Noon friday we departed from Providencia and headed 120 degrees, east-south-east towards Rinconn Del Mar, “Corner of the Sea,” where captain Franco’s family was anxiously awaiting our arrival, just past the world’s most densely populated island, Santa Cruz del Islote, with over 1,200 people inhabiting just over 1/10 a square km. Unbelievable. Great trivia fun fact; you can thank me later.
Rinconn del Mar
With calm seas and favorable winds, we made great timing, with no complications and spotted land by 11:00 monday morning. And just as soon as we had spotted the beach of the small fishing village, our current destination, Franco’s family had spotted us, and a small speed boat pulled up alongside us packed full of Colombians cheering us on. They escorted us to shore where we anchored just 30 meters out front of their waterfront beach cabana. Here in Colombia it is Holy Week, more commonly known at home as Easter Week, and therefore the whole country is on vacation, hence his entire family here in Rinconn del mar.
Julie, the real sailor aboard. Seriously though. She could man that boat single-handedly. Amazing
Franco’s family welcomed me with open arms, fed me, gave me a shower to use, and more. They offered for us a place to stay, but Julie and I opted to stay the nights on the boat, a great escape from the family chaos, all too familiar to me. Days in Rinconn consisted of beach football, sunbathing, eating, drinking. People from the town worked as servants at the house and I felt guilty having people less privileged than I waiting on me hand and foot, carrying my bags, bringing me sliced fruit on the beach, hanging my clothes to dry when I looked away. It took no more than a day before I was itching to move on.
Franco and family aboard Paldemar
Franco Fun Facts:
1. He owns 5 dolphins and an entire aquarium in Santa Marta, Colombia and I’m welcome any time. I can dig it.
2. He’s a certified Dive Instructor and owns a dive shop in Medellin.
3. He bought his first sail boat at my age from a professor at his school in Miami which he would sail around the bay, until the winds would suddenly die off and he’d have to swim the boat 2 miles back to shore. Luckily he was on the swim team at the time…
4. He went to school for Marine Sciences.
Map of their cirumnavigation on the wall of the cabin
Last minute, “Shit, I didn’t take any photos of the cabin,” photo. My makeshift bed.
Unfortunately, I quickly realized that Franco was not planning on sailing to the closest city, Cartagena, a boat mecca, for another 6 days, at the end of his vacation, and so I began scheming a way out. So when my forearm turned bright red and decided to swell up to the size of a small balloon animal due to some sort of bug bite, I jumped at the opportunity to take a taxi 2 hours to the city to go to the hospital.
8 am thursday morning, I said goodbye to the clan, and took 2 moto taxis, one for my bags and one for myself, 30 minutes down desolate dirt roads, to the closest town, where I caught a taxi. From there we drove 2 hours to the city of Cartagena, driving past cattle ranch after cattle ranch, until suddenly a skyline seemingly had arisen from the dusty landscape. Fearful of the cost of a taxi ride, I mentally prepared myself to fork over at least 100,000 pesos, the equivalent of 60 dollars, the most money I would have spent at one time since I left Panama 3 months ago. Least to say when he pulled out front of my hotel in Gestemani district, carried my bags to my room, shook my hand, and then asked me for a measly 40,000 pesos for the 2 hour drive, I was left discreetly scraping my jaw of the tile floor. 25 dollars?! Sweet. I felt so guilty I gave him 50,000, especially considering he had spent 18,000 pesos just driving through the 4 tolls along the way. What a life, making that horrible drive each day.
I checked into my hotel room, ecstatic to have my own space for the first time in a long time, and couldn’t help but relish in the clean sheets, air conditioning, a television, my own bathroom, a clean toilet, a functional shower, and wifi. Complete and utter luxury. I moved in real quick, and did not hesitate to sleep naked, a favorite past time of mine from home.
