Rosarios and Cholon 10:09.72N 75:39.70W

Pacific Bliss
Colin Price
Wed 8 Sep 2010 16:57
Islas Rosarios and Bahia de Cholon
Having got to South America life seem far more interesting, musical and colourful.  It didn't really occur to us that we would be spending time in South America,but now we have had a taste for it we have extended our trip to include mainland Equador,  which i have to say I am totally thrilled about.  The music and sounds of Categena have been my favourite thing about our time here, So very different to Europe and the US and the Carribean.  Throughout our trip the ubiuquitous 'Party Boat' full of drunk touristas seems to be a theme,  which whilst often amusing, with the crass sounds of western music blasting out, keeps us awake most weekend evenings and nights and this does start to wear thin.  In Bonair the Bikers Club which seemed to wind up at about 3am to include the rev-along AC-DC night every weekend was quite something.  But now in South America the music and sounds are altogether new and refreshing.  In a country were there is no social service everyone sells something it seems, whether it's the ample bottomed fruit seller pushing there rickety carts through the street,  shouting there immenent arrival,  or the ding a'ling of the ice-cream cart coming down the road,  you know who is coming even if your busy cleaning the decks 200meters away.   We loved being in a City once again. I finally fullfilled a life time desire by becaming a lady who lunches.   This is due to lunch for the family being 10,000 Peso the equivelent to £3.  So other than boiling some porridge for breakfast and an egg for supper the head chef has been on holiday.

We left Cartagena a week ago now and have been hanging out on a small island just off the main land,  Islas Rosarios.  We exited along with the big boats through the main shipping channel, Boca Chica.
Islas Rosarios is a collection of small islands about 15nm South of Cartegena with a rather mixed identity.  The entire coast line is given over to large houses,a bit like the Bosham, and to that ends it is Columbia's version of Bosham, ie all of the houses are owned by the wealthy of the country.  However a good 50% are in a state of Dereliction and having circumnavigated the island with our dingy and 3.5 horsepower engine (very slow) we met a few of the home owners.  These guys where pretty flash, allegidly ex presidents sons, distributers of Sony  and crocs in the country etc. etc.  But the bottom line is a lot of the wealthy houses where owned by the narcotics traders and now things are abit more accountable houses have been disowned and abandoned.  Being a little unusual, British and having kids on board rather than anything obviously odd.  We get invited places and ended us having drinks in one of the houses.  The Wife a Columbian from what seems like an old rich family like the ones in Marques's novels and her Dutch husband with a rather odd shade of strawberry hair.  They were holding a buisness meeting weekend with combination of fellow utch/german/southamerican friends,  call me suspicious but Nazi connections sprung to mind,  I suspect having blond haired blue eyed kids aboard helped with the invite...................  But you do see stuff.
The juxtapoistion between old and new is right there.  Dugouts with a background of skyscrapers  

