I was really looking forward to my first sailing trip in life which last 5 days and started in Cartagena in Colombia with destination El Porvenir in Panamá. A border crossing onshore doesn’t exist between Colombia and Panamá, so the only way to enter Panamá is crossing the border by plane or by boat. Our home for this time was the catamaran „Santana“, a floating hostel with dorm-style beds and cabins with space for up to 16 people. The captain and his son came from Germany and our chef Luis, a small southamerican guy, who accompanied us as well was able to cook the most delicious dishes in that tiny galley even by heavy sea. The trip cost us about 500$ and we compared the different boats before booking in our hostel called Mamallena, what I’d also recommend.
Crossing the open sea
We spent the first 40 hours on the open sea with high waves up to 5 meters. Without taking pills against seasickness I’d probably threw up all the time. On the first day we just chilled on deck, everyone was lying around, hiding the sun in shadows or getting a tan. It was nice just to enjoy the sound of the ocean, no one was in need to talk. We had some salad with avocado and crackers for lunch but we only get a little down and the plates were slippering down the table because it was shaking as hell. The highlight of the day were definitely the dolphins, that accompanied us a while beside the boat.
Visiting the Kuna Indians
After a second night on rough sea we woke up and recognized the lighter waves. We finally arrived at the San Blas Islands and everyone couldn’t wait to get into the water. We took a swim to the first island where the Kuna Indians live and we explored the small island in less than 30 minutes where only palmtrees and wooden huts were located. We drank Coco Loco, a simple coconut filled with a shot of white rum, with the Kuna Indians and bought some selfmade colorful bracelets they selled for tourists. In the afternoon we were snorkeling, canoeing or chilling on deck reading a book. We misused the life jackets by sitting on them in the water and drinking some cans of beer. Finally we were able to took a shower with freshwater from the tank and enjoyed freshly our hawaiitoast prepared by Luis.
After a typical german breakfast with soft-boiled eggs and dark rye bread – a welcome change after 4 months white bread with butter and jam for breakie – and a quick swim in the caribbean sea we headed to the next island and enjoyed a nice day without wifi and ruts of civilization even when the weather was a little bit cloudy that day. On boat we served ourselves with fresh fruits and books. In the evening we sat together on deck, were drinking one, two or twelve beers and played a round charade with the whole crew. A funny matter when bad english, wine and beer influence the game. I remember that in this night the fullmoon was shining so bright that you could identify nearly everything without using a flashlight.
Isla El Porvenir
The last day was the sunniest of all four, the water was shining turquoise and the sand was white and bright. We hopped the last island and snorkeled the last time, finding an amazing shipwreck underwater. We reached the Porvenir Island where we got our stamp for Panamá in our passports and crossed the border. We packed our stuff and left sadly the Santana and the crew. As a goodbye present we got bracelets with the name of the boat Santana. We got picked up by water taxis to get to the mainland Panamá, heading to the next adventure.
Thinking back to the trip which ended exactly one year ago on march 9th made me feel a little bit melancholic but also very happy. It was such a great time, getting to know the Kuna clan, having so much fun with the crew and of course experience the beautiful islands in the caribbean sea.
From San Blas with love,