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Date: 28 Dec 2013 21:52:00
Title: Santa Marta and catch up pics

Our first view of Santa Marta, approaching from the North. Don't worry, we didn't need to sail between those rocks!

First of all, after the kerfuffle last time, I figured I'd better put up some evidence of our wondrous fish:


She started off looking like this:


but the minute she died she lost all the yellow colour, these two snaps were taken no more than 30 seconds apart, she doesn't look like the same fish:


Poor thing... I did feel sorry for her but she fed Phil and I as much as we could eat that evening, then was supper for 8 of us on Boxing Day, and there's still another two meals for Phil and I in the freezer... so she died for a good cause!

I also wanted to show you our new much spoken of solar panels, here's one in wing mode, the other's on the other side of the cockpit:


Should we wish to fly I am sure they will help, however they are cunningly fitted with sliders and the legs come off so we can fold them flat either on the outside of the spray dodgers, or on the inside. Thus we can protect them when coming into marinas or going through the Panama Canal...

Talking of things solar, it occurred to me that if we couldn't even walk on deck barefoot in this winter sunshine, and Steve Wade could bake bread and fry eggs in Uk's July sunshine, surely i could use it for cooking. Consequently I obtained a black pot with a glass lid and experimented. It works like gang busters. I have evolved my solar oven design a little by putting the pot in a plastic bag and I was given some shiny bubble wrap to act as reflectors. Here's it in action, not very elegant but effective: 


The reflector needs a bit of development but the concept is proven! The only thing is, you need to think of what you're cooking at breakfast time and ideally eat around 3pm, because after that the sun goes off the boil.

  
The town beach just above the marina.

So, that's done with catch-up pics, back now to Santa Marta! It is marvellous. There's so much to take in everywhere you go, the place is so vibrant, so alive! There's a different flavour, I haven't been able to grasp it enough to tell you yet, but it doesn't feel like anywhere else we've been, no where in Europe, nor in the Caribbean, nor even in Africa. Perhaps part of the feeling comes from the mountains - they are the highest coastal range in the world, over 5,600 ft, they're there every time you look up, layer on layer, like cut out papers laid on top of each other. It does mean that we have katabatic winds tumbling down on us, filling the boat with dust, but their beauty makes it worth it.


Along the sea front and on the main streets there are so many stalls it's hard to get along them. Street food is everywhere: fresh lemonade or mandarin-ade, soursop with milk and ice, kebabs or rice cooked with chicken in palm leaf packets, corn on the cob, sausage and yucca, fresh local cheese, grilled, and corn mean fritters with eggs inside them.

Spike enjoying street food with fellow cruisers.

Along the back streets everything quietens down. The cafes and restaurants spill out into the pavements, children enjoy the evening air in the plazas along with their parents. We hardly ever see push chairs, mostly little ones are simply carried on people's chests - but then again the main form of transport is motorbike, the passenger just holds the baby against themselves, mothers and fathers alike. 

   

Hardly anyone speaks English, so we're having to get good at Spanish quickly! But this country draws you in, makes you want to communicate with the friendly local people, to understand it and them better. What we see here is a bustling thriving town, but it's also a holiday destination, both for the Colombians themselves and for the small cruise ships that dock here. There's a sense of a land waiting to be explored. When we've gone around the world we'd like to come back here, find a safe place to leave Lochmarin, get two motorbikes and follows the roads that climb over these mountains, seek the treasure within this country. But that would be a on different blog and for another time. 

Santa Marta Marina. We've got the blue awning up, in the middle of this picture. These were taken by Mike on Conari - a friend took him up in a helicopter! 



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