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ReizenReizen

From Colombia to Panama: sailing the San Blas Islands

Sailing from Colombia to Panama: an adventure!

Hi, I’m back! You might have noticed that I skipped a week with writing a blog. This time last week, I had just returned from a sailing trip. I arrived in a new country, a new hostel, with new people… I needed a break from the writing!

In this blog I will tell you all about my sailing trip – from Colombia to Panama – and about my week in Panama City. After that, you are up to date!

Didn’t read my previous travel diary? Click here.

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The Quest, our sailboat

Sailing from Colombia to Panama

The sailing trip was from the 4th to the 9th of May, from Colombia to Panama. We started in the port of Cartagena – a city that I had stayed in before for three weeks. Then, we would sail on open sea to the San Blas Islands, a group of islands before the coast of Panama. Here, we would stay a couple of days before entering the main land of Panama.

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Departure day in Cartagena

On the 4th of May, we had to gather at 10 a.m. at the port. We could drop off our backpacks, that would be stored in the boat. We would also have to pay the trip now, and we would get instructions for the trip.

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Morning of departure

At the port I met another Dutch woman, B, whom I liked right away. We were brought to the sailing boat by the captain on a smaller boat, and he went back to get the other passengers. B and I stayed on the sailboat and started to explore it.

After a while, everyone was on board: B, another Dutch girl, an American girl, a German boy, an Australian girl, and two French girls. We paid for our trip, left our backpacks, and were brought back to the mainland. The instructions would follow at night.

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A day in Cartagena

During the day, B and I walked through Cartagena. It was really nice, because I had already said goodbye to this city and I didn’t think I would see it again. We went to shops, drank coffee, ate dinner together… and then went to the supermarket to buy snacks and drinks for the boat. At 8 p.m., we had to be back at the port.

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Night of departure

We were all brought to the sailing boat by the captain, where we were shown our rooms. The, the captain told us he had two rules:

  1. Don’t block the toilet.
  2. Keep the windows of the cabins closed while on open sea.

Eventually, there turned out to be many more rules (don’t go on the front deck in the dark; don’t go inside when you’re wet; wash of the sand before entering the boat; don’t put plates or glasses on a surface where they could fall; etc). But he didn’t tell us that.

Cartagena, Colombia, at night

After that, the captain went to sleep for a couple of hours, while the group got to know each other. A little before midnight, the captain appeared again and the made the boat ready for takeoff. Some of us went to sleep already, but some of us (including me) stayed up to watch us leave Cartagena.

We left the lights of the city and set sail into the open sea.

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The day on open sea from Colombia to Panama

view from our sailing boat

On the 5th of May, we would be on open sea all day. In total, we would be on open sea for 36 hours. This started in the night of the 4th of May, and it would take us until the early morning of the 6th. After that, we would arrive at the group of islands, with calmer water.

When I woke up that morning, I felt fine. I slept a little restless that night, being rocked back and forth by the boat. I got up and went to deck to enjoy the view of the open sea in the early morning.

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Sea sickness on the trip from Colombia to Panama

This nice feeling lasted about half an hour, and then I started to feel nauseous. I took another pill against sea sickness (I had one the night before in the port, and also before I went to bed). This helped a little, but not much.

The biggest part of this day, I just tried to sleep. I discovered that having my eyes closed was the best way to deal with the sickness. I wasn’t the only one who was struggling. Everybody felt a little sick that day. And everybody was lying or sitting the deck, doing nothing.

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Less sea sickness

In the late afternoon, my body started to adjust to life on deck, and I started to feel better. I ate some late lunch, and the others also seemed to feel better. We started talking and laughing again.

At night, everyone felt fine again, and we all ate dinner together.

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The days on the San Blas Islands

The next day, we arrived at the San Blas islands. This is a group of 357 islands. On some islands, there are people living; on other islands, there is nobody.

On the first day, we were on an island that was uninhabited. We brought some beers and snacks to the island to hang out. We walked around, went for a swim in the sea, and tanned on the beach while talking.

That was our day. Only for the lunch, we were brought to the sailing boat by the captain to eat there. At the end of the day, we all ate dinner on the sailing boat again.

This was what all the days on the islands looked like. On day two and three, we went to islands with local people living there. The locals left us alone and we left them alone. They didn’t seem to be very interested in our presence, but they didn’t seem to mind it either.

San Blas Islands, Panama

In the night of 8 to 9 May, we went to the port of the mainland of Panama. We slept one more night on the boat, ate breakfast on the boat in the morning, and then we were brought to the mainland. From here, we took a shuttle to Panama City.

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One week in Panama City

View over Panama City

I had booked the first two nights in Panama City in a cheap hostel. Even though we planned to arrive on the 9th of May (which we did), the weather could sometimes delay sailing trips. If this would have been the case with me, I wouldn’t have lost much money.

But everything went according to plan. I would not recommend the hostel I was staying at: it was far from the city centre, the staff was not very nice, and the facilities were… mediocre. But for two nights, it was fine.

Almost everyone of the boat stayed in Panama City for a couple of days, and so that night we all went for a drink. The next day, I spent time with the Dutch girls. We walked around the city, drank coffee, and visited cute shops.

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A few days in an AirBnB

After two nights in my hostel, I had another five nights in an AirBnB. It was a little above budget, but it was super nice! It was small apartment, all to myself, with my own kitchen so I could cook my own food.

Everyone from the boat had already left Panama City at this point, and so I knew nobody in the city. I didn’t mind. There was enough work to do, to catch up for the time I spent on the boat. And I also liked being alone for a few days.

Panama City

During these days, I mostly worked, started a new series, watched the Eurovision Songfestival, and I walked around the city on my own. All in all, it was a nice week in Panama City.

Tijdens deze dagen heb ik vooral veel gewerkt, ben ik aan een nieuwe serie begonnen, heb ik het Eurovisie Songfestival gekeken, en heb ik rondgelopen door de stad. Al met al een heerlijke week in Panama-stad!

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