There were hundreds of small islands on our way. Usually after 5PM the catamaran was anchored close to one of them and we were able to swim to the shore. Most islands were uninhabited and less than 100m wide, with only few palm trees and birds. Some were habited by the kunas and one even had an air strip and officers that stamped our passports.
Fritz the Cat was our ride out of Carti. A 15m catamaran capable of sleeping up to 15 people (or so) sailing under the Austrian flag having Herr Fritz, from Austria, as the capitan and chef. Beside him, onboard there was Luis, the Colombian sailor and a former tiger trainer at circus, Siegfried, from Germany, Tulay, a Turkish lady also from Germany (both were capitan’s friend), and two other paying customers (at a rate of US$395 per person and US$395 per bike with all meals, coffee, tea and water included for 5 days): Gerolamo, an Italian actor living now in Berlin and Hitay, a Turkish webmaster. So, after struggling for one month to understand Spanish I had to start it all over since the most spoken language onboard was German. Everybody was a fan of traveling and stories about Cambodia, Venezuela, Spain, Cuba, South Africa and even Antarctica never stopped from being told. It felt like everyone was enjoying a non-stop vacation!
Seeing the dock, I was expecting some sort of Ro-Ro feature but no, we had to muscle Palomina (the bike’s name, after the horse in Guatemala) in the boat. The trip to the catamaran cost us US$25 and it took less than 10 minutes. Imagine the effort with the directions being shouted in English, German, Spanish, Kuna and Romanian.
Just before reaching the shore we found out that the last bridge was still under construction and all vehicles had to go through the river. But because of the raining the river was high so we decided to remove the luggage so we won’t wet everything in case I lose control of the bike while crossing. As you can see from the pictures, the river was successfully crossed by BMW, Toyota, Nissan but not Ford which had to be towed… Finally it was julst like in the movies… the road led us to an abandoned air strip in the jungle and from there we reached the shore.
The kunas are indigenous people living in the coastal areas of Panama and Colombia. To get to Carti, our destination, we had to ride for about 90 minutes on a muddy road going through a thick jungle and crossing the Kuna reservation. A tropical rain made this more fun! Plus, the bike overheated at some point (the Yamaha fan seems to be not as good as the original…) so I had to cool it down with water from a nearby river.