Saturday, June 12, 2010

The Launcher Approach, Sapzurro, Colombia

One after noon on day 2 Grant and I happened to notice a pod of dolphins making there way towards the bow of the boat. It was truely a magical experience and it was interesting to see how social the beautiful creatures were with us and to each other as they surfed and raced the boat for the better part of 15 minutes
The bikes being tied down on the deck shortly after the gruff Launcher captain got rid of us. In the process my windshield got broken but alas, it was no big deal, stuff can alway be fixed.

Once Grants bike was loaded it was time to heave my pig of a machine into the Launcher. Six men heaved the 200kg up and over the gunnel and all of our gear along with 10 people were loaded into the craft for the 1.5 hr motor to Supzurro.

After a heavey rain fall the streets of Turbo morph into single track trails that eventually get beaten down and smooth again once things begin to dry out.

A derelict boat rests on the shore along the main river estuary in Turbo.

Kids playing in a hole in the wall along a dirt road street in Turbo within the community area where Grant and I decided to go for a exploratory stroll one afternoon.

Two happy young fellows playing in the garbage that floats onto shore. In the Styrofoam were many baby crabs which the young boys were apparently farming.

A motorcycle truck with fragile cargo. This machine was a shaft drive and carried a payload of several tens of dozens of eggs.

The shore line of Turbo in a estuary which was polluted with garbage and raw human sewage. The air was dank and the water smelled like a treatment plant yet people lived here and seemed to be enjoying there simple lives.

Just before Turbo, these enterprising Military men were trying to pester us for money which we outright refused to give. After refusal I asked if I could fire his grenade launching machine gun to which he was ready willing and able to provide for a small fee. Before negotiation began however, Grant thwarted my idea saying it was not a smart idea. Since he was not confortable about me firing the machine gun I let sleeping dogs lie.

It was decided that we would relive the memory of the infamous town of Turbo and head straight back into the backwater town. We arrived just before dark and had little time to negotiate any such Launch out to Supzurro to rendevous Leonardo and his Yacht for the morning. Infact we blindly headed to Turbo without any communications with Leonardo because the urge to get out of Cartegena and have a change of scenery was overwhelming.

Paola, who is Leonardos daughter, met us at the hostal at 0830 am thursday morning and we set off together from Cartegena to Turbo with me in the lead and Grant and Paola riding two up. After spending the night at Hotel Caribe in Turbo, Grant and I decided to head to the docks and begin negotiation for a boat to meet Leonardo in Supzurro. Our discussion with a few people morphed into a huge mob of people formed into a semi circle of whom no-one had the foggiest clue about anything but were willing to add their two cents about the cost of a boat to Supzurro. The range in price was huge between 1 million to 2 million Pesos......about the same price as flying from Bogota to Panama. Alas talking to the dimwits yeilded nothing but frustration.
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As the day progressed a phone call finally came in from Leonardo with news that he would organize a Launch from his end. This was great news as he managed to negotiate half the price that we could get in Turbo.

In the morning after our second night in Turbo we headed to Aduana to sign out the bikes and make our way to Necocci....a little town where the Captain of the Launcher decided to meet us. (The Captain probably had a woman to meet for an hour or two). Grant and I along with Paola rolled up to the beach in Necocci and greeted Leonardo along with roughly 15 locals ready to heave our bikes into the 20 foot by 6 foot wide fiberglass craft touting a 200 Horse engine. All of our gear was removed from the bikes and the crew easily lifted both of our machines into place within the hold of the small vessel. We were now ready to cross the open ocean along with 10 passengers in total. Luckily for us the ocean was calm and we didnt have excessive thrashing from the waves.

The Captain who is a local from Supzurro was a gruff jerk off who figured he was some sort of big wig treated us like a couple of lesser individuals.....scally wags! Grants bike, which I might add was tied down by the locals (incompetence runs rampid down here) began falling over into my bike. We requested the boat to stop so we could readjust but the prick yelled to us Gringos to sit down and informed us that we would be paying extra for the 30 second delay. Alas, everyone calmed down and Grants bike was uprighted with no damages.

We finally pulled into Sapzurro roughly 1.5 hours after departure. After dropping off the local passengers the Captain of the launcher informed us that we needed to hurry up. He was such an asshole that I wanted to strangle him. Using the mast we winched Grants bike up and onto the deck with no problems. Next was my bike. The captain yelled to me to toss Leonardo the bow line. Of course his mate being an incompetent local never organized the rope so it was completely tangled. After calling me a dumb white cunt! He reversed the engine and came in fast toward the sailboat effectively cracking my windshield which was overhanging the gunnels of the launcher. I yelled at the asshole and subsequently I got yelled at by Leonardo.....Leonardo needs this man and had to pretend to be on his side. In the end my bike got loaded with no further problems.

The next order of the day was to get our passports stamped in Caparguna. This involved walking up and over a jungle mountain and along a rooty muddy path. I enjoyed the hour and a half hike and also enjoyed arriving in the Town of Caparguna. The immigration office there was very basic and had a mascot who was a large orange tiger striped Tom Cat. In 5 minutes our passports we stamped and now all we needed to do is find someone to bring us back by boat to Supzurro. Simply looking around standing still promped the locals to inquire what we needed. Youre always being watched! In 2 minutes we had a nice and friendly captain who was willing to sail us the 10 minues around the shore to the Yacht.

Arriving at the dock in Sapzurro which is merely a concrete pier with 2 military Marine boats tied up we happend to notice that the military was gearing up for a nighttime patrol. Roughly 15 men decked out in Fatigues all touting machine guns silently slipped out of the shallow bay in their 30 foot by 10 foot wide boat touting triple 350 horse power outboard engines.

After a short walk along the unpolluted garbageless beach we found the dingy in the dark and together Leonardo, Paola, Grant and I paddled back to the Yacht for a feed of pasta, and red wine to cap the evening.

The cabin is a spacious 15 foot wide area with 6 foot plus celings. Alas, it is a working boat and is cluttered and kind of dirty. This however is nothing new to me as I have been dirty and sweaty now for the better part of 7 months.

So far Leonardo and his daughter have been slightly entertaining. Hands waiving, loud talking, yelling at times, emotional, cry babies at times, but generally good hearted individuals ready to argue about anything. We will see how the relationship kindles over the 3 to 5 day passage as the absent minded physics genius runs around the yacht meanwhile getting us eventually to Panama by passing the Darrien Gap.

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