|Capt. Arvid Mykjaland |
The time is 4:37 am and we have all maybe slept for an hour at most. We crawl out of bed and go through our routine of packing our bags. This small ritual has become an art form, especially since everything we own is carried on our backs like turtles. If done incorrectly we feel more like donkeys.
|Sweet Birthday Suprise|
Today is my 25th birthday...the night before we went out in Panama City to celebrate my last night as a 24 year old and also our last night in Central America. It was an eccletic group, us three, Selcuk (a lovely ¨Turk¨ who has become our traveling buddy since we´ve randomly run into him throughout Central America), Dr. Richard Friend (an Australian doctor who undoubtidly lives up to his last name), Zan (Canadian/writer) and Hans (German/Editor) and a few other Australian, French and international travelers. I must say that I appreciate so much how traveling provides you with the opporutnity to meet people you might not other wise encounter. It opens your eyes to new lifestyles and gives you space to question what you stand for. If nothing else, regardless of how long the relationship lasts, there is a special interaction that takes place. Sometimes these interactions teach you lessons or often in our case, help us determine the next step in our adventure. Sometimes you meet people who are so odd, fun and intriguing that they linger in your mind after you have said your good-byes.
Zan and Hans were some of those people. The writer/editor pair met while traveling at a lecture Zan was giving. They quickly befriended one another and along the way produced their life mission, which is to enlighten men (and women) on the ¨art of love.¨ This is coming into fruition through a book that Zan has been writing for the past five years and Hans is now editing. After being escorted/kicked out of Nicaragua and Columbia for reasons they still are not sure of, the pair have settled in Panama to finish the book by the end of the year. Zan let me read an excerpt of his book (which he claims he has never done before). While in search of my own passion, it is refreshing to meet new people who have discovered their passion and are living their lives according to it.
|Selcuk & Capt. Arvid|
The amanecer (sunrise) has not even begun to shed light or warmth on Panama City but our day of traveling is about to commence. The crew consists of us three girls, Selcuk, Dr. Rich Friend and Matt, the skipper of our sail boat. Matt is the quintessential Australian, outgoing, fun and a die hard lover of Veggimite. Our mission to the San Blas Islands begins just after 5 am. There are a total of 8 of us that cram like sardines into a car with all of our backpacks and 2 thirty pound boxes of food.
Like all of travel days, each requires its own formula of transporation. After a tight car ride we arrive at our next means of transportation before the islands. We will need to take a small boat to reach our sail boat. Not surprisingly, by this point it is raining as we load up the smaller boat and we cover our belongings with several tarps so unlike us, they will remain dry. This time I don´t shun the rain but rather recieve it as a good-bye from Central America. This land has been very hospitable, taught us some very valuable lessons and got us excited for the next chapter of our travels.
Once to our sail boat Impetus (mean an impelling force; an impulse) not to be confused with impetent, we all have enough energy to unload our bags and food and meet our captain, Arvid Mykjaland (Norweigan, instantly likeable and a man of a few words and a legend) before we passed out from our lack of sleep.
When we awake it feels as if a new day has begun - we are refreshed and the sun is out. We set sail and all begin to settle into our new 39 foot home. There are 365 different San Blas Islands and we soon find a good one to swim and snorkel around. This is the stuff postcards are made of...the sand is prestine white, with sprouting palm trees on all of the islands. The water is crystal clear allowing us to the see the bottom 30 feet below. Where we have stopped there is even an old ship wreck which now serves as home and protection for underwater life.
With bloody marys in hand, we continue our sailing to find the island that we will anchor near for the evening. I take solitude at the front of the boat to enjoy my surroundings and reflect on what this upcoming year may bring me. Things feel quite perfect at that moment and I feel fortunate to be where I am with such lovely souls. This is a balance I am really coming to appreciate. My feet are hanging off the front of the boat, the sun kissing my skin, when I begin to look at the vast body of water around me. The mar (ocean) slightly frightens me (due in part to my recent brush with death) but also very much intrigues me. It feels enately feminine. She can be calm, gentle and mysterious but also deep, complex and strong. At any moment the wind and current can stir her into a forceful and angry state. She has already humbled me quite a bit and I imagine she will have a few more humbling experiences for me in the future.
|Dr. Richard Friend|
The next two days were absolute paradise. Out in the Caribbean sea and under the sun was anything but strenuous. We strewed ourselves all over the sail boat, in hammocks and on deck. We read and sunbathed for hours, usually topless. When our books were finished or we
needed a break, we snaked, chatted amongst our boat mates and admired the surroundings to our hearts content. Under a full moon, we celebrated over rum, cheap wine and fresh cooked meals compliments of Matt, the Skipper. Later, trips to the islands insued where Kunas (native island people) educated us on thier view of life and nature. Their ideology believes that the woman is the center of the universe. One night I was asked to be the Queen of Isla Iguana by the Kuna King. I respectifully declined.
|Moon & Mast|
The next two days the seas changed and so did our happy, free-spirited demeanours. Jessica and I woke up at the front of the boat air born as each huge wave brought the nose of the boat out of water and catapolted our bodies like they weighed nothing. But even that was nothing compared to standing up for the first time. We held onto whatever we could and swayed back and forth like monkeys. Our real voyage had begun...we were going to spend the next two days with nothing in sight but the mighty blue and lucky for us a storm was rolling in. We unintentionally comatosed ourselves with Dremamine and remained horizontal in our respective beds for the next 24 hours or so. We only got up to use the bathroom or grab a small bite to eat because that was as long as our bodies could handle being out of bed before the rushing sense of nasuea took over. Once the waters calmed down, we were all able to head to the deck for a bit to get some fresh air and enjoy a freshly caught Tuna dinner.
On the morning of the sixth day, none of us could have been happier to see sight of land. We waited excitedly as the new city, Cartagena drew closer within sight. This also meant we could get off the boat and onto land again.
Indeed, it was good to be on land but our bodies did not seem to agree with us. We felt drunk with sea legs, which is a truly odd experience. BUT we had safely made it to Columbia thanks to our trusty Skipper and Captain. Bievenidos a Cartagena!
Cartagena is a pleasant and charming city. We have spent much of our time wandering the streets of the Old City, admring the colonial architecture with papaya orange and vibrant blue painted buildings adorned with large wooden doors and heavy iguana shaped door knockers. There is a romance to the city which can be admired in the lavander flowers spilling out into sidewalks, horse pulled carriages prancing around the night streets and couples enthralled in one another. It is a city that makes you wish you had a lover to walk hand in hand with endlessly.
Unfortunately this romance doesn´t last for too long becuase the rain has followed us once again. They say that it never rains into December but it has rained for a few hours almost every day since we have arrived. When this is the case we lounge, read and cook. For this reason I call Cartagena our ¨Sleepy City.¨ The one day it didn´t rain we managed to get out of the city and visit Volcan Totuma. We got there via bus and a fun impromtu motorcycle ride. Imagine what looks like a dirt hill but at the top is a crater (6 x 6 foot) filled with mud. Like cerditas felizes (happy pigs), we laid in the mudd for atleast two hours while being given full body massages and soaking up the therapuethic benefits of the volcanic mud. It was the ideal relaxation being suspended my mudd, feeling weightless. Not to mention the sight of us after we got out...scary, tribal mudd people!
A new chapter begins tomorrow...we will be picking up a few friends from Colorado that will make our crew five. Up to the northern coast of Colomiba we go...
Hasta luego con amor,
|Impetus Crew does Cartagena...Deck Party!|