It took a solid 3 hours before I was able to drag my ass from my room to the streets where I flagged down a cab to the Hospital de Bocasgrande in hope of a cure for my throbbing arm. The doctor and I had met somewhere in the middle, I guess you can call it Spanglish, and in 15 minutes, and a small fortune later, I walked away with a band aid and 2 boxes of antibiotics. Things were looking up. Having already been 6 days since the pain had started, it seemed it was beginning to improve anyways, but the doctors okay and some medication gave myself, and more importantly my mother, the reassurance that I will in fact survive to see another day in the grand U.S. of A, whenever that may be…
I since have been exploring the city by foot, and am sincerely in love. Didn’t think I was going to like it because I’m not much of a city girl, but it’s a real fun, entertaining place. The old city is so beautifully rustic, with cobblestone pathways just wide enough for a small car, full of horse drawn carriages, bright colors, delicious street food, bohemian cafes and shops, and a fresh juice stand on every corner. And everything here is dirt cheap. No complaints. I spent last night sitting on a park bench in Centro square drinking cervaeza and eating every bit of street food that passed my way. Great people watching too. [Haven’t taken many pictures of the city thus far, but I promise to pack the next post full]
Residential section of Gestemani District
Digging the fresh juices. Mango, Strawberry, Banana with strawberry ice cream
Curious as to what the boat scene was all about here, today I walked across the bay bridge to the Club Nautico where I walked up and down the docks of hundreds of boats, some occupied, others not, making small talk with anyone willing. It didn’t take long before I ended up aboard this gorgeously clean and spacious sailboat drinking cava and talking with one couple who had been living in the marina for the past 5 years. Beautifully wonderful people with so much to share. I felt as if I had run into some old friends. And to top it all off, I soon learned that Jessie, a Belgian woman, had spent a good portion of her life living in Monrovia, Liberia, West Africa near the embassy, at exactly the same time both my mother and father had been living there in the ’80’s. I wonder if their paths ever crossed. In my mind, I can’t help but believe they must have. Amazing. She’s currently working on a book about her 8+ years she had spent there. First copy: SOLD. Can’t wait to hold the final product in my hands.
A photo from my time in Sierra Leone, West Africa, Liberia’s neighbor. Beautiful people
After an hour or two of inspirational conversation, the topic of music came up, and next thing I knew she was dragging me down the stairs to her dining room, where she pulled out a beautiful piano from beneath their dining table; she had custom designed the set-up herself. I could not believe it. A piano aboard a boat. I began dreaming of the open ocean breeze billowing through the portholes as they sailed through the night, the sails flapping and the waves splashing at the hull accompanied by the sweet sound of the keys. I may have now seen it all. So cool. Jessie and her husband Kenny then proceeded to play a duet for me, her on the keys and him on the harmonica hooked up to an amplifier. And that was it. I was stuck. We spent the next several hours jamming, and she taught me a few tricks, and I taught her a few blues scales, and we were lost in a black hole of music, not a bad place to be.
Jessie and Kenny
Coolest piano yet
We soon realized the time, and decided to walk to town for a pizza. I mentioned how I longed to hear her play in the open ocean, and Kenny immediately responded, “Well pack your bags and come by in the morning, we’ll go for a 2 day sail.” Uhhh, okay. Why not take this traveling gipsy band to the seas. I cannot wait. Packing my bags now, and am checking out of the hotel in the morning to move onto the boat with them for a few days. We plan to buy a boatload, no pun intended, of fruit in the morning, so we can make all sorts of delicious concoctions with her juicer, and some fresh fish to barbecue on the deck. We should be back sometime sunday or monday.
I since have made another friend at the marina as well, who is making a hard sell for me to work on his backpackers surf/kitesurfing charter heading to Bocas del torro next wednesday. He wants to pay me some good money, and possibly my flight home, but I fear the timing just isn’t right, not to mention I already feel as if I’ve been there done that. Not really into sailing ginormous squares. Octagons perhaps; then maybe we’d talk. Maybe we could work together another time. We’ll be in touch. He wants to fly to Gloucester in the next month or so to look at buying an old fishing boat to renovate. I’ve promised to be his guide.
Bocas del torro, Panama
As far as future plans go, I am anticipating heading to west coast Florida in the next week or so to catch up with a dear friend of mine, at a time when it’s needed most. A reunion long overdue. Get ready Kus, huge, HUGE Sarah hug coming your way.
And from there, yeah that’s right, I guess the travels are ending here soon; I should be making my way back north. As my former boss Evan Mallet has recently put it, You are an absentee heroine in an epic fish tale that is waiting for you. My people and I have a seacoast fish revolution in the works.
Shit’s gonna get fishy.
As Ever, Sarah E.