Friday, April 23, 1999

Travels with SG: Cartegena

Hello everyone!!!
It's been a long time since my group email...can't remember when it was actually, so here's a quick recap to were we've been since leaving the States in Jan...
We've been through Mexico, Belize, Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador (YUCK!!!) Nicaragua, Costa Rica (with my parents-had some most excellent adventures-swinging through the jungle canopy like GI JOE on rip lines, touring a coffee plantation, horseback riding up an active volcano (with lava flowing at night), watching the howler monkeys from our balcony in Montezuma, relaxing by the pool, pushing the car out of ditch that I backed us into, fixing a flat tire, buying gorgeous Cuban Cigars-see dad if you are in the neighborhood!)
Cruised through the Panama canal as line handlers on a 100 year old, 50 foot, Norwegian fishing boat-converted into a lovely sailboat...lovely Norwegian family-2 daughters, 15 months (who learned to walk at sea)and 5 years old (we taught English to)...they fed us,and we had fantastic sleeping recommendations (on deck)for our 3 day "cruise" through the canal...The "changing of the guard" is already in progress, as the US is giving control back to Panama (canal) this Dec. The Panamanians are the most disorganized lot, I sure hope they contract out to a country to that has management skills, because they have a hell of a long way to go!!! They have no concept of how to get the boats through safely, or on time. OK enough bitching...(about this anyway!)
The San Blas Islands were the HI-light of Panama!!! San Blas is on the east coast of Panama and has about 360 small islands inhabited by the Kuna Indians(who have their own government, and have not been "influenced" or spoiled by the "white" man or Panamanians...gorgeous, great humored people!!! The most beautiful beaches we have ever seen, and gorgeous clear blue/green water!!!...some of the islands are inhabited, with maybe 2-5 families...A must if going to Panama! We were in San Blas for 7 days waiting for our "charter" 28foot Cape Dory sailboat (microscopic compared to the Norwegian boat) from the San Blas Islands, to Cartegena, Columbia...this trip is not for the fainted-hearted!!! And, I sure as hell would never do it again! The first 2 days we sailed through he San Blas Islands, then out to the ocean...first day and night in the deep blue, was ok...the second day, and night and the next day-I thought we were going to die (partly because I felt like crap...ok, I guess that "sea-sick" is the proper word to use here, though I only got sick once...does this still qualify as being seasick???) The crossing was so rough..heading directly into the wind with 15 feet swells!!! Let me tell you...going to the bathroom at 2am, just totake a pee, is a major chore!!! If you like "slam-dancing" and getting thrown about, crashing into walls,getting bruised and battered, then this trip is for you,!!! All night, all I could think about was what kind of food I really missed from the US!!! Weird shit goes through your mind, at times like these!!! North Beach Pizza, Pasta Pomodoro, Sweet Heat, Zen Noodles, Really good Mexican food, a cold glass of juice...
Currently we are in Cartegena, Columbia and loving it!!! It is a small-big city feel, with beautiful architecture-old colonial Spanish-just gorgeous! And very gracious people! Two nights ago we met a bunch a other travelers at our hotel and organized a private shuttle bus (8 of us) to a volcano 1 hour away...this is a very unique volcano, in that you "climb" 15 meters up steps, climb down a 2 foot ladder, into a volcanic mud!!!(the mud is warm on the top-from the sun, and cool underneath. We had the 12ft by 12ft "crater" to ourselves for 1/2 hour before the Bahama Soccer team showed up!!! It was absolutely mind blowing...there were 4 guys in the volcano that helped you cover yourself with mud, then gave you a massage...climbing out of the volcano proved to be quite a chore for me, as my bottoms were filled with mud and I almost lost them!!! (One of the soccer players totally lost his not too long after me)The funnies was my looked like I had 3 (well you know...) not 2 (as one of the kindly-soccer players pointed out) I told him, that YES, that two of them were mine (natural) and the other one grew whilst in the mud!!! It was quite hilarous, can use your imagination!!! After you climb down the "crater" you walk 100 yards to the lake where women are waiting to rinse you off...stip you of your b-suit (like that didn't just happen) so they can rinse it and give it back you you...they even tried to clean my ears!!!
Today we rest...internet (ahh, air conditioning!!!)lunch, have a much needed NAP :) and dinner with some new friends...not sure what will be on the agenda for tomorrow????

Next stop...we will most likely head to Ecuador then Peru (Machu Pichu and Nazca lines) before heading home for in July for 2 1/2 weeks...won't be able to see all of S. America this trip, but that's life, and ours has been one hell of a fantastic adventure so far!!!
Please send email when you have time, especially those who are thinking of joining us along the way!!

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