It is nearly time to leave Colombia and head west again. Fathom has been moored in the marina at Santa Marta which has allowed me to travel about and leave her in safety. The highlight of my time here has definitely been the 4 day trek through the jungles, hills and river valleys of the Sierra Nevada mountains to Ciudad Perdida-(The Lost City). Ciudad Perdida is thought to have been built around 800 AD and consists of over 160 terraces carved into the mountainside. It was abandoned after the Spanish conquest when disease wiped out the indigenous inhabitants of the city but discovered again in 1972 when some stone steps were found leading up the mountain. Apparently the indigenous communities in the nearby mountains knew of its existence but had remained quiet. Unfortunately grave robbers ransanked the place over the next few years but it is now protected. In 2003 several visitors to the site were kidnapped by local rebels but the government now has the area back under control.
Our group with guide walked over 50km in four days which was a bit of a shock to the system after so long sitting on a boat. At night we stayed in camps and ate dinner prepared by our cook, usually consisting of rice, fried meat and one small token piece of vegetable. All the food, water and equipment at the camps was transported up the mountains by mule. Everything stays damp in the high humidity and the walking was hot and sweaty work. Thankfully there were several natural pools and rivers to jump into along the way to cool off. It was a unique experience to witness the local indigenous Kogi community as we walked past one of their villages high in the mountains. At the Lost City we were lucky to meet the Shaman who governs the local area. Within the the Kogi community, all knowledge is passed to the younger generations by the Shaman through oral instructions and he runs their lives. He gave us wristbands to provide life long health and welbeing.
Unfortunately the wristband appears to have had the reverse effect and a few of us have been hit by sickness and the runs. We have not been able to work out what caused it but quite possibly it was the water the tour group provided. I was sick on the 3rd day and was barely able to eat any food for the next days. In fact even today, over a week since returning from the trek my stomach has still not returned to normal and I have only just got my appetite back. Same story for four or five of the others.
Last week I travelled to Cartagena by bus for a couple of days and met some shipping clients for my old company. Good to earn a few pounds and revert back to work mode temporarily. I have taken advantage of being in a marina to carry out some maintenance to the boat including engine service (oil change, new filters etc) and windlass overhaul. The marina is fine but a major disappointment here is the coal dust and sand which blows around constantly and covers not just the outside of the boat but gets inside the cabin forming a layer over everything.
As a few of you have probably guessed I am planning to transit the Panama Canal and head into the Pacific. I have appointed an agent and Fathom has been registered with the canal authorities. Spare parts are being delivered to Shelter Bay Marina in Panama at the end of the month (cross fingers) so I don’t have much time to visit the San Blas islands but hope to spend a few days there. The weather has been very lively as normal for this time of year. Wind constantly over 30 knots in the marina with peaks over 40 knots and big seas outside. It looks as though things are calming down this week for a few days so I am aiming to leave on Tuesday.