Saturday, March 13, 2010

Taboga Island in Panama

Being ready to leave Panama we had to wait for the proper wind window to start the 6 or 7 day crossing to the Galapagos Islands. For this we decided to move south to the Las Perlas archipelago, which we were told are very nice islands and an ideal place to stage ourselves for the crossing. We were all pumped up and knew that the boat was ready and us too. But when I raised the anchor I hear a weird noise when the anchor, which usually sets itself nice and straight in its roller, blocked the chain. I turn to look at it and couldn’t believe what I saw. I mean, look at the picture and how in the world can an anchor wrap itself like this? I couldn’t do that even if I wanted. I asked Danielle to hold the boat in position while I lower the anchor in the water and try to untangle it. Using the mooring hook and a lot of muscles since the anchor weights 55lbs and it is definitively not the best working position I finally manage to turn it on itself and get it straight on its chain so I can raise it properly. This was not really a big deal but it shows how weird things happen on a sailboat at the moment you expect it the least. We were just hoping this wouldn’t be a warning for our passage to come!
Our first stop after leaving Panama City was the island of Taboga, which is not really part of the Las Perlas per say but that’s not really important here. We had stopped there a couple weeks ago but stayed only one night and didn’t go ashore even though the village, which is apparently the oldest village that was not previously destroyed in one way or another in Panama, looked very inviting. This time we knew that we wouldn’t have a proper window to leave before many days and we didn’t want to miss the opportunity to see it. The owner of the mooring balls in front of the village told us that there were many paths we could walk on the island and one of them leads to this cross on top of that hill. Danielle said, let’s go climb to the top and see what it looks like

So we took our backpack and walking shoes and set ourselves to climb to this cross that a navigator who was once in trouble promise God to erect a cross for him should he make it to the island. Well apparently he made it because the cross is there now! We started our little trek with what seems to be one of the very few roads in the village since the access to all other houses seems to be through pathways that can only be travelled by foot. As you can see on the pictures the road is really not wide even though this is a two way road!

As we followed the trail to the cross the path became much wilder and it was quite interesting to walk through this Central American vegetation, where apparently live scorpions and snakes according to the mooring ball owner. But beside a few deadly critters there were also nice butterflies and birds we don’t see quite often. It was the morning but still the temperature under the sun was unbearable and thanks to Danielle we had brought plenty of water to drink along the way.
Getting to the top of the hill took us a bit more than an hour, not a very long walk when you think about it, but again the heat and humidity of Central America takes rapidly its toll on Canadians like us used to dry and cool air! The view at the top of the hill was very impressive. The island being only 7 miles south of Panama City you can see in the background of my picture all the large cargo ships anchored in the vicinity of the entrance of the canal waiting for their crossing time. As I said already we brought plenty of water and drank it all while the whole walk took about two hours. But somehow later in the day we both had huge headaches probably caused by some sort of heat stroke or something. I am really not joking when I say that the sun is not something to underestimate down here. The next day we left Taboga and hopped on two other islands in the Las Perlas before finally getting our weather window to cross to the Galapagos.