12 November 2014 - Santa Marta, Colombia
OK, another couple of weeks in Colombia. We are definitely acclimatized to our surroundings by now and I’ve got some boat projects underway.
First, a little history - The Spanish first arrived in Colombia in 1499 and New Granada (Colombia) won independence from Spain in 1819. Venezuela and Ecuador left in 1830 and the “United States of Colombia” was formed in 1863. This led to the Republic of Colombia in 1886 (nearly its present form). Panama seceded in 1903, leaving the country as we know it now. As a follow-up to our trek to the Lost City, we’ve been to the Museo Del Oro (Museum of Gold) TAIRONA - which has a free entrance. This is a really nice museum, in air conditioned comfort, where we saw some of the artifacts of the Lost City.
Prior to arriving in Colombia, I was well aware of the events in recent history (through the 1960s and peaking in the 1990s) where Colombia became a world leader in the production and distribution of cocaine, and also the para-military groups that had come to control this industry. In very recent times, Colombia used to be a very dangerous place and in addition to murder, many tourists have been kidnapped and held for large ransom. Those incidents diminished greatly starting in 2002 and Colombia has made great strides in clamping down on this lawless behaviour and is now working on raising its tourist profile.
Colombia is known as the second most mega-diverse country in bio-diversity, ranking behind Brazil which is nearly seven times larger in surface area. As for plants, the country has approximately 45,000 plant species, equivalent to nearly 20% of total global species. Colombia has about 2,000 species of marine fish and is the second most diverse country in freshwater fish. They also have more endemic species (species not found anywhere else) of butterflies, number 1 in terms of orchid species and approximately 7,000 species of beetles. Colombia is second in the number of amphibian species and is the third most diverse country in reptiles and palms. There are about 2,900 species of mollusks and according to estimates there are about 300,000 species of invertebrates in the country.
Colombia is rich in natural resources, and its main exports include mineral fuels, oils, distillation products, precious stones (emeralds), forest products, flowers (70% of cut flowers imported by the United States are from Colombia), pulp and paper, coffee, meat, cereals and vegetable oils, cotton, oilseed, sugars and sugar confectionery, fruit and other agricultural products, food processing, processed fish products, beverages, machinery, electronics, military products, aircraft, ships, motor vehicles, metal products, ferro-alloys, home and office material, chemicals and health related products, petrochemicals, agrochemicals, inorganic salts and acids, perfumery and cosmetics, medicaments, plastics, animal fibres, textile and fabrics, clothing and footwear, leather, construction equipment and materials, cement, and software. I’ve read that the export of coal has overtaken the export of bananas to the UK, where they stopped mining their own coal during Margaret Thatcher’s time.
Nowadays, you can get just about anything you want in the local market. How about some nice eyeballs? I wonder whether these are intended to be fried, or boiled?
At Exito, our favourite grocery store, we can buy milk in a bag. Somewhere, I read that bagged milk originated in Canada - but I’ve never seen it in any other country. Here, we can even get UHT bagged milk!
On the street just in front of Exito, if you’re hungry, you can get some grilled sausages - right away. These look mouth-watering….
As we walk around the downtown core, there are many small streets, restaurants, cafes and speciality shops. How about this motorbike shoe advertisement? Normally, he’s driving around town, but this time we caught him parked right in front of the shop he advertises for.
Here’s something new. We’ve now been in the marina (the International Marina, I might add) for nearly 5 weeks. Every afternoon, about every 15 minutes, any day of the week, these local tour boats drive into the marina with a load of Colombian tourists, who are all rubber-necking to see the glitz and glamour of the exciting life that we lead. No shit. These people actually pay money to take a mini-harbour tour, the bulk of which occurs inside the marina, so that they can have a glimpse of us sitting in the cockpit living the life of a rockstar!
I’ve finally started working on “replacing the transom locker doors”. When I first put these doors in place in 1994, I stupidly welded the stainless steel piano hinge to both the transom and the door. It was not possible to weld all the way around the hinges as the hinge would bind. This trapped bare steel inside that eventually started to rust. I’ve been fighting a losing battle with this rust for the past 6 years, so I finally decided to do something about it. When in Canada this summer, I bought 4 replacement stainless steel hinges, and last week I contracted with a local guy to manufacture 2 new doors for me, out of lighter fibreglass. The doors arrived yesterday, but had to be taken back for some fine tuning. I’ve managed to cut the doors off and am working on cleaning up the steel around the frame. Phosphoric acid and epoxy will do wonders with that rust. In a week or so, it should all be finished - and at dock, not while on the hard!
We’ve been to see the Dentist. After nearly two years, we figured it was time for a checkup, repairs as necessary - and cleaning. We went to the office of Paola Zuniga, and Cecelia was our Dentist. The office is only about an 8 minute walk from the boat, and our Dentist spoke fair English and had a gentle manner. With the first appointment, Diane had a checkup and a cleaning, for about $ 50US. I had a checkup and filling repair (one that was originally done in Trinidad) for about $ 125. Why have we had our teeth checked, repaired and cleaned in the Dominican Republic (2010), Grenada (2011), Trinidad (2012) and now here in Colombia (2014) — and not in Canada? Its simple, we have no dental plan and its bloody expensive in Canada. Sure, as I was leaving the military, I could have signed up for the group dental plan, but I believe it would be a real nuisance to administer from a distance in the countries we visit. The other thing is that I don’t think its good value for money. Lastly, if we left our dental care to take care of when we’re in Canada, it would add additional pressure to an already short visit.
To see previous log entries, just use the tab at the top.
SV Joana is listed for sale at this site (in case you're wondering why, we're not planning to give up the cruising lifestyle or our home, but most things are for sale and since we've met many cruisers who have listed their boat, we figured we'd do it too).
Countries Visited: (Departed Canada: May 2009)
Antigua: May 2011
Bermuda: June - August 2009
Bonaire: February - April 2014
Bahamas: December 2009 - March 2010, December 2010 - February 2011
Barbados: March 2012
British Virgin Islands: May 2011
Colombia: Oct 2014 -
Cuba: March - May 2010
Curaçao: May 2014 - September 2014
Dominica: May 2011, April 2013
Dominican Republic: March - April 2011
Grenada: June-November 2011
Guadeloupe: March 2013
Martinique: March 2012, March 2013
Puerto Rico: April 2011
St Lucia: May-June 2011, December 2011 - February 2012, December 2012 - February 2013
St Martin /Netherlands Antilles: May 2011
St Vincent and the Grenadines: June 2011, February 2012, December 2012, April-May 2013
Tobago: March-May 2012
Trinidad: May - December 2012, June - November 2013
USA: August - November 2009, June - November 2010
US Virgin Islands: May 2011
Venezuela: November 2013 - February 2014