Location: Colon, Panama
I know I speak on behalf of everyone when I say that I would have been pleased as pie to spend more time in the little slice of untouched paradise known as the San Blas Islands. In a part of the world where no cars or airplanes go — because an entire island is the size of some backyards — we experienced beautiful handcrafted molas created by the interesting and friendly Kuna people (one of the last truly preserved indigenous cultures), swinging from the boat’s boom into perfectly warm, turquoise waters, and an Argo family BBQ. Some of us would have been happy to never leave. Alas, we were all up and on deck for a yawn-inducing 4 am departure. Sleepy-eyed, we pulled up our anchor and motored off into the darkness knowing that we were leaving a very special place, but that many more great adventures are still ahead of us. Our passage was a quick one, only about 12 hours in total, but we still enjoyed a few of the unique familiarities only a passage can offer: A huge bowl of cereal at sunrise (something we all look forward to like nothing else), some interesting bow watch conversations, and yes, a few moments of nausea. After curry chicken for lunch, and a couple of classes, we were surrounded by dozens of huge cargo ships, signaling our near arrival to Colon, Panama. Maneuvering through a narrow passage to the dock, we found the draught of Argo caught up on the muddy bottom, and were apparently worthy of spectators and videotaping as we lollygagged (all 20 of us plus four staff members running back and forth across the boat in unison) to free her. Although I’m sure we looked rather silly to the rest of the dock, I am personally satisfied with the humor and enjoyment we all got out of the incident. Now that we’re no longer in our own little world, it’s back to internet, coffee, and ice cream sundaes from restaurants for us while we spend the next few days waiting for the OK to cross through the Panama Canal.