Loc: Isla Puna
Dist: 45,7 km
Start: 7:00 End: 15:40
Estimated landing: Playas
I was waiting until 6.30 am, but no one came to pick me and my gear, so this morning it was me knocking on my neighbor’s door. Ignacio woke me yesterday in vain at 6 am as he didn’t know I had a day off and today he thought the weather would be too bad to go that early – it was actually raining heavily.
But if I’d be not going as planned during heavy tropical rain, when else in these latitudes? For me it was the first real rain since Valparaiso on this trip, and I loved it! Rain jacket? Umbrella? what for? Just go out and enjoy the warm shower…
Ignacio organized five young men to carry my gear bags down to the boat, and as they were dressed just in sport shorts and shirts they were obviously thinking the same. When I’m camping in the bush and I have to go out in heavy tropical rain, best to wear just *nothing*…
I loaded my boat, and Ignacio told me on hugging me good bye he was deeply inspired by my trip and personality – there is not much else I can give people along the way! It is all in your mind…
The Navy boat was already waiting to escort me today, and I asked them to please stay downwind and in a bit of a distance behind me. That way I don’t have to smell the engine and to hear the noise all day – and I actually can almost forget I have to have an escort boat here. Pirates?
The boat from Puerto Bolivar stayed with me for about 20 km, then another boat came, I assume it was from Guayaquil. I had to put them also in position, but about 16 km short to the island they told me they had to leave now for a while. “You can do it! You are so close now!” Well, yes, sure…I know I can do it! Thanks for the job, guys! They must have been bored as hell after the initial happiness about an easy job in nice weather…
About 5 km later, a small blue fishing boat with three young guys in there was stopping sideways for a curious chat. Nothing unusual, and I was waving and smiling. Alone here? And they were answering their question already themselves about where I’d be going – Playas… Soon I kept on paddling, not too much in a mood for a conversation in my broken Spanish. somehow didn’t like these guys…just a gut feeling. They turned a circle, and came back to tell me something I barely understood – something about “olas grandes” – big waves ahead at the tip of Isla Puna – today??? I shrugged my shoulders I’d be not worried about any waves today and here…I also made a sign I’d not be understanding due to the engine noise, and they stopped the boat. Now came another sentence I didn’t understand, but I just got one word – “Piratos” – which I didn’t need to translate.
There was something in their behaviour which unfortunately got me thinking they’re warning me about themselves – how they were lounging in their boat, their fat smiles, how their t-shirts were wrapped around the head against the sun – good fishermen behave different. I saw and chatted to many good guys, and these ones I didn’t like.
On their “Piratos” sentence, I just laughed, shrugged my shoulders, said “no hablamos muchos Espanol, no entiendo”, and just kept on paddling without having stopped long and without turning back. I wonder what they were thinking about *me*? I was actually thinking “Go home to your mums, boys!” – but was very much kind of hoping they’d not come along a third time…if…I’d have no chance.
My paddling was calm and continuous, not showing any sign of distress, and I think I have shocked them a bit with my appearance and behaviour. But maybe them being bad guys was only on my mind? But true fishermen look and behave different. My gut feeling knows that. What a coincident they just came up when the Navy guys were thinking me being home and hosed and had left earlier…
I found a very remote camp site on the southern tip of Isla Puna, and am hoping no one will bother me tonight. All looks good.
I called Peter tonight, and he could give me the good news there was an e-mail from the German embassy in Colombia – the Colombian Navy would escort me all the time in their waters – thank goodness! Colombia is many times more scary than here in Ecuador…Argentine, Chile and Peru all felt safe everywhere, on the water and on camping, Ecuador is on the edge. Colombia will be really good to have Navy protection all the time – something I had refused in Chile as I really felt it was not necessary. The water itself and even the animals I can calculate to a degree, but bad people are hard to calculate. Now I am a bit relieved it all works out well!
I’m wondering if another Ecuadorian Navy boat shows up tomorrow? I wouldn’t mind…
I actually should have already long ago mentioned and thanked Juan Rodriguez from South Expeditions in Ecuador to make the initial contact with the Ecuadorian Navy after a letter from the German embassy to the Navy took a long time to get answered. He is my initial and main contact in Ecuador and he and his assistant hung on the phone and computer a lot to get things to work. Thanks to Juan and his team!