Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Sailing to the Next Continent

Yesterday I secured my passage into South America, or at least I think I did. On either Saturday the 11th, or Wednesday the 15th I will strap my bike to the mast of the steel-hulled sailboat "Melody" and take off on the five day voyage through the San Blas islands, and across the Caribbean Sea to Cartagena, Colombia - leaving from the old pirate haunt and UNESCO World Heritage Site of Portobelo, Panama. The alternative was to ship the bike via air into Bogota, and myself on a separate flight. I am guessing the trip on the Melody with be more adventurous, and a whole lot less luxurious.

The problem of getting in into Colombia from Panama is a 54-mile section of jungle that separates the two countries, called the Darien Gap. The Pan American Highway is the longest motorable road in the world, with the exception of this "gap". The road, otherwise, spans from Prudhoe Bay, Alaska to Ushuaia, Argentina. The idea for the road took shape in the early 1920's and each country completed it's own portion at various times. The Darien section proved especially difficult due to problems associated with the jungle terrain, insects, foot and mouth disease, and conflicts with the indigenous tribes of the the area. Many of the diseases are no longer a major concern, but the project was never resumed. Today, it is a dense and lawless jungle.

I am very excited and anxious to start the next leg of the journey. I have thoroughly enjoyed Mexico and Central America, but I question whether they have enjoyed me? Things seemed to go my way, but my host countries didn't always fare so well. Looking back at it now, I seem to be the only logical common denominator in a series of bizarre events: Mexico - international flu pandemic breaks out soon after I arrive. My first week in Guatemala the president and first lady are accused of murder by the dead man in YouTube video (you can't write drama like this!) and threatens peace of the nation. The day before I get into Honduras, all the branch heads of the military quit and threaten a coup d'etat. The day after I drive through the capital, the coup takes takes place. The country remains in turmoil.

Now, I could take the blame for these events, and turn myself in, or consider this: "things just happen here". As the guy sitting next to me in the Honduran bar said, (while watching the president speak on TV) "Ah, we're due for a coup, it's been years since our last one".

Or, I could just keep moving :)

1 comment:

  1. I'm interested in how the sail transport works out. Is there any chance you could post some details? I hope to be doing the same thing in September.