Sailing from Panama to Colombia was a decision I did not make lightly. After enjoying the majestic nature Panama had to offer, I decided Colombia was the next port in my South American adventure. Traveling alone had given me a sense of confidence, and a keen distaste for planes. I had discovered that I was a person who enjoyed the journey just as much as the destination. And that there were a million different ways to get between point A and point B. With all this in mind, I searched and searched for the perfect way to have my next adventure. What I found was hundreds of boats to choose between, crossing from the port town of Portobelo to the city of Cartagena in Colombia.
The trip was to last five days, with the first three spent exploring the San Blas islands, and the final two days crossing the open ocean. Discovering the San Blas islands from a sailboat turned into an unexpected and unique venture. I had chosen a sailboat with only ten passengers, including myself, and a lovely couple who ran the voyage.
Our first stop was on an island brimming with locals excited to see us foreigners, who mixed us an exceptional drink on arrival — the coco loco. This local drink was basically rum poured into a freshly cut coconut. We all drank straight from the coconut, still covered in its green outer shell, feeling like the luckiest island castaways in the world. As we sat on the beautiful sandy beach, admiring the local way of life, I knew this was going to be the adventure of a lifetime. Jumping back on the dingy, which had to make two trips to get us all back on the boat, I held a wonderful sense of anticipation for what was to come.
The next days were filled with unlimited fun in the sun. Exploring local islands, playing volleyball on the beach, snorkeling along the reefs. One afternoon of snorkeling had us swimming alongside one of the local reef sharks, called a gummy shark due to their lack of teeth. Another afternoon, a local fishing boat pulled up alongside ours, selling local wares and fresh lobster. Dinner that evening was the most magnificent buttered lobster I had ever eaten in my life. Sadly, we had to leave the luxurious islands to continue our journey to Colombia.
With a sense of sorrow, we helped pull up the main sheet and set sail. The sorrow lifted quickly as the first night of sailing led us into a magical world, where fluorescent plankton covered the ocean and made us feel as though we were flying among the stars. With our spirits lifted, we began the open ocean crossing with a sense of wonderment, and excitement bubbled between us of what was to come. We had high hopes that the remainder of the expedition would be just as magical as the beginning and were exhilarated to discover what awaited us next.