The family woke us up at 5 am. They showed us the way back to the speedboat, where we waited for the sun to rise. Then we went on towards El Povenir. The trip took us three hours, and once we arrived at the imigration island, it was the first time we felt like everything would be fine. That feeling was, however, not lasting for very long.
We went to the imigration office and was greeted by, a not very happy, passport officer. He took our document which said that we were passengers on Ave Maria, but he could not understand how we managed to arrive on our own and he could even less understand why Paul was not with us. This meant big trouble. According to the paper, Paul was responsible for us, but now there was no one who had that responsibility. Our hero though, the speedboat captain, said that he was our new captain, and managed to get the passport officer to write a new document that he could sign.
El Povenir – the immigration island
This is how we could have ended up with Pauls non exicting navigation skills
However, there was still a big problem remaining. To enter Panama from a sailboat you must have a proof of that you will exit the country within 72 hours. There are very few backpackers who have the desire to exit Panama that soon, so the company who organised the tour faked flight tickets for all of us. Three of us had not got the tickets though, and this was obviously not good. We were obliged the passport office $300. We still needed to pay the speedboat captain almost $100 – money that we did not have. How would we be able to pay all of this? Impossible.
Our speedboat driver. He is a hero, he helped us with a lot of things. He is a very good man. Please, if you need transportaion in San Blas, contact him here.
The boys swam out to Dolphin Solo to ask for help. Here they are coming back in the dinghy with the captain.
We counted every single penny in all different currencies.
Feeling hopeless and desperate for money, we managed to call Laurel, this island actually had cellphone reception. She said that there was a boat named Dolphin Solo nearby, that belonged to the same company, that could help us. The boat was laying for anchor in the bay, Sam and Danny swam out to them asking for help. Meanwhile, we sat and counted the last pennies we had and tried to figure out how the heck we would make up for the speed boat. The captain had been with us the last 24 hours, he helped us in every possible way and just sat there waiting for his money.
The captain of the Dolphin Solo came to the island with the boys. As soon as he put his foot on the island, the whole situation changed. He wondered how Paul could send us away without any money. He also wondered why he chose to do the crossing when the weather reports had not been looking good the recent days. He himself would have done the same crossing, but chose not to do it. Dolphin Solo was the boat that Christine and I originally booked, if he had not cancelled the trip. If Paul had contacted someone we would have been able to change boat though Dolphin Solo stayed in a bay about an hour away from Carreto the days before. The captain paid the speedboat driver and printed new flight tickets. All of a sudden we were debt free and got our stamps for Panama. He bought us beers and said;
– It’s on Paul.
Then he arranged a water taxi that took us to another island, Chichime. There we spend the night in a hostel with open bar, breakfast, lunch and dinner. The bill would be sent to Paul. Finally we got to spend half a day (instead of three) on one of the San Blas Islands, finally we got to have a party and best of all – Paul paid though he did not know about it – yet. The island was cozy, but still not one of the islands we had been promised. We were supposed to sail to uninhabited islands, go fishing lobster and sleep in the boat. On this island it was a bunch of people and huts, and the snorkeling was not so much to cheer about. But we were so damn relieved, we did not have to worry about the money that we still didn’t have. The friends were completely exausted that afternoon, even though we should have taken advantage of every single hour we had on that only San Blas island, everyone needed a powernap. It didn’t require many sips of the drinks before everyone got smashed that night.
We could at least pretend that we had been fishing
All eight of us stayed in this hut
The next day the taxi boat took us back to the mainland, early in the morning. Even this the Dolpin Solo captain payed for. It became problematic when we came ashore, though none of the eight of us had money to pay the jeep that would take us to Panama City. The deal was that we should withdraw money in Panama City and pay afterwards, but they wanted us to pay in advance. After explaining the whole story for everyone, a friendly driver lent us money until we came to an ATM. I’ve never been so happy to see an ATM before, and I’ve never been so happy to get to a big city before. Our last misfortune on this adventure was that every hostel in the whole town was almost fully booked. We had to spend another few hours to look for somewhere to live. Eventually we all found a home for the night and the friends were spread to different parts of the city.
At the end, we were back in time, even though it took us one day more than planned and one day less at Ave Maria. After all these misfortunes, we could finally meet up with our brother who flew from Sweden to Panama City.
Paul is now banned from all the sailing companies.
This is a map of our journey. We started in Cartagena and sailed for 65 hours to Carreto. Back and forth and in cirkles. If you go from Cartagena to the border with bus, it’s 10 hours, then 2,5 hours to Carreto by foot. However, the airport that Paul wanted us to go to is called Puerto Obaldia, and it’s almost on the border. Then we took a speedboat to Playon Chico, 3 hours, for a random home stayover, and then another 3 hours to El Povenir to get our passports stamped. We had one night at the island Chichime before we went back to the mainland and drove to Panama City.
On the way back to mainland we runned over a crocodile