The interior of the Island was a very very different affair,  the houses made our rat infested shed at home look like a palace. Colin was in search of the town but I think we standing in the middle of it.  The decaying School seemed like the Catholic Church forgot it decades ago and all the local kids looked really very 'rangy' with sets of eyes looking in opposite directions. The most peculiar and wonderful thing we found on the island was an aviary, This can only have been some rich hobbiest ornatholagiests dream. The birds were kept in wonderful conditions.  We had hopped over to the Nazi's house to say we would love to come to drinks pre lunch but first we wanted to visit the aviary,  so we where given a guide who lead the way through single track dirt paths,  the only tracks or forms of road around the interior of the island,  despite the wealth on the fringes of the island this is poor. There is no running water, sanitation or electricity and no obvious generators either.  The island had a definite Sunday morning feeling to it,  with cooking fires just being re-stoked and folk lathering up in the middle of the yard and with bucket of water being thrown over there heads. The night before we had a very sleepless night as a thunder and lightning
show decided to give us a display over our heads.  Flash-to-bang, zero seconds!  So whilst it was a little bit too exciting for us with a mast, the locals looked like washing day had come early.  I think the barbed wire washing line will hold true to be the most unusual I'll ever see.   Anyway back to the aviary,  we found the place by walking through somebody back yard, with our guide,  and then over a crumbling wall,  this is no obvious tourist destination.  There must have been about 50 large bird houses,  with max of 20 birds in each.  the collection ranged from  weaver birds, parrots, falcons, pheasants, owls, tocaans, herrons and emus.  Plus weired and wonderful stuff we couldn't identify.
I hate leaving places but the time had come to make our short hop across to Cholon,  weather not looking ideal but a bit of rain doesn't always spell desarster when at sea.  But the channel into Cholon is unknown to us and we're a little unclear if you can trust the channel markers,  especially when you discover they are mostly submerged, and you wouldn't want to miss them as there is plenty of coral around.
 This was our chart for navigation.  Pretty hairy.
Once in it's a lovely peaceful, calm anchorage with great holding something you don't get in Cartagena,  So we can rest easy here.  We have arrived to hear there will be a happy hour on an old Shrimper, Manetea, moored in the Bay,  it's a bit of a celebrity boat, it's owned by an ex LAPD motorbike cop turned cruiser turned local resident and looked after and run as social area for the cruisers here.  But sadly after the announcement on the VHF net about a happy hour,  it got cancelled by Johnny the boy who runs the ship as it was suspected that he had forgottne to get any ice.  Z and I are able to pursued Colin into inviting the four other boats in the bay for a BYO happy hour on PB which turns out to be great as we meet our new next door neighbours,  and again they are lovley, kind, helpful and good company.  How do you say Colombian-o-file? I am certainly becoming one.
Not much happens here other than the afew guys in dug outs unable to take no for an answer....  But then we take a trip to see the local town,  it's not your average trip into town,  and luckily for us Colin has got afew way points to navigate our way through the mangroves and reefs,  we find the roads paved with shells and coral, but really they are just hard standing over the mud.  It's our first sight of normal life in Columbia.  The village, Baru, must have had it's hay day during the 1930's as the architecture that dates back to then looks prosperous but now it's all falling in to a state of disrepar, with donkeys, rangie dogs and Pigs foriaging the streets, and back water mangroves.  The kids are certainly seeing the world.
 Mangrove passage on the way to Baru.  
Sorrel house by the sea.
 Downtown Baru    
Our first experience with getting deisel. No more petrol station nozzles.  Here the fuel is poured from a large can into a bucket or used 1gallon water jugs and then into our cans. 
Its done like this everywhere we go now.
We moved back over to the main land two days ago, to a lovely safe,  stable anchorage,  where the kids were able to drop their Optimist in the water and sail around the bay, it's perfect conditions,  Z started at 7am yesterday before breakfast and the minute her cereal had been downed she jumped back on saying she was going to sail all day and not come back to do school,  as it was Saturday, it seemed like a pretty good idea to us.  When we left the UK Zinnia was really rather shy,  she certainly wouldn't ask for something at a restaurant,  She always got Cosmo to be the mouth piece. Yesterday  we where able to see the transformation.  When she sailed up to other boats to say hello, and step aboard for a chat  (none of the other cruisers here have kids aboard)  but Z appearances on boats yesterday seemed capture peoples hearts.  Pretty cool have your own independant form of transport to get away from your family, aged 8.
We are finding it hard moving on from places at the moment, the pace of life really has slowed to a sluggish rate,  suspect the size of my thighs will increase too due to our chilled out life style.  In the next week we should reach Panama and the San Blas Islands,  we are anticipating taking this part of the journey very very slowly,  it's very remote to travelers the only access to a lot of these places is only by sea so we are expected to see a very strong cultural tribe,  We have to ask each village chief if we are able to anchor near his village and he is expected to only let you stay a few day,  with only a few boats visiting per year the inhabitants and chiefs and keen to keep it isolated.

Must go now got to start cooking Scones for our Sunday afternoon tea visitors all the way from Dundee (Kate and DJ from s/v Hello World)
Then it's anchors up and off to yet another island ever nearer to Panama.