It took less than a day to get here, but Tommy claimed, “That was the longest day of my life!” Going against the wind is never fun. The engines were off for only 15 minutes during the whole 21-hour trip, and we motor-sailed the whole way, double-reefed at the end. Plus, Mel was a bit worried before we left as the place near Barranquilla where the River Magdalena flows into the sea is supposed to be one of the roughest in the Caribbean, with fighting waves and wind. There are many stories online of debris in the water here, including large logs and dead cows. Fortunately, Mel’s brilliant body decided to make her a little seasick and put her asleep down below during the river crossing, which fell during Greg’s watch anyway. Per Greg, the winds were okay at 25 knots, but the waves were a mess, 7-8 feet and coming from all different directions. The water looked like it came from a sewer, but there wasn’t a cow in sight. Mel concluded that the “dead cow” story was one incident that went viral. We need to rename that story, “The Famous Dead Cow of the River Magdalena Would Like Everyone to Stop Worrying About Her Now.”
The winds kicked up to 35-40 knots as we closed in on Santa Marta, which made putting out the fenders a bit challenging. However, Greg docked beautifully with 35 knots of wind pushing us off the dock, and the line handlers at the Santa Marta Marina are pros.
After a few days of school, we ventured out into Santa Marta yesterday, amazed at how we feel so much more comfortable with just a slight drop in humidity and temperature when compared to Cartagena. We spent a day visiting the cool Gold Museum, which was also a cultural museum on Santa Marta. There we learned about the Caiman Man myth. To summarize, a guy liked to secretly watch ladies swim naked in a nearby river/lake. He obtained a potion to turn him into a caiman (alligator) so he could get away with this. Another potion, poured over his body, would turn him back into a human. One day, the reversal potion spilled after only a bit got on him, and he was left mostly in alligator form, with a human head. Some versions say one of his arms was human as well. The town of Plato has a Caiman Man festival every year, and for the last 55 years the same guy has been dressing up as the Caiman Man. Well, at least he says he dresses up every year…Hmmmm.
We also went to the estate where Simon Bolivar, the idealistic “George Washington” of South America, died of tuberculosis at age 47. Simon Bolivar was fascinating, and much to the children’s chagrin, Mel is coming up with all sorts of school projects the kids can do on him. Poor guys!
We plan to trek up the mountains soon. We haven’t seen any spiders yet.