Making it to Cartagena.

Rudy is a fan of dawn departures, so as the sun rose we were pointed towards Colombia, engines humming, relentless and calm. The crossing would take a day and a half, most of it out of sight of land.

Open ocean. Waves not too bad, but significant enough to prevent things like reading or being inside, and leaving poor Jamila without appetite by the time she finished making food each evening in the stuffy galley. We spent one dinner watching Rudy hold her around the waist as she leaned overboard to lose her lunch. She recovered with impressive speed and the Spanish torrent commenced anew.

There’s really not much to do on a heaving ship, and people tended to fall asleep in random locations. Rudy and Jamila often stretched out in the main mess room (which we never used for anything else) while us passengers could be found in the stern or on deck, sun permitting. My main periods of excitement were clinging on the back of the heaving ship to wizz into the sea.

We almost caught one large silver streak of pelagic fish ferocity, but it escaped with about two meters to go. Rudy looked like he needed a hug. Imagining what it must take for a fish to get off a hook like that…I wondered if it should have just come onboard. Poor fishy. I hope they have good orthodontic surgeons down there. (Orthodontic sturgeons?)

That night we all took turns standing watch for oncoming boats. I sat in each of the twinned white plastic fishing/captain’s chairs in turn, peering occasionally into the impenetrable darkness in front of us, but mostly watching the stars overhead and listening to the waves passing around and beneath us, occasional slaps against the catamaran’s hull. There were sparkles of bioluminescence in our wake throughout the whole night and I let my two hour shift drift into three.

It felt like a very romantic date with Poseidon.

Sunset at sea

I sat in the stillness, feeling like I was approaching a whole new planet. South America! A new continent. The impending weight of all those places to see, people to meet, and memories to form was like…well, there’s nothing quite like it. Each invisible nautical mile was bringing me closer to a whole new touch of life.

By the following afternoon I was impatient for the continent, and generally pretty dang ready for solid ground again, and was pleased to see the skyscrapers of Cartagena on the horizon.

Jamila apparently was too, as she started cheering and clapping from where she was sitting atht ebow/ I was surprised at her enthusiasm unitl I realized she was shouting “bravo!” to the 6 or 7 dolphins who had arrived (literally) out of the blue to play in the modest bow crest of a catamaran. Not sure if it was her acclaim or not, but they stayed with us for a good long while, even Rudy’s reticent seaman’s face opening in broad smiles and laughter. Those animals are joy incarnate.

It takes awhile to reach the horizon when you’re chugging along at 6.5 knots, but finally we were pulling into Cartagena. Giant freighters glided out to sea on one side while power boats douche-bagged around the harbor mouth on the other. A line of tall glassy skyscrapers stretched impressively far down the coast, none of them a staid square, all instead sporting curves, angles, and frills.

“Like Miami, but smaller” was Jamila’s observation.

We pulled into Bocagrande, the yacht harbor area, past a statue of the Virgin Mary waiting in salty patience for her festival day of the year, and parked among the other yachts, our German flag comfortable amidst those of America, Canada, France, Switzerland, a couple Scandinavian crosses (who can remember which is which?), and my own personal least favorite, the Cayman Islands.

I don’t understand how anyone can bear to fly that flag. It is basically shouting “Hey everyone! I got rich in a system built by our forefathers, and I ain’t paying shit back into it! Suck it!”

Oh well. I shouldered my bag and headed into Colombia, looking for nonseafood, a shower, and stationary earth.