(124) Sun, Sea and San Blas
Having boarded the boat it was now time to say goodbye to some of the most amazing memories I have ever had and so many memories I would love to forget. All I knew was it was up to me now to make the best of what I had. It wasn’t going to be easy as I have a tendency of shutting myself away when things get tough or to hard. The anticipation of how I would feel leaving had made me numb and emotionless, unable to grasp what we had done, what had happened and that now I was on my own. I was getting used to it and had seemed to have found some inner peace. I was still a long way off but I was getting there and this next bit was what I needed to prepare myself for the next long road ahead.
Once we were out in the open sea we made our way inside and had a drink before climbing into our beds. The beds were comfy but it was so hot I started to sweat and the tiny fan was doing little more then turning. It was such a shame as a much more powerful fan would have made all our lives on board so much more enjoyable. It was hard to sleep but as the night went on the temperture cooled little making it more bearable.
Yuyu our Polish skipper
As the sun rose I got up and joined a few others that were already up having breakfast. Cereals and cold milk for breakfast along with fruit and tasted amazing. I have had cereals before but its so hard to travel with them in such heat. it was amazing being at open sea with no land in sight and just looking across the Caribbean.
Sailing in the open sea
It was lovely to chat with the others on the boat and great to be forced to stop. With little to do other then lay, relax,eat and enjoy my company I started to think about what lay ahead. It felt amazing having completed the South American continent but I was worried about Central America and staying safe.
As we moved ever west the sun set and we moved inside to stay safe. We had been told we were making good progress and should be in the san blas islands by morning. With little else to do we chatted for a while before heading to bed excited about reaching the islands tomorrow,
Sunday 30th Sept
Trying to sleep in the heat and humidity of cabin wasn’t easy but as it got cooler and the boats engine stopped I drifted into a deep sleep waking with the sun rising and moored up in a small group of islands. Everyone got up excited to check out what lay outside. There were numerous small islands scattered around us all covered in palm trees with many only just above the water line. As the sun came up we sat and had breakfast taking in the scenery.
Dolly on deck checking out the view
As the sun rose so did the heat at which point the awning was put up over the front deck and we pulled anchor and headed to another group of islands to spend the day. After around forty minutes we dropped anchor again and once the engines had stopped we were all soon in the warm water.
It was amazing and a great place to go snorkelling. With our second breakfast served up we were then taken to turtle island where we would spend the day swimming, snorkelling and relaxing.
Making our way out to the islands
Being about 150 metres long and 80 metres wide was just amazing and covered in Palm trees. With a volleyball net and snorkelling equipment with us we were set up for the day.
Yolanda catching me taking a break
It was great to relax but it felt odd I wasn’t cycling. With our dinner brought out from the boat we sat to eat then continued to relax, snorkel and playing games. It was really hard but I felt I should make the effort to do nothing.
It was mad to see just one tree on the island which reminded me of the cartoon islands with sharks circling
Looking back at our boat sat on the beautiful blue waters
With a similar day planned for tomorrow on some different islands, I knew I had to make the most of it before I would be back on the road. With the smell of curry getting back to the boat I started to feel hungry and couldn’t wait.
Once again we sat on deck and watched the sun set and feeling much cooler and more relaxed ready for another of very little tomorrow. As the red moon rose we sat enjoying the peace of the sea.
Monday 1st October
Waking up to hear nothing other then the slight wir from the tiny fans I got up to see where we were. A few of the others were already on deck and having breakfast and we were soon joined by everyone else. It was just so relaxing just sitting and eating whilst looking out at the deep blue caribbean waters.
Once our first breakfast was over we then could go snorkelling for an hour before called in for our second breakfast and yep you guessed it, life is hard on a boat all this eating, snorkelling and resting.
It was something I wasn’t used to and just felt I needed to be doing something.
Piotr and Yolanda spotting me taking a photo while they were enjoying breakfast
Captain Cowburt mooooooving us to a safe anchor point
Once our second breakfast was over we were taken out to turtle island which is very similar to the other island we went to yesterday where we were left to snorkel and relax some more.
Our island for the day, which was stunning but I don’t know how people could live here their whole lives
This wasn’t a bad thing as the fish were incredible and even swam in a huge shoal of fish which surrounded me. there were thousands of them but as I swam out through the other side I confronted a huge Barracuda which just looked terrifying. Once I was well away it was back to the mainland to confront the sand flies. Deciding to do a little reading I sat in the sea with my kindle and read.
This was just such a great place to read
It was just the weirdest feeling but was so great. Once I was stuck in my book I had trouble getting out of it but with night fall coming I had no choice but to head back to the boat for another amazing meal and to relax with the others.
Tuesday 2nd October
Being our last day at sea I was starting to get itchy feet from not riding. Don’t get me wrong it was incredible to have the break but with so far to head west I felt like I was now dragging my heels / anchor. We moved further along the coast and had to reach the customs island to stamp into Panama. On our way we stopped at another group of islands where we were greeted by some of the Cuna ladies that make things to sell.
