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Sun Mar 31 2013: Pirates of the Caribbean

Logbuch (German for Logbook - duh!)

30.03.2013 coco bandero GUNA YALA
since yesterday we are ON TOUR again with a total of 25 souls on board plus 10
motorcycles! weather is great and the forecast for tomorrow for the sail over to cartagena
looks pretty good....HASTA LUEGO

"25 souls on board". I don't know why, but this sounds so nautical-speak, I LOVE IT!

So with all the bikes on board, we were off into the Caribbean Sea! First stop, the San Blas islands where we are offloaded to find accommodations for the evening, since we are not officially booked to stay on the ship till the day after.

Run off the ship, forced to fend for ourselves

The San Blas islands are populated by the Kuna indians, and we are put up for the night in their huts. Most of the islands are quite tiny, we could walk the length of ours in under a minute! Their primary means of transportation is by dugout canoe, which are works of art created from a single tree trunk.

Most of the Kuna women were wearing colourful dresses and legwear

We were a bit taken aback by all the flags with swastikas adorning the boats on the island and vehicles near the Carti pier the day before. But we found out that this was the flag of the Kuna Yala community that lives along the San Blas islands. It wasn't the first time we've seen non-Nazi swastikas in our travels, as our trip through India revealed their religious significance in that culture.

Island hopping by beautiful dugout canoe

The colourful material that the dresses are made from are called mola and are popular to tourists as well

Neda taking a stroll around our island. This is her third time around in the last 5 minutes...

We feel a bit abandoned on that tiny island, as we thought we were going to spend a night on the ship. We had to pay for our hut and we weren't able to sleep in the bed provided because Neda was allergic to all the sand fleas, so we opted to sleep in a double-hammock instead. Not a comfortable sleeping arrangement for the entire night. It was the only mis-step in our entire Stahlratte experience.

Little Kuna girl with her puppy

The next morning, a dinghy picked us up and we sailed off on the Stahlratte in search of a more deserted island to lounge around in the sun and the warm waters of the Caribbean. This truly was a vacation from our regular trip, bikes bundled against the salt water spray for the duration and us frolicking and relaxing on the boat.

Beautiful breakfast spread on the Stahlratte, surrounded by crazy Australian bikers

Bikes are all wrapped up to protect against the corrosive sea spray - still going to hit a carwash after though!

We're sharing our boat with a mostly German crew, a bunch of wacky Australian bikers, and an assortment of European backpackers and bicyclists. Quite the international bunch! Ludwig was the perfect host, having adopted a very island attitude towards everything in his 8 years in the Caribbean. Everything he said was prefaced with: "No problem", "Don't worry". It was truly a stress-free experience.

In the afternoon, we find a nice isolated island to anchor next to. BBQ is being prepared for the evening!

The deserted islands here could have been templates for all those comic strips

Stahlratte anchored off the shore of our playground island

After a BBQ dinner on the island, a bonfire!

Feeling very Castaway at this point. Forgot my Wilson volleyball...


The next day, more watersports! Neda goes snorkeling

Beautiful starfish - the Germans on board called this a SeaStar.

After doing some snorkeling, Neda and I swim over to our own deserted island to explore a bit. It feels so wild, wide and open out here, we thought maybe we'd put up a bungalow on this island, get a dugout canoe to go grocery shopping at the Kuna Yala's next door...

Honey Ryder, GS Ryder?

"I think we'll put the swimming pool over here..."

Neda's shellphone seems to be getting excellent reception

Whiling the day away on our private deserted island - so cool!

On the Stahlratte, they don't make you walk the plank. Instead...

Climbing 20 metres above the deck to reach the crow's nest - picture by Remo Hug

Social time before our voyage

In the middle of the night, we heard the engines turn on and we prepared ourselves for the 30-hour journey to Cartagena. I was a bit worried about getting seasick, since my last experience on the ferry between La Paz and mainland Mexico ended very badly. So while we were in Panama, we stocked up on 100 Gravol pills and made sure we started our tablet diet before we boarded the ship.

We ended up both feeling ill anyway, this time it was Neda's turn to feed the fishes overboard while I ended up keeping my lunch where it belonged. The crew was very good in predicting what we needed, as the large breakfast we had the day before was replaced with a basket of bread and crackers on the kitchen table.

The rest of the passengers emerged from the hold, faces green and all talk on the deck was kept to a minimum: "Pass the crackers please", "I have to puke again, excuse me, pardon me..."

Beautiful sunsets from the deck of the Stahlratte

I think the point of having a rest day in San Blas was to get to know everyone socially before we all clammed up the next day due to sea-sickness. Ludwig told us that most people take 24-48 hours to get their sea-legs, which didn't help as our journey was only 30 hours long anyway.

Needless to say, not a lot of pictures from our actual voyage! :)

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