Launched into the danger zone
Loc: behind San Juan de las Galdonas
Dist: 36,4 km
Start: 4:45 End: 14:15
I left Francisco’s house with mixed feelings, but mainly regarding the press activity at my arrival and the fact that I couldn’t land and launch unseen. At 4.30 am, the fishing beach, the only place to launch from in Rio Caribe, was surely already full of people, also the market upfront was starting to come alive. I surely was unloading my boat on arrival, and had to pack it now again, fortunately in an almost dark corner. Still about a hundred eyes were watching my activities, one guy came especially close to have a look and I gave Edgar a sign to keep him away. I already stowed away my electronics unseen in the house, but all those interesting bags may have caused curiosity. I was quickly done, and even more quickly was gliding still into the dark night, still with a friendly farewell wave to the local spectators. I was keeping straight for a while, hoping not every one would realize in which direction I’d go. Maybe all those thoughts were surplus and too much worry, but who knows? If a boat wants to follow and stop me, nothing would be more easy that that.
The only thing I could do to stay mostly out of sight and out of encounters with the motorboats was to paddle far out from the coast. As there was a wide bay coming up, this was all right for me. It mainly worked, no one took much notice of me. Still about 5 km far out, the counter current and wind is stronger than inside the wide bay, and it is way less interesting to paddle. All for the safer feeling… one boat came closer and made signs about why I’d be paddling out there, inside it would be much easier? Well, he was so correct, but kept on going when I was only waving friendly and not talking much.
On this Wednesday, the forecast was still “normal”, means after a calm morning the wind freshed up around ten. I would have loved to turn around the headland to Santa Isabel already today, leaving two “no go” villages behind me. But around 1 pm I had to realize my effort was just wasting too much energy, crawling along with 2-3 km/h again. I was about 5 km out, and just past San Juan de las Galdonas, a supposingly “good” place. I decided to go in, and to land on the far end of the long village beach, as there was no separate beach in sight. Coming closer, I was crossing the line of about eight boats again, but all waved friendly. No one seemed to be on “my” beach end, despite some surf. If you want to land in the remote places, you have to accept the landings are surely tougher than in the sheltered popular village bays. But oh well, I had way more worse surf…
I was almost landed, when I spotted a fisherman even further out on the end of the beach…why the hell can’t I land somewhere with NO people around? It really seems not to be possible in Venezuela… but I had no other option but to go in now. I landed elegantly, but decided being watched carefully by three fishing guys now, not to put up my tent yet but to wait what the guys are doing. I stretched out on my boat, and actually for the first time noticed how comfortable that was! Just with the cockpit cover on it, feet to the stern, I could rest very comfortably, even without padding. With my sleeping pad on top and an additional pillow bag I should be able to spend a comfortable night if I am stuck in the muddy mangrove flats behind Trinidad? But here, I already spotted a flat spot at the steep beach by a small river mouth to put up my tent later when the boys may be gone. It was shady on the beach, and in my wet clothes even with long pants on I was soon almost freezing slightly.
At some point one of the young men came over with a smile and a fresh coconut and a long bush knife and offered me the fruit. Maybe I should have accepted, but as I am never sure if they wanted to present or sell the stuff to me, I rather rejected and kept on “sleeping”. But soon I was now sure I’d put up my tent NOW, and did just that, getting also out of the view of the guys about 300 m up the beach. I just started my job, when another young 14-year old boy came curiously out of nowhere, watching me friendly. I made my one man-tent show just for him, trying to talk a bit. Eventually he shoveled off, not after having loaded a heavy branch on his back to show off the strengh of a local 14-year old 🙂 I was just hoping he was not alerting the whole village to have also a look. I spent a few hours in my marginally equipped tent, not even unpacking my cuddly blanket not to get too comfortable here…but at least I was eventually out of my wet clothes. The other three guys didn’t pass my tent, no idea if they stayed out there in the bush or where they’d be gone after darkness.
As I didn’t feel and even didn’t want to feel comfortable here in the reach of people, and as the night was eventually calm, the surf a bit down and I could now pass the “bad” villages in darkness, I decided to launch after just four hours of sleep between 7 and 10 pm. I was packed quickly, and launched not without getting a fat wash into my face to wake me up fully again. But all good eventually out there, and I started my paddle into the hazy warm night. I should be able to make some distance tonight and the following day, would find a remote beach to have a full night’s sleep, and keep on going the next day already over to Trinidad, arriving there again in darkness. So far my plan…