One of the highlights of an incredible year spent travelling all over South America was a boat trip from Cartagena, Colombia to Panama, stopping off in the San Blas islands. Literally, what could be better than 7 days on a yacht sailing around breathtaking, deserted islands, relaxing with a great group of people, drinking rum and eating lobsters. Hard to beat.
The morning of our departure, we met up with the captain and crew, and the other 12 people who were to be sailing with us. Surprisingly, we had already met about half of the people on the ship in various countries over the last few months. Its a funny thing when your travelling, the same people seem to pop up everywhere. We then all went on a last minute dash around the supermarket to stock up on beer and disgusting local spirits. No need to buy any food, all of the meals were included with the trip.
Days were mostly spent sunbathing, drinking and snorkelling around the mostly uninhabited islands. The waters around the San Blas islands are teeming with marine life: while snorkelling we saw an incredible variety of fish, sea turtles, stingrays, squid and even a Nurse Shark. On some days whole shoals of dolphins would swim along with the boat for hours at a time, playfully diving out of the water at the bow of the ship.
The food on the boat was pretty amazing. After months living off the bland South America diet of beans, chicken and rice, some home cooked meals like spaghetti Bolognese and sausages with mash potatoes were very welcome. When we were sailing round the islands local Kuna Indians would pull up on their boats selling us crabs and lobsters that the cook would then prepare for us. Mixers for drinks were also readily available, just swim to the nearest island, grab a few coconuts then top them up with rum.
We definitely wished that we had started our South American journey with this trip and not done it right at the end. Being stuck on a boat for 7 days with people gives you a lot of time to bond and make good friends to continue your travels with.