In comparison to those slogging it out in the real world, the debates, discussions and decisions of a traveller are no more significant than the plight of a coconut after it falls from the tree. Indeed, life is so relaxed that coordinating travels plans, deciding where to eat, sleep and drink represent time-consuming and mentally-tiring challenges. And with more of the latter, the ability to think of anything useful diminishes altogether. That's why travelling can be stressful sometimes (I realise at this point that anyone reading this whilst stuck in the office, on the tube or in a rush will probably hate me). With the omnipresence of WiFi, it’s hard to get away from what's happening at home, and the unbaiting thirst for new adventures means that you're often thinking about the next place rather than making the most of where you are. Talk about first world problems!
However, once every so often, you find yourself completely immersed in the 'now', and fortunately this was my state of mind for 5 glorious days while sailing from Colombia to Panama. Leaving from Cartagena, our Catamaran spent 2 days across the big blue towards the San Blas islands, situated to the north of Panama. We then spent 3 spectacular days sailing, snorkeling and swimming our way around some of the 378 islands in this mesmerizing archipelago. Sailing Koala had been recommended to us beforehand, and the reality only served to surpass the reality. Fabien, our Colombian captain and Chief Story-teller, was fantastic and thankfully managed to keep us out of the crippling clutches of hurricane Sandy. Despite having to put up with our questionable topics of conversation, Cristina and Luana also looked after us incredibly well, and cooked us the kind of food normally reserved for luxury cruise ships full of American OAPs.
By far my favourite aspect of the trip was that, as promised on the Sailing Koala website, life sailing across the Caribbean is timeless. I'm not the best at knowing what date or day it is at the best of times, but now it was the last thing on my mind, which was clearer than it had been in a long time. I didn’t have to think about where to sleep, eat or what the plan would be upon arriving in Panama. I just lived, enjoying whatever came my way, and spent my days forming great friendships with my fellow passengers. Even taking turns keeping watch on the nightshift, surveying the serene sea, was calmness personified. We had this beautiful moonlit world to ourselves. I believe that all natural environments rebalance our bodies and minds, and being out in the open sea, feeling the waves swell around you, seemed to have a calming and soul-enriching effect.
I'm becoming more and more convinced that I'm not cut out for the cosmopolitan rat-race that is the Western world, and my fellow travellers continue to be amazed at my unending incompetence with modern technology. Internet, television, telephones, buildings, traffic, and money are all things I could happily live without when I'm in a beautiful place with great people. Watching the sunset over the Caribbean Sea whilst drinking a beer is definitely more my style.
The end of this magical maritime adventure also marked the end of my time with one of my favourite travel buddies, Big Mike. You've been a pleasure to travel with, and I'm honoured to have shared so many great memories - many of them very hazy - with you. See you in Australia buddy! As for me it's back on the road, northbound, and it's time to collect some more flags...