San Bliss

Rather than take our lives into our hands and attempt to drive across the infamous Darien Gap; 90km of forbidding mountainous jungle on the Panama side and impenetrable swamps, guerrillas, crazed drug traffikers, greedy kidnappers and corrupt government police on the Colombian side, we booked a passage on the ‘Stahlratte’. This 120 foot steel schooner from Germany sails from Cartagena, Colombia to Carti, Panama via the San Blas Islands, thus avoiding the Death Zone.

The 4 day, 3 night tour began with an early start for Nick, who met Captain Ludwig and the crew, shortly after sunrise to hoist the motorbike aboard. When asked why this operation had to take place so early Ludwig suggested it was because the sea was calmer. In reality we’re pretty sure it was to complete the task before the Colombian Customs clocked in, and caught on to what we were up to.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

With the motorbike safely aboard, and after a quick supermarket trip to stock up on essentials (rum/ beer/ sweets), we bade a fond farewell to Colombia and set sail for Central America.DSCN4916

By the next afternoon, we had arrived at the paradise that is the San Blas Islands, an archipelago of 378 islands, the majority of which are home to only a handful of palm trees. A few of the larger islands are inhabited by the native people of San Blas, called Kuna who are famous for their bright ‘molas’; a colorful textile art form made with the techniques of appliqué and reverse appliqué. DSCN4961DCIM109GOPROimg_1296DSCN5034-2

We spent the next two days enjoying our island paradise to the full; sunbathing, snorkeling, lazing in hammocks on deck and having a BBQ on one of deserted islands as the sun went down.DSCN5031

All too soon, it was time to lift anchor and head for Carti, Panama. There were a few tense moments, and lots of German shouting, as the very large ‘Stahlratte’ approached the very small jetty. We only had a minute or two to unload the bike before Ludwig needed to reverse away from the shallow water, but all went according to plan and, as the ‘Stahlratte’ sailed away, our adventures in Central America began.DSCN5111 DSCN5120 DSCN5121DSCN5124DSCN5144


2 thoughts on “San Bliss

  1. Hey guys – nice to meet you on the road to Catalina Baja – I would love to be able to pick your brains via email occasionally if that’s ok with you?

    Safe travels


    (South bound to BA)

    • Hi Matthew,

      Sorry for not getting back to you. We were quite busy packing the bike up in LA and now find ourselves back in the UK. See email below with some tips for Central America –

      Good to meet you. Some tips below for Central America –

      – El Remate. Good place to stay to visit Tikal. We stayed at posada del cerro which was amazing and made delicious food.

      – Caye Caulker. Awesome spot. Would recommend staying at Raul’s Rooms, eating fry jacks at Belita’s and doing the Hole Chan day trip. We didn’t spend any time on the mainland.

      – Copan Ruinas in Honduras was amazing. We stayed at Hacienda Esperanza which was one of the best places we’ve stayed on our entire trip.

      – We loved Nicaragua. Would definitely recommend Granada. Lovely town and Casa del Agua was a great place to stay. Also go to the cigar factory Mombacho. The classicos are very nice!

      – Playas Maderas was a cool place on the coast. Huge surf which is great to watch and all of the people who stay in the more well know San Juan del Sur come to this beach anyway. There are three or four small restaurants by the beach, one does great pizzas with a wood oven. Good place to chill. We stayed at Hulakai. This is the MTV cribs place we mentioned.

      – As discussed we thought Costa Rica was overrated and expensive. We did the canopy bridges in Santa Elena which were quite cool but not much wildlife. The serpentarium was amazing though. Take a tour with one of the guys. We crossed from Panama into Costa Rica on the Caribbean side but I would suggest trying the Pacific side. Maybe we missed something. If you do end up on the Caribbean coast puerto viejo is worth a few days and not a bad place to surf.

      – We also liked Panama, the large amount of Americans aside. Definitely go to Santa Catalina. Good place to do surfing. Would highly recommend staying at Shirley’s Cabanas and taking the day trip to Coiba where the snorkeling was awesome and it is possible to see whale sharks. Also learn the ropes of Black Jack and take Trump for some cash! Panama City old town and the canal are also worth visiting.

      Happy to answer any questions if you have any whilst on the road.

      Bon viaje as they out here!

      Nick and Lucy

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