Dist: 41,3 km
Start: 6:30 End: 16:00
Tomorrow’s estimated landing: 50 further north
I think I had slept worse on the boats, as this was a real ship! An a real ship’s officer’s cabin has to have a real ship mattress – I think…every time the ship was moving in the waves, the mattress kind of caught the movement in that way I felt I was on a cloud or water bed, so smooth, so gentle were my movements. So basically I slept great in my floating air conditioned hotel cabin! Thanks to the Aeronaval Panama to pick me up and to host me!
One more thanks to the Colombian Navy, especially to Capitán de Fregata Carlos Delgado, having hosted me in their country! Though I’d rather have paddled by myself, I saw the safety reasons, and also the comfort of paddling an empty boat, and not having to bother about a campsite at night. Plus having occasionally a great air conditioned room available!
The ship, though driving all night around the area on patrol, was perfectly in time back on the spot where I stopped last night. I was in the water at 6.30 am, and could paddle on, perfectly guarded by the smaller boat with five Aeronaval special forces guys. The ship went up and down offshore meanwhile.
The smaller boat, similar to the Colombian one, but additionally equipped with four solid metal shields against gun bullets for a serious gun battle, was in a good shape with all working instruments and no broken roof and seat poles. But they may have had not so many serious high speed runs so far, stressing the equipment too much…
As I had to go to Jaqué tonight for my Panama entry stamp, I thought similar to Jurado we should go there in late afternoon to be at the office before 5 pm, a regular office closing time. I was asking my guys, and they agreed. They loaded my kayak, but as on this boat there was not enough space along the sides, we had to stick the bow in to the tiny front cabin. This one was equipped there with a real small ship toilet! Nice place for my bow…
I thought we would be driving directly into the Rio Jaqué, similar to Jurado, but the guys left the river asides and headed one bay further ahead to Puerto Pina, where the big ship was anchoring. Aha….it would be so nice if I could understand their planning!
Edgar, the ship captain, explained to me we will take my bags on the small boat, head together to Jaqué and I’d stay there over night, while their mission was finished for now, they had to go back to Panama City.
I’d get my entry stamp, and tomorrow morning I’d be escorted by a police boat two or three days until Garachine. Ok, if you say so…
We boarded the small boat, the five guys, Edgar and I, plus my kayak loaded nose first into the toilet The river mouth to Jaqué looked on Google Earth easy and wide open, different to Jurado, but it was not so… I already noticed all day the swell was back the first time since Colombian waters, with some bumpy seas and heavy breaks on the rocky walls of the coast line. The river mouth was guarded with massive huge breakers! The boat driver was confident, and took a diagonal line in. He managed to stay off the larger breakers, but it was damn scary to watch! No way I’d be paddling in here today! I’d have to land early before on the beach where the break may have been still a bit lower. The guys looked at each other thinking about the exit later…and I was thinking about my drive out tomorrow with my kayak on board of another boat.
We were landing eventually safely on the calm river side, expected by the same view of soldiers everywhere…I thought this will be better in Panama? Not really…we went into the Army battalion, which was also the police here, and I got my passport quickly stamped while I was waiting in the aisle of the office rooms. The second chief, my ship captain and the first chief seemed to have to organize more things, and I had to wait, wait, wait…half an hour or more, wet and not showered or changed. Eventually I appeared in the office door, with a questioning look, but they pushed me out again, still discussing the planning.
At least they offered me to wait now in the battalions lounge, nicely air conditioned, but as I was wet I was now freezing! I said I’d need to change my clothing and to have a shower, which was agreed. I also got some dinner offered, thanks, and then had still to wait what would happen now…the evening was proceeding, and I didn’t know where I was supposed to sleep, tired as I was.
Eventually, Edgar showed up and told me they can not escort me the next days, and I’d have to paddle by myself. Great! This is what I wanted! The beaches should be safe now, he said. But I’d need to pay a small local boat to transport my luggage…what??? Sorry, I am used to transporting my own gear myself if I paddle by myself… they didn’t know!
Ok, a quick look on Google Earth and maps and at the weather forecast! Sure now there are few beaches until the 70 km to Garachine…but there is one with a small village and soldiers after about 45 km. Ok, this will do! Then another short day up to the point, before I like to cross to the Pearl islands archipelago.
I felt so tired and worn I’d love to stay here in Jaqué for a day with nice wifi and air condition, but the forecast said something different. Unlike the last weeks with more or less steady weather, there are two strong north wind days coming up on Sunday and Monday. No good for the crossing…but tomorrow would be calm, and Saturday just light north wind. Perfect to go up to the point, and to have two relaxing days off on a nice beach by myself before the crossing!
It was eventually 7.30 pm, and I urgently needed to take the chance to buy a Panama sim card, which was available in a small village shop. I was walking there with the second officer, and fortunately he was able to help me getting the phone going – with about four calls to the help line, changing APN, Proxy and all the usual pain until my data was also working. It took two hours!!! It was 9.30 pm, and we had still no decision where I should sleep. He was earlier before asking his boss if I could sleep inside the battalion area, but this was rejected – too many men and I am a women…well, can’t your boys behave themselves? I could behave the last weeks in Colombia, sleeping only in men’s Navy places…the big boss also didn’t bother to show himself at all, the second officer had to run in and out and ask about this and that all the time.
I finally made my decision myself, and put up my tent right besides my boat at the river landing besides the battalions village entrance control tent, where the kayak and my bags got guarded already all the time. This would be a safe place! It was all right, but I was wondering just a bit about the petrol smell all night. Must come from all the boat engines around…maybe I should have better taken up the offer of a hotel? But a hotel here in Jaqué, costing onky 5 dollars…no, sorry, my own tent is my 5-star hotel!
I eventually was able to rest around midnight…my evenings packed with tasks was a bit stretched tonight…