Loc: Isla Gorgona
Dist: 42,7 km
Start: 6:45 End: 13:15
No paddling tomorrow
The rest stop in this village turned out to be not as restful as in that other quiet one, as we stayed at the main village jetty and didn’t eventually anchor in the middle of the river like last time. My “bodyguards” were rather happy to be busy guarding the bodies of the local young beauties, with according noisy chatting and giggling long after I liked my rest. Who can blame them, after those boring days on the water following me? There was also loud music late into the night due to the last carnival days, and I didn’t really like to read as my headlight would attract mosquitoes into my small open door bow compartment.
One of my guys put up his hammock on top of the jetty,one other took his rest on the mattress on the deck. The other two were long time missing and obviously out “into town”, and eventually had to jump deep down on our boat, which was sinking down relatively to the jetty due to the outflowing 4-m tide. For about an hour we were even sitting on the mud a bit sideways, until the water raised again around midnight. All the time, I felt like anyone could just jump onto our boat or abseil from the first floor of the house just on the jetty’s edge above us and do something bad…surely stupid with all the well-armed policemen just across the jetty and my four Navy men around. But fantasies are sometimes going weird…
I eventually put my earplugs in, but was happy when the night was over and we could drive back out to the spot into the open ocean where I stopped my paddling last night. Today the sea was dead calm, no waves not even in the river entrance on slack high tide, and I had again great current north and a lovely wind pushing me so I could average with the empty boat easily 7 km/h including breaks.
Isla Gorgona came near, and I really enjoyed to eventually paddle again close to a beach inside a real coral reef! The reef was not really one of the most beautiful ones I have ever seen, but it was a coral reef, with a bunch of colorful fish to be spotted even from my kayak. Behind the sandy beach mixed with rocks, the lush green rain forest piled up on some hills. I paddled very slowly now, enjoying every minute of solitude with the beautiful nature. I knew soon I’d have to be with people again, as this island is a nature reserve and I could not camp here just anywhere. Eventually a place with no human danger, but still no freedom camping…
The island has a hotel, and a police station manned with five guys. When I arrived, not a single hotel guest was signed up, and the policemen didn’t really look very busy either…they told me unfortunately the island is not as popular for holidays as it should be according to what it had to offer…well…there are many snakes around, you are not allowed to smoke, drink, or walk into the forest by yourself, to camp or to cook your own food…
When it came to decide where I should stay, Mario had to take me to the guy who was responsible for the national park, and they long time refused to allow me to put up my own tent anywhere. Park rules…snakes…surely they liked me to sign up for the hotel…no way. Eventually we agreed I was allowed to stay with my tent on the wooden patio of the police station on terra independencia – snake proof, for the reason…and certainly I was cooking my own food inside my tent. I really feel more comfortable staying simple among the guys than paying for a ghost hotel! I still had to pay for “national park fees”. At least I will take a walk tomorrow into the jungle, even if I have to take a guide.
In the afternoon, I found all the staff of the hotel, the police station and my Navy men sitting in front of a TV in a communal room, watching the soccer champions league…men allover the world are really the same!
I took a short walk on the beach, but rather felt like resting inside my tent and taking the chance of the quietness of all men being absent in front of the TV. Fortunately the island has great fresh water, and my skin loved the long fresh cool shower with disinfectant soap.
Still the greatest challenge for me paddling the tropics is to keep my skin healthy. If I only have a tiny shower out of my fresh water bag – better than nothing – my skin doesn’t feel as relaxed as it does after a real shower with soap. It is actually itching constantly everywhere, and that really can make you crazy. I am smearing and spraying all day sunscreen, strong insect repellent, lots of anti itching cream and some cream for open wounds on the worst spots, still it is the same skin problem when I was paddling around Australia. The bugs like especially to bite into my backside at night, and sitting all day on that one doesn’t really make it better. I really appreciate for that reason also the many chances with the Navy to stay inside an air conditioned room or at least inside my bug free tent. Surely the nights on the boat couldn’t really match that. But that’s all part of the challenge! No real complaints…