Sailing and Spanish!

Cartagena is inspirational. The colors and architecture. The energy and beauty of the people. The history and diversity. It’s hard to place, but it’s palpable.

Most of the hostels I have stayed at have been excellent and full of colorful and unique characters. Many of whom were outstandingly worldly and educated. This is certainly not the current situation at the North Star Backpacker’s hostel. The hostel itself is fine and the staff are incredible, but this place is filled with a bunch of boobs who want to sit inside all day  drinking beer and watching TV. Anyways, after making the mistake of tagging along for a meal and nauseatingly ignorant conversation last night, it has provided inspiration to get out and do my own thing.

I left my hostel this morning at 8:15 and had a delicious fruit salad for $.50 on the beach. I walked around the hotel district for about an hour before ending up at a bakery which had been recommended to me by my hostel staff for its coffee. I had my first cup of Colombian coffee, accompanied by a cheese-filled pastry! It lived up to the hype.

I was hoping to sail to Panama via the San Blas Islands, so I walked to the club nautico marina and started talking to some captains. I spoke with a bunch of people and couldn’t find anyone leaving this week, until I met Maria and got signed up to disembark with her tomorrow! We are going to spend five days island hopping in the San Blas en-route to Panama! I am going to learn to sail and practice my Spanish! Epic.

After introductions and formalities, they put me straight to work and I helped prep the sail for tomorrow. I sailed a lot with my grandparents as a child, but I didn’t pay enough attention and am nowhere close to self sufficient on a ship. Learning to sail is something I have wanted to do for the last few years, so I am going to absorb as much as I can.

On my way to the marina, I had walked by a small little open-air blue shack that called itself a restaurant. It caught my eye because it didn’t have a menu and was one of the only spots that already had customers at 11:00. I was compelled and stopped there for lunch. The place was packed, and after talking to a few locals, I learned that almost everyone there worked on the ships in the local marinas. The place has a fixed daily multi-course menu that costs $1.70. My first course was a limey soup with yucca, fish parts and some other vegetables. Second course was beef with a green  coconut rice and bean curry. A couple plantains were served on the side. They also served me a drink with a small amount of rum, some juice and water. I disobeyed my grandmother’s strict warnings and couldn’t resist drinking the whole thing. I gradually weened myself onto South American water and have been drinking everything, everywhere for the last two weeks. I think my system has adapted and I haven’t had even a slight problem.

I walked up to a fort that overlooks the city. It was complete with a maze of tunnels and a barrage of cannons. It exceeded expectations. I spent the rest of the afternoon walking around the Spanish Colonial downtown. The whole city is very touristy, but for some reason it doesn’t bother me the same way as in Cusco. The highlight of my afternoon was finding a street vendor who was selling old textbooks from the ’50s to ’70s. I have been craving something mathematical, so I was ecstatic when I found an excellent probability text, and one on space-based communications. Something to keep me occupied en-route to Panama!

I will update you all from Panama in approximately six days.

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One Response to “Sailing and Spanish!”

  1. Boris Says:

    Hey Shaun!!!!!

    Your adventures in Cartagena are inspiring. I hope the sailing voyage is amazing and that you do get a chance to stay sharp on the probability. I miss you and I wish you were here to tear into some martingale theory with me.

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