Sapzurro – Day 2 : beach and sunburns

Today is beach day!

First, we took a not very nice breakfast. Clearly, the local pastries were not from this morning (nor yesterday’s, for that matter). We were quite surprised to see many people already (or still) drunk at 9am, sipping some beer as breakfast. Maybe it’s because of the fiesta, but it seemed more like habit.

Well, that didn’t bother us, at least we were alone at the beach to do some snorkeling (it’s really a weird word, don’t you think?). So, we spend part of the morning and early afternoon exploring the coast underwater. We saw lots of fishes and some corals! It had rained a lot last night, so visibility wasn’t great, but the corals are like less than 2m under water, which is amazing!

We also saw some nice fishes (well mostly small fries, but still very nice). We even swam in the middle of shoals of tiny fishes swimming in total sync. It actually took us some time to understand the big orange rocks were corals. Here they’re very orange, a bit round and very pumpkin looking (well, the giant pumpkin fare ones). Coming across them in the middle of some algae is quite startling at first!

As we’re so gringos (and also because the best hour for snorkeling is around noon), we managed to get some sunburns (I swear Mom, I put sunscreen on, but it wasn’t enough!). Well, the sunburns are not huge, and it’s a change from the traveler’s tan (you know, the one that stops at the T-shirt!).

Before lunch we sought out the boat “captain“ that brought us here yesterday, because he said he might be able to get us across to Panama tomorrow. He confirmed he could take us tomorrow around 1pm, but as he was quite drunk, we’ll still look for him in the morning to make sure he doesn’t forget!

The almuerzo here is quite expensive, around 17000 (compared to the 7000 in south Colombia). But we met a cool German couple at the restaurant. So, we spent the afternoon lazing on the beach while training our German (great, as if we’re not doing enough linguistical gymnastic these days…). Right now, it’s nightfall, so we hurry to write the blog and charge the computer and phones before the electricity runs out!

If everything goes according to plan (as it always goes, of course :p ), we should take a boat from Puerto Obaldia to the San Blas islands Tuesday and stay there a couple days before going to Panama City (the exact number of days depends on how much is costs, as we won’t see an ATM until we reach Panama City).

As we already don’t have lightning fast internet here, we probably won’t have one in Puerto Obaldia and for sure won’t have one in the San Blas islands. So don’t worry if the blog is dead for a couple days.

That’s all for today (for this post too we’ll upload the picture whenever we get some real internet 😉 ). See you later, alligator!

Sapzurro – Day 1 : borders and coconuts

EDITO : since the internet is so weak here, we’re posting both yesterday and today’s posts now, but their pictures will arrive later ! We would also like to remind those of you who want to stay up to date without checking everyday (and these days are irregular) that you can subscribe at the bottom of the page. We also advise you to add us to your contact list with aliceetben@protonmail.com so we won’t end up in the spam folder !

Today was the beginning of tropical paradise postcards moments.

Capurgana wasn’t as cool as we expected, we could neither get access to the internet nor withdraw any cash. We knew there wasn’t any ATM but had read that we could pay in some hotels with a card in exchange for cash, we thought we could finish preparing our trip to San Blas like this. Turns out we couldn’t, we even got rudely told off in the hotel we asked and found nothing else, so we changed most our pesos for dollars (for the border ahead) and planned with what we have.

In the end, it isn’t so bad, maybe we won’t spend 3 days in San Blas, but 2 should do it! Then we left our lovely but expensive hostel in the woods, took care of administrative formalities and took a boat to Sapzurro, 3 km away, on the other side of a small wood-covered peninsula. Since we had been disappointed in Capurgana, we didn’t expect much, and we were surprised: it is much prettier, quieter and nicer altogether. We left our bags in the Chilean’s hostel (that’s the name of the hostel, and his as well, everyone knows him around here) and left for La Miel, a bit further on the coast.

La Miel is THE beach around here, the place to be, with fine white sand in a bay with corals, coconut trees and pretty fish. There was also some loud music and a few people, but it was probably worth the hassle. The hassle is the 30-minutes walk in the forest to go up and down the 77 meters hill with stairs and go through the mini customs office at the top, because the beach and its hamlet are in Panama! So, we just showed our passports, the real stamp will be further, because La Miel is anyway unreachable from Panama without a boat so we wouldn’t have illegally immigrated anywhere.

