Wednesday, April 21, 1999

Greetings from Cartegena!

The last time I wrote, we had just arrived on the far side
of the Panama Canal. That was weeks ago, and we spent most
of that time on boats.
We headed from Panama city to Colon where we were drafted to
be line handlers on a 50 year old Norwegian wooden sailboat
for a passage through the canal. The trip through the canal
was highlighted by our ship spinning out of control and
crashing into the side of the canal when the started filling
the lock before we were secure. Boy did the captain freak
After that we headed to San Blas where we stayed in an
indigenous village. Boy what a paradise!! San Blas has to
be the single most beautiful place that I have ever been.
There are 365 coral atolls here, each one prettier than the
last. The locals, the Kuna Indians were the most amazing
people. They maintain almost every traditional aspect of
their lives, and purposely limit tourism (The Panamanian
govt. wants to promote it, but the Indians who are self
governing refuse to cooperate in all but the smallest ways).
We were 2 of at most 10 tourists in the entire place. We
had LOBSTER EVERY DAY! And Conch, and Sea Turtle (this last
we were forced into - and it tasted GOD AWEFUL!) When we
first showed up, whom did we see, but our English friend
Nick whom we originally met in Panama City (he showed us
where to get beer on Good Friday - not an easy task).
From San Blas we hitched a ride on another sailboat to
Cartegena. The first night we anchored off of Chichimay
with Dave (from Colon).
The first two days we cruised slowly through the islands -
absolute joy. The last 3 were HELL. Categena is about 200
NM DIRECTLY UPWIND from San Blas, and we were in a 28´ cape
dory sailboat.
I don´t see how you cruisers can do this - 3 days of
pounding hull, viscous wind, miserable heat and being
sopping wet. Finally we made it to Rosario (a group of
islands 27NM out from Cartegena) and were forced to wait
there until Dawn - 50 knot headwinds and broken blocks on
the boom.
Now we are in Cartegena - What a gem! This city is
DEFINITELY worth visiting. Fantastic architecture, good
food, inexpensive, friendly, beautiful, etc.
Well, we are off to the Mud Volcano tomorrow - Hope you
all will turn GREEN with envy while you are sitting at work
and we are soaking in hot mud atop the Andes.


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