Nov 05

San Andres, Colombia

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The many places that we visit, the deciding factor to leave comes down to one thing, It’s time to move on. The last few days are spent readying Mistress, working on all the systems, which makes them quite tiring. The last night is spent  tossing and turning, trying to get some sleep, anxious to get going.

The winds were forecast to be light, with the possibility of rain over the 212 nautical mile trip. Getting away from the coast of Panama, the waves settled to around 3 ft. It was a bit uncomfortable due to the fact that we hadn’t sailed in almost a year.

We did manage to miss most of the storms, but had one pour down on us for more than an hour, our old raincoats weren’t much help, but kept us warm.

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We had calculated to arrive early in the morning, thinking to spend 2 full days at sea, travelling around 5 knots. Mistress sailed along,  pushed by the current, faster than we thought , making landfall in the dark, 11:30 pm.

This has got to be one of the most confusing harbours to enter at night. In the dark we could not make out anything, only guided in by the chartplotter. We were well inside the harbour before we could recognize buildings on shore.

When we were slowing  down getting ready to anchor the motor would not react, the linkage had come disconnected. We drifted along, narrowly missing a huge ship with no lights, before quickly dropping the anchor. We Arrived, it was now 2:00 am.


The culture in the islands have their origin in the mix of the African and European traditions Spanish and Creole { Bende or Carbeau English used by Raizales} are the native tongues., although most of the people of the island speak English.

Calypso, Reggae, Polka, Waltz, Mento, Schottist and Mazurca are the main music genres visitors can hear around the islands.

Architecture is of note as the are colorful and vivid. The diversity of the touristy attractions, hotels and the beautiful landscapes invite visitors to know the islands and have an amazing stay.

The south winds or hurricanes which cause serious problems to some islands and cruisers., are strange to these islands as the are located on the southeast of the Caribbean Sea basin. The archipelago is considered a good shelter from winds.

Many cruisers who arrive in San Andres or Providencia, come from Honduras, Guatemala ,{ Rio Dulce}, Panama, and other places in the Caribbean Sea.

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The next  day, we were invited by our friends, from Linton Bay Marina, Iris and Carl Meredith, who were here celebrating their 9th anniversary to tour the island. We spent the day driving completely around, stopping for a great lunch at one of the seaside restaurants.


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After the whole day at the beach, and tired from the sun, our anchor decided to drag across the Bay. A French Canadian couple came out to visit us, and as they were leaving, actually they got scared away by a storm cloud, the bow of the boat swung around. I quickly went to the front to have a look, and could see the anchor skipping across the bottom. Returning to the cockpit and attempting to start the engine, we were handed our second problem……Won’t start. Calling the marina, and Coast Guard, problem number three……No answer.  Luckily there were 2 small fishing boats near by that noticed our problem, and came to our assistance. Both boats had only 15 hp. motors but they were willing to help us re- anchor. With the wind pushing us they gave it their best, urged by a large fishing boat it was decided to tie up along side them. We found out that they had a mechanic onboard who would look at our engine. He quickly found a corroded connection, cleaned it and repaired. Next he looked at a small problem we have had for awhile, the button to Stop the engine. We have been taking the cover off the engine and manually pushing the solenoid to shut it down.


After spending about 1 1/2  hours, we now have a new stop switch installed. Touching the 2 wires together and holding them, will shut the engine off.  Works!!!



We are the showcase of the main town dock.

Oct 04

Back in Santa Marta, 2017

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We are back in Santa Marta, after a long summer with our family and friends. Wished we could have spent more time with each and everyone of you, but we had a lot to deal with. From the birth of a Grand-Son to the loss of a Parent, all I can say is, we had our hands full.

We had been worried about Mistress, our home, since the middle of the summer. We couldn’t get in contact with the marina, which only added to the stress. Friends here checked on her and reported that she was doing well, and looked good from the outside.

After a comfortable flight, even carried by Avianca crew, who were on strike, we arrived back at the marina early in the evening. It had been raining, the humidity around 80%, we will need to acclimatize once again. 

The strong sun has burnt the bright work, dust everywhere including inside the cabin, we need to clean…….Stem to Stern…….but first, clear a spot to sleep.  Tomorrow.

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We did have a couple of residents move in while we were gone, a crab, and some type of animal that just left a mess. Both have moved on. We also had a can of beer, that we been stowing since we started this journey to offer to King Neptune. Sadly, it exploded in the heat.

