Saturday, October 30, 2004

Week 18 - "The Middle of the Ocean" to Otavalo, Ecuador

October 23 - 29, 2004

Whew!!! After 12 days at sea....Made it to Cartagena, Colombia. Amazing boat ride.

The whole Valhalla crew...from left to right...Jimmy from Sweden, Kiko of Brasil, me, David from New Zealand, Dina of Colombia, and Dennis the Captain from Michigan .


The last day of sailing was very nice. The winds were good as we approached Cartagena. Since we had no engine (see week 17 posting), we sailed in and around the bay - straight to the marina/yacht club, Club Nautico. The maneuvering was very difficult with no engine, especially in the marina with boats all round us. Arriving at 4am also made it more difficult, yet the views and glow from Cartagena were stunning - so pretty. So nice, until BOAT ISSUE NO. 6 - crash landing into a huge boat!! We dropped the anchor but it did not take hold, the winds were strong, and we did not have an engine, therefore, we drifted immediately right into the boat - a huge Norwegian vessel! Luckily no major damage was done and the Norwegian, named Oyvind, was understanding of the situation. Whew! With no other options, we tied off to Oyvind`s boat for the next few days.

Spent the next day and night on the boat waiting for our passports to be stamped and cleared. We made it to Colombia, and all was well... so we thought, until BOAT ISSUE NO. 7 - Way too hairy to tell but I will mention that it involved a rifle, a pistol, a bullet proof vest, a Colombian, a Norwegian, physical fighting, out of control dingy maneuvering, and pirate-style madness. To get the whole story, you will need to spend an evening with me over some drinks.

Once Kiko, Jimmy, David, and I were safely on land for the first time in almost two weeks, we were able to look back at the whole entire trip, including all seven major boat issues - and laugh. It was a very happy ending after all. It was an absolutely amazing and wonderful adventure – and the crew of 6 was awesome! So special!

Sunday to Wednesday - CARTAGENA, COLOMBIA

Spent four days in Cartagena, the queen city of the Caribbean. The most beautiful city I have been to yet - a walled colonial gem. And the Colombians... it is too bad that their country gets such a bad rap. You only hear the bad news that happens in certain areas which taints the country as a whole. Colombians were the nicest, friendliest, warmest people of this entire trip so far.

Photo of famous Colombian Artist Fernando Botero`s work...

Photos of Cartagena...

Dennis and Dina (who live on the Valhalla) met David, Jimmy, Kiko, and I (who shared a hotel room in Cartagena) for a grand finale good-bye. The six of us spent a very amazing and adventurous 12 days together so it was nice to formally wrap it up with celebration.

The next day, David left for Colombia`s Ciudad Perdida (Lost City). Jimmy, Kiko, and I left the day after David towards Otavalo, Ecuador to catch one of South America`s most important markets held each Saturday. It is too bad that the boat ride took twice as long as what we had planned for because Colombia was cheated. A week in that wonderful country is not enough.


Back on the Pan-American Highway...

After 36 hours on a bus and a morning spent in Popayan, Colombia, we made it to Ipiales where we spent our last night in Colombia. It was very amazing to leave the Caribbean and find yourself in the Andes the next day.


We were lucky enough to catch a bit of Ipiales` weekly market held on Fridays before we walked to the border and crossed into Ecuador. The walk was very pretty and the border crossing was simple but it took a long time - lines and paperwork.

We made it all the way to Otavalo in time for Saturday`s market.

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