Loc: boarder Colombia/ Venezuela
Acc: house in mining company Cerrejón
Dist: 26,1 km
Start: 5:00 End: 09:30
The campfire the boys started yesterday for pleasure, I assumed, turned out to obviously a “watch fire”, as at midnight, when I woke up briefly, the fire was high and one guy was on the watch, looking frequently around with his probably night sight binocular into the dark night. What for? Protecting me and my tent from the many donkeys and goats around?
Now I put one and one together – the careful check around when we landed, the 1/2 hr trip into the bush of three men well armed with their guns and pistols, maybe even the talk with the locals that afternoon who might have told them of some observations…the guys are fearing suspicious elements being around here in the border area! It all looked so peaceful to me paddling and landing…but they must know. Narco traffic bloody active here, and FARC is not out of question either in this area. I couldn’t say my sleep was better after this insight, but I covered my eyes with my sleeping mask and trusted the night watch.
At 4 am, the guys started to move the boat noisily off the anchor, although I wanted to wake only half an hour later…oh well, not going to argue with some one being early… and this is the last night on the beach for now!
Paddling was of the easiest again, dead calm water and low wind coming amazingly from the west from the land. I had to watch some jutting out reef spots in the very shallow now crystal clear water when I paddled close to the shore, that was it. It was overcast, and a few rain drops were falling down from the dark sky. But soon the rain increased, and the wind changed to the east within minutes around 9 am. No problem, I would be at the border soon!
The rainy season obviously had started now, the attempts of the last days of the grumbling thunderstorm and few rain drops seemed to have it’s highlight today. It was raining even on the drive back almost all the time!
We stopped at the level of the police station which was marking obviously the border, my plan to paddle to the headland tip was obviously 1.8 km too far. Finish of this leg!
I put on my tiny wind breaker jacket and pants, expecting a long 160 km and chilly ride back to Puerto Bolivar on the coast guard boat. My boat got strapped and padded well, and the boys wanted me first to sit with them on the stern area for “security reasons”. I shouldn’t have been there, as despite I was sitting with the back to the wind and the sea was calm enough for no bumping and jumping, I was soaked withing minutes from the rain and was freezing very soon.
I insisted to move to the bow, sitting down in a more or less wind protected spot on the ground, pulled out my e-book in it’s Aquapac, added a layer of fleece to my soaked gear which didn’t really made a difference, and tried to survive the trip without getting frozen to the bones. Just about… 🙂
3 1/2 hrs driving on calm seas with rain would be ok if you’d be warm enough and not soaked, but I was neither of that. Still all better than high seas, jumping and bumping and standing all the time in the stern like I did on many other long rides!
Arriving back to Puerto Bolivar, I was stiff from cold and squatting in my corner. But I had the outlook of a long summer break at home now! I washed my kayak, and took pictures of all the many “war marks” and repairs my poor baby had to suffer since Valparaiso. But it sounded like Point 65 is happy to outfit me with a new boat very soon! I am happy to have paddled my own specially designed Point 65 “Freya” kayak, as it proved to be exactly the model and style I need for such a trip. Teething problems are normal on a new model, but with my feedback the serial production will have implemented all my notes. I can say, the “Freya” kayak is now a thoroughly tested and well designed expedition kayak! There is nothing better on the market for my needs (and surely for anyone else’s needs on challenging trips…) !
Thanks to the guys of the Armada de Colombia to have supported me in such a great way all the time in their country. I felt safe and well looked after, especially while camping! See how Venezuela will go in August…
I will be on my trip holiday until I am back in Colombia on August 14th!