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Seems like the local grocery store knew we were coming, it was decorated, and stocked up with beer and skids of eggs ( something I always find funny, unrefrigerated).

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Nice to be back, now the task of getting ready to sail toward the San Blas Islands, and to mainland Panama.

May 12

Carnival 2017, Barranquilla, Colombia

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The Carnival of Barranquilla is without a doubt the most famous and internationally recognized event in Colombia. Eagerly awaited by the Colombians and all the people that want to discover and enjoy a cultural and folkloric event, the visiting crowd will encounter  activities and parades full of cultural diversity, happiness, joy and of course music. The Carnival of Barranquilla is the third biggest Carnival after the one of Rio de Janeiro and Venice. Every year, the Carnival begins 4 days before the Holy Wednesday while the most important day takes place on Saturday with the famous battle of flowers. During the battle, afro-indigenous dancers dance el Torito, el Diablo, la Conga (Congolese tango) and the Pilanderas. The event finishes with the symbolic funeral of “Joselito Carnival”.

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To get into the true spirit of Carnival, you must dress in party clothes, it also might save you from being foamed ……..Gringo.!!! 

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While Barranquilla’s carnaval may lack the publicity of it’s Brazilian cousin, it’s known to be just as spectacular. The Colombian carnaval takes place 40 days before Easter, this years carnaval takes place from February 25th-28th, 2017.

Starting as a muddle of pagan, catholic, and other ethnic festivities, it has come a long way from it’s humble roots. The Barranquilla carnaval is currently the second largest carnival in the world drawing over 500,000 visitors every year.

It has been declared by UNESCO to be a Masterpiece of Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity. For those travelers who aren’t convinced by those impressive facts the bold slogan should change your mind, “Quien lo vive, es quien lo goza” (Those who live are those who enjoy it).


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People of all ages participate in Parade.

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The Greatest Party.

Also visit us on Youtube….Tutty Lee


Apr 11

Bucaramanga, Parque National del Chicamocha

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We took the bus out of a small bus station in San Gil, to an area known to have similarities to the Grand Canyon, in the U.S.. Parque Nacional del Chicamocha opened in 2006, from it’s 360o look out,  provides views of the majestic canyon. We chose to take the teleferico (cable car), 6.3 km which descends to the base of the canyon, then ascends to the top of the opposite rim, Mesaa de los Santos. The ride takes 22 minute, one way. They also offer paragliding for those that want to soar over the canyon below.  

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After lunch, everything closes for lunch, we caught the first cable car so we could spend some time in the waterpark to cool off. It was the middle of the week, but I’m sure, on week ends this place is packed.


After a relaxing afternoon, a lady that works in the ticket booth went out to the highway, and flagged down a passing bus., We needed to travel into the city of Bucaramanga , where we could get a bus back to Santa Marta. Our land excursion coming to an end. 

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Mar 24

Villa de Leyva, Colombia

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One of the most beautiful colonial towns in all of Colombia, is Villa de Leyva. With it’s cobblestone roads and whitewashed buildings, is a photographers dream.

Founded in 1572, it seems to be frozen in time, when it was originally a retreat for military officers, clergy, and nobility. The Tele-novela ( soap opera) Zorro: La Espalda y La Rosa was filmed here, bringing publicity to the city.

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After walking through the town we rented bikes to tour the countryside.


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Mar 14

Ciudad Perdida ( The Lost City)

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Ciudad Perdida (Spanish for “Lost City”) is the archaeological site of an ancient city in Colombia‘s Sierra Nevada. It is believed to have been founded about 800 CE, some 650 years earlier than Machu Picchu. This location is also known as Teyuna and Buritaca.



Ciudad Perdida was discovered in 1972, when a group of local treasure looters found a series of stone steps rising up the mountainside and followed them to an abandoned city which they named “Green Hell” or “Wide Set”. When gold figurines and ceramic urns from this city began to appear in the local black market, archaeologists headed by the director of the Instituto Colombiano de Antropologia reached the site in 1976 and completed reconstruction between 1976-1982.

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Members of local tribes—the Arhuaco, the Koguis and the Wiwas—have stated that they visited the site regularly before it was widely discovered, but had kept quiet about it. They call the city Teyuna and believe it was the heart of a network of villages inhabited by their forebears, the Tairona. Ciudad Perdida was probably the region’s political and manufacturing center on the Buritaca River and may have housed 2,000 to 8,000 people. It was apparently abandoned during the Spanish conquest.


