Santa Marta, Colombia (11,290 kilometers – 7,015 miles)
As previously stated in an earlier and equally irrelevant blog post, the Conbigotes gentleman embarked on a mini-adventure inside the adventure via the Caribbean Sea (that’s the Mar de Caribe for all of you more versed in Spanish than I). After being slightly sedentary for a week in Panama City, we dusted off the water wings and white boat shoes, and headed for Portobelo, Panama. En route, we hit a bit of a snag. Unfortunately, the over-protective Panamanian private toll-road workers had nothing else to do than throw a fit upon witnessing two unsightly men passing by on their well kept tollway. This situation would have called for the oft-used “I don’t speak Spanish” retort, but sure enough, they brought Police to drive the issue home. Therefore, our horses were not so delicately lodged into a pickup truck and driven 30 kilometers to the end of the upper-class highway and left to join the common folk. To be fair, they were chatty gents and seemed interested in our exploits, but it was a bummer as that it will most likely be the only non-leg powered advancement we have during this outing.
Once in Portobelo, Captain Jack and his self-titled hostel served as the rallying point and bartender for all of us heading out on the 64 foot Wild Card sailboat the next day. The grizzled old vet loudly serenaded everyone late night, asleep or not, with his version of “Unchained Melody”, but made up for it the next day by serving up possibly the best wasabi (none of this horseradish bullshit) bloody mary I have ever been fortunate to suck on.
While we were at the dock, diligently WD-40’ing the bikes to prevent salt and sea monster damage, it was fairly obvious what kind of a trip this was going to be as the 10 deep Aussie crew strolled up with enough booze to fuel a Guns and Roses reunion tour. While everybody else lugged a plastic bag of rum and beer to the dingy, these folks wheeled shopping carts. Quite an impressive achievement and I probably would have done the same if I wasn’t already sweating in anticipation of the eminent seasickness that was sure to kick me in teeth. Ryan took the high road with a positive train of thought by vocalizing that he will not get sea sick. I couldn’t be so confident as my last bout of deep sea travel/fishing ended with my Mother drugging me to sleep for 10 hours in an attempt to stop me from crying and/or vomiting continuously.
I have been sitting here for the last 38 minutes staring at a blinking cursor wondering how the hell to explain the following 5 days on Wild Card bound for Cartagena, Colombia. I’ve got nothing. Or too much. Shit, I don’t know. It’s borderline impossible to explain everything and the process of even doing so feels cheap and gross. There is probably a better way to inform our reader(s), but we’re going to offer detailed bullet points and a shit-ton of pictures. So here goes…
– 1 Kiwi (Captain), 1 Belgian (crew), 1 South African (crew), 11 Aussies, 2 Brits, 1 Swiss, 1 Portuguese, 1 American, 2 Conbigotes
– 2 days island hopping/snorkeling/plank jumping/sunrise and sunset watching in San Blas. I’d venture a guess that Colombus didn’t come across islands more serene and picturesque than these. (I just realized that maybe he did and that is why the country is named after him)
– About 847 pounds of fresh lobster, crab, octopus and fish. This bordered on gluttonous, actually it was gluttonous. Far and away the best seafood meal of my life. And probably in the top meals of the trip, alongside the slabs of beef we were given early on in Washington.
– 10 push-ups for saying the word “mine”
– Spiking the gatorade cooler with rum and/or vodka on a daily basis. Additionally, luke-warm Balboa beer.
– 36 hours of open ocean, highwater sailing. There is something to be said about waking up as the sun comes up over 360 degrees of ocean horizon line. Makes you feel quite insignificant.
– Watching dozens of curious pilot whales circle the boat as we idled in an endless sea.
– 3,609 cigarettes (probably more accurate than not)
– Being hand and foot with 20 new strangers on a 4 square foot section of bow, sharing 6 bean bags, sweating on each other for 5 days.
– The intense and stale heat below deck mixed with the overriding stench of a backed up septic reservoir. Really stung the nostrils and was quite enough to put you over the edge if you hadn’t yet lost the battle with sea sickness.
We sincerely hope that based on those bullets and the marginal photos below, that you can grasp 1/5th of how goddamn great this was.
The one thing that does need a bit of light shed on it was the feeling while slowly trolling into the port of Cartagena the final night. With most of the team too exhausted to stay up for the South American welcome, the bow was left to a few willing enough to take it all in. Selfishly, we will state that it was possibly a tad more special for us knowing we had just arrived on the last continent of the our sojourn and as the cool night breeze blew us in to the lights of town, we had an opportunity to reflect on where we had come and where we are going. It was one of those moments where time seems to stop, a stillness fills the air and the memories feel so thick that it is hard to breathe. At that moment, we both couldn’t imagine being anywhere else.
Hugs and high-fives were given as we left captain, crew and the rest of the Wolf Pack. I already miss everyone’s bullshit and would pay good money to be back. We’ll see you when we see you bastards!
So after a couple of days wondering around Cartagena and its accompanying heat, we got back on the bikes and now find ourselves here in Santa Marta in the arms of an old friend, Katherine Wedler. It’s damn good to see her again as we spend time seeping in the natural beauty of her bio reserve Caoba.
Next stop…..not sure. Somewhere southward in Colombia. We’ll keep you informed.