South America, sweltering days and lovely cool evenings. This has been such an amazing city to visit, both Phil and I are going to be sad to go. It is a place we could both have stayed longer if not for the cost of import duty on the boat (which you need to pay if you stay longer than a week). What to tell you, the sea is the colour of tea here, I thought it was all pollution at first now I realize that a lot of it is just the muck being stirred up from the waves that build up because of the trade winds pushing them down. The anchorage is surprisingly quiet considering it is smack in the middle of a big city. We have felt really safe walking around 98% of the time the other two percent was fine, just wouldn’t want to try it at night.
The old city is beyond beautiful (see the pictures). I think the most incredible part is that behind so many of the doors that are right on the busy street are these huge airy courtyards, that look so cool and calm, with trees in the middle of them. I wish we had managed to be invited into one. But alas, not this trip.
The food is INCREDIBLE and often unidentifiable. Favourites have been the lady with the frying station on the road, fresh salsa (red and green) and corn tortilla things??? With mince and an egg inside deep fried, or the round ones which have potato and mince, a steal at 1500 pesos. It is the first time I have held One hUndred Million (Pesos) not quite dollars but who’s counting. Other favourite lunch was the typical Cuban lunch, soup (broth, cilantro, lime, carrot, potato, plantain), followed by rice, salad, beans and we had chicken but I’m dying to have the fish (it is whole and apparently really delicious) and amazing pizza at an Italian place which we are hoping to revisit in an attempt to eat well on our next passage.
The culture here is in the air and everywhere, tour boats heading past playing latin music, ladies in the department stores wiggling away to good songs. Fruit carts, Donkeys, and a different city depending on what hour of the day it is and so many unidentifiable fruits, I’ll try to take pictures and get suggestions!
We have met some other lovely people and even had our first ever visitors to the boat tonight, Marcelle and Bruce (from Australia sort of). Lovely to have our boat nearly shipshape and to be tucked int eh light sunny downstairs enjoying nice company. Andrea, they loved our curtains!!!!
The language barrier has been hilarious, lots of pointing and speaking loudly which makes everyone feel better. The yacht club is also funny, I was dreaming of showers and cocktails and lovely tables, even with table clothes, instead we are in the middle of a rebuild so there are tarpaulins, rebar and a fridge with nothing in it. They do have showers though (only cold water that comes out of a hose in the ceiling (not so fancy but so nice to have all the water in the world!).
Our local grocery store is like the Colombian version of Miles Market, a bit upscale but not overly expensive compared to the other ones, and on our trip to Exito today (the cheaper supermarket) I saw a rat (although it might have been a dog it was so big) and phil saw cockroaches, so I;ve decided any extra money is well spent at the Carulla (our local one).
Things are different too, we haven’t had to go to immigration for the first time ever, we have an “agent” David (sounds like Davide) who has taken our passports to get them stamped and brings them back to us. We were trying to find him today to get our exit stamp, hilarious… he said he would be at the club by 8 am, so we arrived at 8:20 and sat on our plastic chairs on the concrete under the tarp, no sign of him and by 10 am we had given up. Difficult to call as we don’t have a phone and can’t really speak enough Spanish to use someone elses phone. So we gave up, and walked ot the shop to get some breakfast (banana and mango juice), as we were leaving we heard honking and shouting and there in the parking lot was David… when do you wnt to leave he asked,,, tomorrow??? We said, where are your passports, so there in the middle of the parking lot, we hopefully completed our immigration stuff!
So many other little tidbits, like the lovely man that collects garbage and takes laundry on his bike with a huge front basket, always smiling and playing tricks (like my uncle Abbey) and has the BEST green elf hat in the world! The man that tries to teach me a bit more Spanish each day, the orange juice guys that squeeze a fresh orange into the cup before filling it with chilled orange juice, the music, the parrots, the heat. Finding a bench in the park and realizing if you stayed there long enough you could have icecream, juice, lunch a new hat, tshirt and necklace but not buying any of them!
Sometimes I have an urge to buy a souvenir just to remember, but I realize this place is so much more alive than that and we will never forget it!
So, trying to get organized to get out of here…. San blas Panama next… hopefully with our pizza in tow (if we can get one tomorrow!)