book says that there are two villages here (Mamimulu and Pinos) however there is only one. We were told by one of the Pinos villagers that Columbian drug runners said they were going to come and decimate the village of Mamimulu because they reported the Columbian's to the police so the whole village moved.

We arrived just in time to start getting ready for Halloween, we were the only boat in the anchorage and the Kuna's do not celebrate this occasion so it was up to us to make it fun for the kids. Fortunately, they were so excited about Halloween that they had already spent two weeks working on their costumes, deciding how we were going to orchestrate the whole thing and in the end everybody had a good time and lots of candy was collected.