Wednesday, June 19, 2013
Day one. Thursday the 13th. Left at 8:00am and made to the docks by 11:15 am. Leaving Panama City was easy and I got some good photos on my way to Carti. 3 other bikes showed up around 11:45 ish. It was on heck of a ride to Carti. One of the hills was so steep I couldn't keep the front wheel on the pavement! I almost flipped over backwards when the wheel came up and over, so I just let the bike roll backwards at an angle. Then I took off again slowly, and headed zigzag up the hill. The vews of the Carribean from the top of the mountain was amazing, Panama was one beautiful place!
So when I arrive I thought I was the first one there, I didn't realize it, but one motorcycle was already there near the entrance (Tony from Ohio). I sat down and waited 30 minutes. So Ludwig shows up on the dinghy and says there are several motorcycles missing, so he goes back to the boat to check email. Then he comes back and tells us to ride out to the pier for loading and to remove our backpacks and the saddle bags. So I get in a lancha with this kuna indian guy and then the five of us cyclers take the boat out 50 yards to the boat to drop off our bags. Ludwig gives us a rundown of what we should do to load the bikes, then we head back to the pier. Ludwig ties two ropes around the chassis, one near the handle bars and one behind the back seat. He makes a loop by tying the rope back to itself with each of the two ropes and then uses a shackle to connect the two loops together then a winch lowers a third rope from the square sail spreader down to the dock. Then the dock guys use a rope to keep the motorcycle from hitting the sides of the ship. It was quick and easy. 4 bikes in 30 minutes. Then we came aboard for a nice lunch of chicken and pasta with kuna bread. Then 30 minutes later we were told by alyssa juan guillermo, and neils ...the crew to get a bag packed because we were going to stay the night on an island with 70 kuna indians who live in Guna huts and we will hang out with them, have dinner and watch a dance performance. The whole island was 2 feet above sea level and 200 yards by 200 yards. It was an amazing experience. The kuna are lively, friendly and outgoing. They gave us our huts with thatch roofs and bamboo walls. Mine had a hammock and a bed, but I chose the hammock to sleep in. Then we walked around and took photos. Then we talked a while. The kuna made us fried whole fish with a salsa over the top, fruita de pan which is like a potato, but grows on a tree, tomatos, cucumbers, carrot, bread, and it was very good.
Then we were told to walk to a house down the way for a performance. There were 16 teenagers 8 boys and 8 girls who performed two dances while the 10 of us watched, and all the other villagers watched as well. They had flutes that were made of 6 bamboo tubes each shorter in length that made different sounds when they blew air over he top of it. The 8 boys had the flutes, and the girls danced. They criscrossed each other in a pattern that was confusing as there feet patted the ground to the flute music..it was cool, and the rythm, is still stuck in my head. Then the crew went back to the ship and we went to bed. It was hard to believe so much had happened in one day, kinda surreal. I slept great except for the fighting lizards on the ceiling in the middle of he night, and something that fell near my hammock, I figure I was better off not knowing what it was.
Panama city as I was leaving my hostal
Views of the 1 hour winding mountain ride to Carti (4 photos)
My motorcycle at the Carti airport/landing strip
The pier with the Stahlratte in the background
Our motorcycles waiting at the entrance
Captain Ludwig...our first introduction
Loading the bikes (6 photos) and the ship pulled right up to the pier..it was pretty amazing to see that.
our first lunch on the ship
The next two photos are the stairs leading to the bunks
The galley (kitchen)
The breakfast room
The ship view from the upper deck
The san blas islands (2 photos)
Me on the bow sprit
Close up of the capitan
The guna hut
The kuna dinner which was great and the kuna guy that cooked it was there the whole time very concerned and making sure we were happy with the meal.
The dance performance
The outdoor toilet
The guy that ran the convenient store and who had worked on the panama canal
We also met a woman that was 105 years old on the island