Backpackers of the Caribbean: From Panama to ColombiaWednesday, November 07, 2012
There was not a sound in the air, save perhaps a slight lapping of waves. The sky shone bright blue, the ocean sparkled like a thousand diamonds, the sand was white and smooth beneath my feet. I held a coconut in my hand; a local had chopped it down from a nearby tree for me, and it tasted more and more delicious with every sip. I looked to my left: nobody. I looked to my right: only my best friend in the distance, looking for seashells.
I truly was in paradise.
Our five-day journey would take us first around the San Blas islands of Panama, followed by two days at open sea. And though I could have never predicted it, the area turned out to be one of the most beautiful, most peaceful, and most isolated places I've ever visited. Inhabited by the Kuna people, there are hundreds of islands ranging in size and population, though most have only a few homes (if any) and many of the people rely on fishing and tourism. Boats would often approach our catamaran selling the catch of the day or handmade jewelry.
But all good things must come to an end, and soon it was time to set sail to Cartagena. Battling 5-meter waves for two days left many people on board seasick; there was not much to do except sleep, read, and watch the horizon. The most exciting part of the two days was when I had to go on "night watch" - as the captain needed some rest, each of us was required to look after the boat for a few hours. I had to monitor the sails, the speed of the boat, and constantly look for lights in the distance. All of this was made even more exciting/terrifying by the fact that we were sailing through a small squall, leaving me alone with nothing but distant thunder, the creaking of the boat, and my own thudding heartbeat.
It was scary, but amazing.
When we finally pulled into the harbor five days later (accompanied by dolphins for part of the final stretch), all of us couldn't wait for a shower and a real toilet. Interestingly, though I hadn't felt sick while on the boat, I came down with a case of "land-sickness" and still felt the swaying and rocking of the ocean a full day after docking. All in all, it was an incredible journey, and I couldn't be happier with the service and with the experience. If you are ever in Central or South America, I highly recommend sailing from Panama to Colombia (or vice versa). It truly is an unforgettable adventure!
How to Make this Caribbean Trip Happen
Brenna Holeman of This Battered Suitcase is a guest contributor for Sole Sisters. She has been on the road since April of 2006, travelling through all of the continents but Antarctica. She is currently based in Central America, with plans to write and to study Spanish. She is eternally single, unemployed, and homeless, but happy and loving her life. Follow her gypsy life via facebook and twitter.
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