Loc: Puerto Bolivar
Acc: Navy Puerto Bolivar
Dist: 30 km
Start: 6:500 End: 15:15
No paddling tomorrow!
Safe and sound hosted and looked after by the Ecuadorian Navy, thanks! I’m too tired as usual after a day in the city to write long now, but need to have also off tomorrow for a few chores. Will update tomorrow from today’s events!
Basically I had a good night’s rest – with some interruptions of small motor fishing boats cruising to work at night. But no one was landing on my island or spotted my tent, I think.
I felt quite worn this morning after the last day’s all headwind paddle, but needed to get going to Puerto Bolivar.
I was proudly sticking on my kayak’s sides the fourth set of flag stickers of my new hosting country – Ecuador! I’m looking forward to experience a new country! Though my main purpose is to make distance on the water…
I paddled along a bit offshore, cutting over the bay, surrounded and greeted by many fishermen in their small motorboats. All were very friendly waving, three were stopping by for a small chat.
The last guy came back again, now offering me some food out of his box – a half watermelon, milk, bananas, a mango, some bread buns, even two crabs out of his catch, but I politely refused as I was really not sure if he wanted to sell it to me (probably, but I didn’t have any $$ handy), or if this was meant to be as a present, which I didn’t like to take either as my food bags are full and his may not be that full. Though the mango would have been nice…:-)
The last piece of “merchandising” he was lifting up to show me was a thick book in a leather case – “La Palabra del Dio” – The word of god, a bible. Amazing they are taking it on their boats! It shows me people can’t be that bad here…but did he really wanted to sell it to me? Probably not, just showing at the end proudly his most valuable possession. He also offered me some help to get across, but no, thank you!
I chose to take at least one shortcut through a channel on top of Isla Jambeli, which was cut in half with this water way. Going around the northern end would have taken more than twice as long! On Google Earth, it looked easy to go on with even a motorboat – if there wouldn’t be the tide here…
It was very hard to spot the entrance between some low sand banks, it was almost like in our German Wattensee! I had a GPS point, and there were a few buildings plus some rocky wall. So just paddle along the coast, and the channel entrance shows up? Barely…I knew I would be arriving at the entrance just at the very lowest tide of the day, and was wondering if I could go in? I was doing right to wonder – one small motorboat was cruising up and down the entrance waiting for the water to rise again. The entrance was a low sandy bar just about flooded enough to get me over with my kayak in low surf. But soon I was stuck in the very first bends before I could hit a deeper inside pool. It was like home – get out, and walk your kayak dragging it along for a few hundred meters! Fortunately, it was hard sand and not mud on the ground, and besides I was kind of stumbling along over hills and pools under water, I felt all right making my way in instead of waiting for the tide to rise!
One other motorboat was stuck on the inside, probably wanting to go out soon. The two fishermen were passing their waiting time with repairing their nets, and were probably wondering about what kind of strange person in a strange craft was coming along there…
I eventually could paddle freely in the channel, having plenty of water inside it, despite low tide. I was completely alone, and it was a bit eerie in there, this mangrove jungle…I spotted three houses and a few walls behind which I assumed they had fish ponds – I think via my map. I was not hoping they were growing some not allowed plants already there…Eventually, the water level at the entrance must have been high enough to let boats pass, three boats came along, all waving friendly. I’m generally not scared on the water meeting other boats, the men in there are usually so much surprised about my strange craft coming from abroad with all those stickers, and then it’s a “Senorita”!! And if they understand that I’m paddling all the way around South America, they show the greatest respect. No problem. So far here…
I was eventually paddling out of the small channel into the big one where just across I could see the big Puerto Bolivar harbor and city. I had no real idea where to go to find the Port Captain, but my instinct showed me the right way.
I was landing at an easy low floating wooden pontoon under a small marine museum, where I was pulling my kayak up. Two other fishing boats were just busy tying their ropes also to the pontoon. I had to go over the jetty to a building across the street where it said “Capitania de la Puerto. It was not easy to talk to the guard in “Spanglish” who I was and who I wanted to see and that they are expecting me…and all the time my kayak was lying unattended on the jetty pontoon.
But eventually I was guided to the Port Captain Jorge Durán, a very friendly man speaking also good English.
He organized everything for me with the help of Maria, a nice woman working in the Navy as a school teacher and who also spoke great English. I got a nice room with shower and even air condition (thank goodness for my skin!), got my kayak securely stored, and Maria drove me around to do some chores already this afternoon.
We were trying to send a parcel with already some surplus warm clothing and a few other gadgets I think I won’t need being by myself, bought an Ecuadorian sim card for my cell phone, and some fresh water in bottles.
Time was getting short eventually, and we decided the immigration stamp I can get tomorrow, plus I’ll chat some more with the Port Captain about how the Navy can help getting me safely through Ecuador.My skin can have a break day in an air conditioned room, and I have more time for my preparations. No internet here though…
Thanks to the Port Captain Jorge, to Maria and to all the Navy guys to be so kind to me helping me along with everything! Ecuador is a very friendly country!