Ciudad Perdida consists of a series of 169 terraces carved into the mountainside, a net of tiled roads and several small circular plazas. The entrance can only be accessed by a climb up some 1,200 stone steps through dense jungle.



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The area is now completely safe but was at one time affected by the Colombian armed conflict between the Colombian National Army, right-wing paramilitary groups and left-wing guerrilla groups like National Liberation Army (ELN) and Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). On September 15, 2003, ELN kidnapped eight foreign tourists visiting Ciudad Perdida, demanding a government investigation into human rights abuses in exchange for their hostages. ELN released the last of the hostages three months later. The United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC), the paramilitary right-wing groups in that country, continued attacking aborigines and non-aborigines in the zone for a while. For some time the zone has been free of incidents.

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In 2005, tourist hikes became operational again and there have been no problems since then. The Colombian army actively patrols the area, which is now deemed to be very safe for visitors and there have not been any more kidnappings. For a six day return hike to the lost city, the cost is approximately US$300. The hike is about 44 km of walking in total, and requires a good level of fitness. The hike includes a number of river crossings and steep climbs and descents. It is a moderately difficult hike.

Since 2009, non-profit organization Global Heritage Fund (GHF) has been working in Ciudad Perdida to preserve and protect the historic site against climate, vegetation, neglect, looting, and unsustainable tourism. GHF’s stated goals include the development and implementation of a regional Management Plan, documentation and conservation of the archaeological features at Ciudad Perdida and the engagement of the local indigenous communities as major stakeholders in the preservation and sustainable development of the site.

* excerpt from (Wikipedia)

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This hike was probably the hardest thing I ever did , but it sure is a once in a lifetime achievement. We had read all the literature about the site, and had been looking forward to completing this trek since we arrived in Colombia. Joined by Diane and Lloyd we showed the other members of our group, who were a lot younger, that if you’re determined, success will follow. The conditions on the trail were extreme, there had been quite a bit of rain lately in the mountains, which left the trail covered in 6 inches of muck. Travelling downhill would have been easier if we had a pair of ski’s.

Day 2, we got up at 5:30 am, putting back on our wet clothes from the day before to walk for almost, 12 1/2 hours, arriving at camp 2 in the dark, to a standing ovation.

The Wiwa and the Kogi, the indigenous group who call this area home do not want to be photographed so out of respect for their beliefs, I have no photo’s. I met one of them on the trail, and he said to me, “ A little hardship in life will be rewarded with a  once in a lifetime experience”  

We would like to thank them inviting us to their land, and showing us some of the history of the Sierra Nevadas. This land truly is sacred and we will remember our time spent here. Our party of four, 3 over the age of 60, asthma, arthritis, hip replacement, and a wonky knee did not hold us back. In the upcoming days as our toenails fall off, yah, I think we are going to …..remember.

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Sign warning of poisonous snakes

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Finish Line!!!

Mar 11

Bogota de Santa Fe, Colombia

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Even though this vibrant city is the capital, we didn’t think we would spend much time here. Known for it’s huge traffic jams which start early in the morning the city didn’t seem very inviting. We took a cab to the historic center , known as Candelaria  and walked around the preserved colonial buildings that house museums, restaurants, hotels, and bars amid the preserved 300 year old homes. Even though large urban centers is not our cup of tea, we are glad we took the time to spend some time , and  thoroughly enjoyed our time spent here.


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We took a bus from the north end of the city,  to the most popular day trip from Bogota to the small town of Zipaquira, 50 km. away. Here we found one of Colombia’s greatest architectural achievements, an underground cathedral carved out of salt, 180 meters below the surface, that can hold up to 10,000 people. Built by 147 workers,  it took 4 years to complete. The men were not paid for their work until the tours started generating income, they now earn a commission. Last year this attraction gave more than 5 million dollars to the town. who have used the funds to build universities.


Look closely…..those are people standing near the alter

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Underground salt river with traces of gold


A salt carving in the wall of the tunnel

Mar 04

San Agustin

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Getting to San Agustin was not easy, we travelled on a bumpy dirt road for approximatly 4 hours, the only road from Popayan, only 136 km. away. Large commercial trucks also use this same road so at times it becomes quite congested. We were glad when we arrived in town and were met at the small bus station by the town tour guide who directed us to the nearest grocery store, then arranged a special cab to take us to our hostel, high in the mountains where normal cabs don’t go. Most taxi’s are small compact cars that have a difficult time with 4 travellers with backpacks.