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Speaking of immigration, we got stamped out of Colombia in Capurgana, because that’s where the office is. But since it is really inconvenient, being 45 km away from Puerto Obaldia with the Panama immigration office, we are allowed 3 days to cross the border, which means we have to have been stamped in Panama before Tuesday. According to our passports, we are today, in the eye of the administration, in limbo (or in France).

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Let’s go back to the beach. We swam, the water here is slightly below body temperature, so it’s refreshing but really easy to go in. We saw (without any gear) tiny colorful fishes, we cut our feet (nothing bad) and dried out in the sun! We drank coconut water straight from the source and encountered a very nice Colombian family on vacation.

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On the way back, we observed many tiny orange and blue crabs, digging their homes in the sand on and around the trail, but also in gardens and under houses. It’s a shame they can’t be eaten, cause with their numbers, they would make quite a soup!

We ended the day’s adventures sitting on a wooden pier, looking at the waves and boats while the sun set and the harbor’s empty hall played loud tropical music, very cliché, very funny.

Tonight, we are eating pasta to fit the budget, and tomorrow we will snorkel because diving is expensive and we are poor these days, but we are very happy! X

Capurgana – Day 1 : boats and swimming

Tonight, we’re in Capurgana (go see the fucking map widget we’re always talking about!). To get there, we did our longest trip yet (aside from the transatlantic plane, evidently…).

Yesterday we took the night bus at 11pm in Santa Fe (or rather 11:30 pm including the delay), wo we arrived at Necocli in the early morning, around 6:30am. The bus was probably one of the best we’ve had yet. We might not have had the most wonderful sleep, but compared to what we’re used to travel in here, this one was big and comfy, with USB plugs for charging and even a good AC. Well, a too good AC, as it was probably set to the freezer option. But we had already encountered this problem before, so we came prepared: we had our jackets with us when we boarded (even though it was 25°C in Santa Fe!).

Necocli is a small coastal town, not particularly ugly but not very beautiful either. But it is where the lancha for Capurgana departs (another goes from Turbo, which saves you bus time, bus it’s much slower). So besides eating a small breakfast, buying the boat ticket and changing some dollars (for Panama), we mostly waited until it was time to go (theoretically 9:30am, but with delay 9:45).

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Sunrise over Necocli’s port

We were the last ones to enter the lancha so we got lucky, we got the back seats. The front seats are way bumpier! In the lancha (which, by the way, is a small boat in which you can squeeze up to 70 people) we looked at the sea, but after a while it was boring so we mostly slept (the trip took over 1h30).

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A bit of fresh salty air !

Once in Capurgana, we decided to start searching for our accommodation. That’s when we discovered a slight problem in our plan: this weekend it’s fiesta in town to honor some local specie of snails (can’t remember the name, do your own goddamn research!). So, it’s loud “music” everywhere (I’m open to many styles of music, but this ain’t music, it’s the usual shitty summer disco pop soup, but in Spanish!). Add to that the fact that Monday is vacation day for the Colombians (so hordes of them are coming on the coast this weekend), and you understand our problem regarding finding a place to stay for tonight.

Fortunately, we remembered the name of a hostel that was supposed to be a bit out of town. We we’re just on our way there when a local taxi (so a horse and a two-wheeled cart) proposed to take us there. We had the good idea to say yes, because the two-wheeled cart might be jumpy, but at least it kept us dry when we had to cross several rivers created by yesterday and last night’s heavy rains.

The hostel itself is quite charming, set in the middle of the jungle, far away from the loud music of the town. And there are lots of animals here! In a couple hours we managed to see many birds, some lizards, monkeys, iguanas and even a basilisc (sadly not the harry potter thing, but a funny little four legged animal 😉). We were in luck, the hostel had one room left (not the best room we’ve had, but sufficient for now and the surroundings are really cool).

In the mid-afternoon we went to the beach near the hostel to bathe for a while and tan a bit. It’s a bit weird for us to tan at the beach after all these days spent in the Andes mountains. After this we essentially spent the rest of the afternoon in hammocks watching TV shows (we do need to rest a bit sometimes!). This evening we ate dinner at the hostel with a nice Columbian family here for the week-end.

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The beach near the hostel

That’s all for tonight, more news in the next post.

P.S: In Capurgana there is no 24h electricity and finding an internet connection can be complicated, so of course at the hostel in the middle of the jungle we don’t have internet (but we do have electricity several hours a day, phew!). That’s why this article will be published whenever we can.