The colours were incredible and so detailed.
Looking across at the many islands were great
The items they made were stunning and we could have brought the whole lot. Once we had brought what we wanted we were then set free to snorkel off the boat, lay on the beach and relax before lunch. It was then time to head west to the customs island and to the airport where the rich and famous fly in and whisked off in their power boats to see the same Islands as we had.
The San Blas customs Island and its very short runway
It was incredible seeing mini helicopters fly in drop people off and zoom off again. Once our captain was gone we were left to buy some beer on the island and relax. With a very powerful military boat sat in the harbour with about ten guys waiting for something to happen I decided to join them in a short game of volleyball whilst waiting for the skipper. They were nice guys and a great introduction to Panama my 30th country and 5th continent. I knew we still had a few miles to travel to reach the harbour but it wasn’t far. With another nice evening meal planned it was another nice afternoon watching a storm build in the west and enjoy our last sunset at sea.
Watching this massive storm build was awesome
This was the incredible sunset that followed the storm.
Tomorrow dry land and back on the bike for the next big leg of my journey north.
Wednesday 3rd October
With the boat engine off I drifted into a semi comatose sleep still a little to hot to sleep properly. When I woke most people were already on deck and having breakfast. I soon joined them while we sat in the harbour enjoying the view.
Leaving our boat behind for dry land and my next big adventure
With everyone busy sorting through their things I set about rearranging my panniers to get everything back in the right place. With a second breakfast out the way all our things were loaded into the boat and were taken to the harbour where everyone went their own way either staying in the area or heading off to Panama.
The fortified port of Porta Bella
By the time I was ready the temperature had already risen to boiling point and knew I was in for a long hot day. It was stunning following the Caribbean coastline but knew it wasn’t going to last.
The road followed the coast line for several miles before heading inland and down to the Pacific
Just caught this colourful bus as it passed
The nice roads before I was on a hot and sticky motorway
Soon the road went inland and became less interesting and so wanting to make my journey as short as possible I headed for the motorway. Being on it for around an hour was good as I was making good progress but being spotted by a police patrol on other side I knew my time was up. Within a few minutes I was pulled over. I apologised for being there and in all honesty I saw no signs but knew I wasn’t allowed.
Most countries it had been fine but here they were a bit stricter. Asking how far the next exit was I managed to convince them to sit behind while I rode the 2 km to the exit. Once I had been observed off the motorway I was then on a very similar road, more busy and probably more dangerous.
I had felt good all be it hot but I was starting to fade and the energy from the two bowls of cornflakes had worn off along time ago. Needing to eat I rode on as far as I could to get close to the city and spotting chicken being barbecued it was my perfect chance. With it already being past 4pm and still having 20 miles to go I set off again getting ever closer to the city.
Now being on the back road into town took me the long way and through more of the city making my progress much slower. After some directions from various people I reached the old town and found a place to stay.
Seeing the old city churches rise above the building was a welcome sight as the sun set
Although it was busy the hostel was nice but once again the Internet was shocking. Not knowing when I would ever get chance to do the blog I went out for dinner which with all the restaurants should have been easy but the music in each one was so load I just couldn’t eat in them. Finding a quieter one after a while was perfect but also the food was incredible. With fresh sea bass, prawns in a white wine sauce and mash was amazing and just what I needed. I returned to the hostel to find Launa and Sarah from the boat were staying. They had been in contact with Cristina and Laura and had made plans to go out. Joining them for a few drinks was great and a nice way to end a hard day. With an air conditioned room I was looking forward to a good sleep and a look around the old city tomorrow. After all I was in Panama!!
Having had these last five days to relax was amazing when often the overpowering need to keep moving often stops me from doing such a thing. I was lucky to have such lovely people on the boat and helped me rest, relax and refocus on what lay ahead. It felt strange moving away from a continent that held so much emotion but the excitement of being on the last all be it rather big continent was great. Add to this the opportunity to cycle from the Carribean to the Pacific in a day couldn’t be missed. I had worked out I had now cycled the circumference of the earth and yet I still had a long way to go. The thought of having done that was a huge boost and one that would help me move forward.
I was nervous about central America due to the many recent civil wars and battles between drug cartels but having heard of mainly good experiences I just hoped my luck wasn’t running out. Its very easy to be blinded by the medias view which although tries to give an unbiased view, that view is often of a tiny percentage of the country and holds no true representation of what the country or countries are really like. Out of all the countries we have been to we have been mainly greeted by kind and caring people so why should it change now!!!
I was now in Panama my 30th country and with the next few being so small it would really start to feel like I’m making progress and give me that extra kick to push on.
Thanks for reading xxx
Columbia and total states
Days in country 34
Total distance cycled: 1,381miles / 2,222km
Running Total: 26,156 mls/42,085 km
Total altitude gain: 27,415 metres – running total: 408,451 metres
Altitude gain per mile: 19.88 metres/mile
Totals from Ushuaia Southern tip of Argentina
10,008 miles/ 16,103 km Total alt gain 214,667 metres