This evening we bid a fond farewell to Cartagena. Hit up a Juan Valdez coffee shop (similar vibe to Starbucks but much cheaper, more delicious coffee IMO, rainforest wallpaper, and named after the Hombre himself), bought rad fresh produce, had a McFlurry (USA, you're doing McFlurries WRONG. Here, they cost less than $2 and have Arrequipe - butterscotch style dulce de leche - spun into the vanilla ice cream. Plus, they have standalone McDonalds storefronts that only sell ice cream. Colombia DOMINATES McFlurries. And in this heat, they save lives.), And Mom somehow bought the smallest bottle of Coca-cola in the world. . We are heading for the San Blas islands (Panama) tomorrow morning. Should be a two day sail to Porvenir. No idea if we will have cell reception when we get there so it may be a while before we check in again. Stoked to experience those islands for the first time! Can't wait to meet the Guna Yala Indians on their home turf. . But we leave our hearts and stomachs in Cartagena. What a lovely cruising destination!
Cartagena nights in the anchorage.
SLOTH!!!!! SLOTH SLOTH SLOTH SLOTH SLOTH SLOTHY SLOTH SLOTHERIFFIC SLOTH! SLOTH SLOTH SLOTH! MISSION. FREAKING. ACCOMPLISHED. HAD TO LEAVE PANAMA TO FIND OUR SLOTH, AND HERE HE IS IN THE MIDDLE OF A CARTAGENA CITY PARK. . SLOTH.
Day Three Cartagena! Today we hit the big fortress, San Felipe, that overlooks Old Cartagena. Interesting place - a stunning view tempered by the long history of man's inhumanity to man. At the fort they showed a video that gave a decidedly pro-Spanish take on wars with England back in the day. . So much of tourism revolves around blood-soaked history. It's often a challenge to explain the past to my girls. But they thought the tunnels under the fort were rad. . Anyways, on to lighter stuff.... Ate at highly recommended Crepes & Waffles restaurant. My Spanish is improving but largely limited to vocabulary about ninjas, so I ordered a crepe that had avocado in it, since I knew that word. Turned out to be sombrero-themed pot roast filling. Tasted wonderful, if somewhat random. . Another highlight today was when we met a trumpet-playing busker on top of the fort. The guy was super friendly and tried to get the girls involved with singing a Colombian children's song about a cow. All they had to do was moo at the right time, but they were completely lost. The trumpeter rebounded by asking me, Where are you from?. When I said, USA, he shouted, GOD BLESS AMERICA! then played God Bless America on his trumpet at full volume. On top of Fort San Felipe. Standing below a ginormous Colombian flag that was waving in the breeze. All the passing tourists stared at me and Sarah, the gringos who evidently demanded their country be lauded. It was wonderfully awkward. When he finished, he screamed, I LOVE AMERICA! . Then I asked him to play the Colombian national anthem, which he did. That felt waaaaay more appropriate for the setting. I gave him some money for being awesome.
Cartagena Day Two! The whole crew went out for a tramp. It's pretty hot at the moment so we each drank our body weight in water. Dad told me about five times, I really like Cartagena!, every time we discovered some new cool thing. . This town is a wonderful cruiser destination. So much rad stuff is within walking distance. And tonight we discovered an ice cream shop and a middle eastern restaurant five minutes from the dinghy dock, so...... . IG only lets me upload ten pics, so I couldn't show you what the best cup of coffee I've had in my life looked like. But if you imagine a simple, small cup beneath a beam of piercing light from the heavens, that pretty much covers it. . Also tried the Coca-Cola with coffee bean. Tastes a lot like vanilla Coke. Not sure what the fuss is about. Although I outran a motorcycle after I drank it, so there's that.
Day one Cartagena in the books! History permeates this city. Everything is supersized, from the wall murals to the old city fortifications to the slightly newer popsicles. Stoked to explore more tomorrow!
First impressions of Cartagena in the daylight. I could tell you about the two submarines docked across the harbor...or the huge buoy tender with a HELIPAD mounted on the front of it...or the nonstop entertainment of cargo ships getting loaded with skyscraping cargo cranes...but I'd rather show you a photo of the fresh bread section in the local supermarket. Which, incidentally, was right across the street from a shawarma shop. . Cartagena, you have stomach, and thus...my heart.
Sailed into Cartagena, Colombia tonight after a two and a half day passage! So stoked to be here. This city is awesome. Buildings right on the water. We anchored in the middle of a city. . Every five minutes another powerboat motors by blasting Colombian pop music. This experience is a far cry from the Panamanian jungle:) . Also want to shout out support for our friends and family in the Bahamas and Florida. When we got back in cell range tonight we were shocked to hear that Hurricane Dorian is a Cat 5. Stay safe. We pray you get through ok.
This morning, Sarah dropped her reading glasses in the water and forced me to face my fears about swimming in El Jéfé’s (the Marina's resident 7 foot crocodile) water. The ocean floor is all mud around here, so it was impossible to know what kind of visibility there would be before jumping in . . I kissed my children goodbye, donned my mask, and slithered into the water without making a single ripple. Memories from our visit to Steve Irwin’s Australia Zoo played on a loop in my mind: a 12-foot saltwater croc following the chicken-waving zookeeper around a pond without betraying its presence, a croc launching out of the water with a powerful tail swish, a croc death-rolling its prey, and other such highlights. . I was not happy about being in the water without knowing where El Jéfé was. . To make matters worse, there was a thermocline in the top layer of the water so I needed to dive past eight feet before I could see further than about twelve inches - not that I had any hope of out-swimming a curious crocodile, but it would have been nice to see him coming. . My first two attempts to pierce the thermocline layer and braille my way to the bottom were admittedly unenthusiastic. But I try to handle fear by forcing myself to do things that scare me, so on the third and fourth dives, I grit my teeth and went for broke. . The bottom was only about fifteen feet deep, but the water was so murky I had to get within two feet of the floor to make out shapes. . To my immense relief, Sarah’s glasses were sitting happily on top of the mud, waiting to be retrieved. . I returned to the surface a hero. . But most importantly, an uneaten hero. . Note: El Jéfé hasn't ever bothered people. He takes a toll on the local capybara population though.
Sarah has been after me for weeks about replacing my beloved lifeguard hat. I resist because I want to wrest every drop of life from it. But tonight I finally logged footage from our last couple weeks of adventures and I saw what my hat looks when I wear it - when it’s not blocking out half the sky, it’s collapsing on itself like a dying star. Why didn’t anyone tell me I’m walking around Panama looking like a matador? . Well, these episodes are gonna look hilarious. Glad I don’t have to impress Sarah with my suave wardrobe at this point in our lives.
Joss was really bummed she couldn’t take Bear on her visit to Kentucky, but I told her I needed him to stay and help me with boat work. He was a champion today.
An accurate retelling of the Ballad of Exit Only. This is how it all happened, folks.