Dinner last night was excellent.
A young woman from upstate NY runs a small restaurant/hostel in Sapzurro served us one of the best meals we’ve had in the last two months. Sapzurro has about a few hundred inhabitants.
Sapzurro is a small border town in Colombia with no road access. There are some trails through the jungle to Panama and there is access by sea.
We came to this town on Sunday afternoon in a rainstorm of biblical proportions. Couldn’t see the front of the boat, less the harbor buoys we were supposed to pass between. We’d been warned that these storms occur but without experiencing they can’t be imagined. Hundreds of gallons of rain water were pouring off the boat and I told myself we would turn around if we didn’t sight the entrance soon. But like the red sea the rain lightened and visibility returned in time to let us enter the harbor and anchor.
Only to find we had arrived on the nosiest day of the year. As we anchored, The Cross of May celebration started with Latin techno music and volumes from loud speakers that would put the largest sports arenas to shame. That was to continue until 2AM .Then it stopped.
Then at 4AM the celebration continued with musicians sporting drums and various brass instruments walking the length of the town. By 6AM it was blissfully quiet again. It’s a two day celebration so it started again the next day-time.
We have no cell access here, we have cards for the wrong company. We need Claro but had Digicell from Panama. Competing companies don’t have the same sort of roaming agreement that is common in the US and even in Mexico. If you don’t have the right phone chip it won’t work. We are talking unlocked – only the US locks customers to a company.
But we need to just buy the right chip put into our unlocked phones and things will be right as rain (oops). Finally got the chip to send this update.
We talked with Juan at length last night. Juan is an industrial engineer from Bogotá who decided to quit his job and travel. He’s been here in Sapzurro for two months, but has been through the US and then came back to explore the outer corners of Colombia – it is no exaggeration that Sapzurro is an outer corner.
He and another traveler, I didn’t catch his name, were telling us about the dual character of this town. There are some things attractive to a tourist: a waterfall, fruit (mango, avocados, etc,) to eat from the jungle, inexpensive housing, but it’s also waypoint for immigrants.
Mainly Africans and Cubans. These are groups of people that sell everything to travel to the USA. The Cubans go by air from Cuba to Ecuador, then by boat to Sapzurro. I don’t know how the Africans get here but the two groups are easy to tell apart. I took the dinghy to the fuel dock to get fuel for our boat. There is a fuel attendant and Colombia Military at the gas pump. There were also three panga-like boats, with 200hp outboards and 55 gallon drums as fuel tanks. Each boat had seats for 12-14 people.
The immigrants pay a guide to walk them through the jungle to Panama. I don’t know the rest of the trip, but it ends in the USA if they are lucky.
Apparently the Cubans are worried about the easing relations between the US and their country. Sounds strange. The current US rules allow any Cuban citizen finding his/her way to the USA to become a naturalized citizen. They are now worried that easing relations will remove that rule. They come in large numbers, apparently 20-40 per day. I have no idea how legal this process is, just that it is. It feels a bit uncomfortable.
The day before Sapzurro was a motor-sailing day from the last islands of the San Blas to Colombia. The Kuna, Estefano, in Los Pinos came out to our boat at 6Am to tell us the bread we ordered would not be ready because the baker had failed to wake in time. We had ordered 10 hotdog bun sized Kuna breads for our journey but now our remaining Bimbo sliced bread would have to suffice.
Isla Pinos was a treat – traditional Kuna village. The posted rules said we had to be off the island by 7 PM.
Rather than describe the village here are a few pictures to tell the story.
Tomorrow we head for Cartegena – no cell/internet coverage on the way, but we will update position once or twice a day on winlink.org Type in ke7dof – our ham call sign for our position report.