Our hostel, Pachamama, turned to be a picturesque location overlooking the valley below surrounded by coffee and fruit trees. I think the ducks and chickens in this country have insomnia, making noise all hours of the night but we had very comfortable rooms with a hearty breakfast each morning.

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We could easily walk to town, going down the mountain was OK, coming up we stopped only to be passed by the locals who smiled as they walked by. Horses are  the main way to get around and the best to explore the countryside, but walking is also enjoyable in the fresh mountain air.


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Five thousand years ago this area was inhabited by two indigenous groups that lived near San Agustin. Very little is known about them, they had no written language and had disappeared before the Europeans arrived.

They left behind more than 500 statues scattered in the hills around here, along with a number of tombs. This is the most important archeological site in Colombia, and the  government has done a fantastic job in preserving these locations, and takes pride in displaying them to the world.


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Feb 26


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This small colonial city is famous for it’s chalk-like facades( its nickname is “ La Ciudad Blanca, or The White City”), and is second only to Cartagena as Colombia’s most impressive colonial settlement. It sits beneath towering mountains in the Valle de Pubenza, and for hundreds of years was  the capital of southern Colombia, before Cali overtook it.

The town was founded in 1537by Sebastian de Belalcazar, and became an important stopping point on the road to Quito, Ecuador. It’s mild climate attracted wealthy families from the sugar haciendas of the hot Valle de Cauca region. In the 17th century they began building mansions, schools, and several imposing churches and monasteries.

In march 1983, moments before the much celebrated Maundy Thursday religious procession was set to depart, a violent earthquake shook the town, caving in the cathedral’s roof and killing hundreds. Little damage is visible today.

The city has numerous universities and during the day the streets are filled with students.

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Forty-five kilometers east of Popayan along an unpaved road to La Plata lies a 830 sq/km National Park ( Resguardo Indigena Purace ). The vast majority of the park lies within the reguardo ( official territory ) of the Purace indigenous group.

At this time , the indigenous community has taken control of the park following a dispute with the national government over it’s management. If you ask at any national park or official government tourist office they will tell you that the park is closed, however the community is still accepting visitors and is dedicated to expanding it’s fledgling ecotourism program. In addition to an entrance fee, each group is required to hire an indigenous guide to explore the park.


We had every intention to climb to the top of the volcano, I just wished we had done more research. After stopping at the small village, where our guides loaded supplies and rode in the back of the pick-up to a cabin at the start of the trail. They had us hold hands and asked the gods for guidance and protection so we would be safe walking to the summit to view the volcano.

The wind was howling and the temperature must have been hovering around zero, the altitude stealing our breath. It wasn’t meant to be, one by one we gave up.

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Our 2 guides eager to show us there land, told us they wanted us to see their most sacred area where we could see, and get close to Condors, noted to be the largest birds of the world. What started out with just 1 mating pair has become quite a success. Their wings spanning 10 feet or more as they glide serenely above Colombia’s Andes, condors are majestic physical specimens. They have been important symbols here since pre-colonial times, when indigenous tribes saw them as messengers of the gods and harbingers of good fortune.

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Check out the YouTube video on Condors

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We were also were shown the Termales de San Juan, which are on a high mountain plain (3200m), what an amazing area. These hot springs can not be bathed in due to the heat and the high acid content with the smell of rotten eggs.

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Feb 21


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Cali is rich in Afro- Colombian heritage; nowhere is the nations racial diversity and harmony more apparent than here. From the impoverished barrios to the slick big clubs, everyone is moving to one beat, and that beat is salsa. Music here is much more than entertainment, it is a unifying factor that ties the city together.

We arrived after a 50km bus ride from Armenia, not knowing exactly what we wanted to see, just knowing that we wanted to learn to dance. We had chosen a hostel in the barrio of San Antonio, the Hotel Terraza de San Antonio, a fantastic old restored building.The neighborhood has lots of great places to eat at great prices.

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We visited museum and the botanical garden, where we were escorted by a police officer to make sure no harm came to us as we walked the trails. Apparently it is not in a good area, but after the tour we walked back to town, we were fine.


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Hugging this tree is suppose to bring you good luck, while a little farther down the path is the plant that caused so much problems……Coca.

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Head phones …..Cali style

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We never did get to go inside the club where they teach you how to salsa, they wouldn’t let us in without the right shoes and we were suppose to be wearing the correct clothes. Oh well, we’ll have to sail to Cuba.