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Saturday, March 8, 2014

Day 318 Saturday March 8, 2014

While in Panama I stayed at Panama House B&B in the central city where I met other motorcycle adventure riders. Panama House is a staging point for travelers to meet and ride together to the port on the San Blas Archipelago where the bikes were loaded on the Stahlratte for passage to Cartagena. There are no roads from southern Panama to northern Colombia. This missing link in the PanAm highway is called the Darien Gap and must be sailed around. The Darién Gap is a break in the Pan-American Highway consisting of a large swath of undeveloped swampland and forest within Panama's Darién Province in Central America and the northern portion of Colombia's Chocó Department in South America. It measures just over 160 km (99 mi) long and about 50 km (31 mi) wide.

On the morning of March 3rd we arrived and six bikes were loaded from a dock directly onto the Stahlratte and at about noon we departed the dock and sailed to some uninhabited islands where we stayed until the morning of the 5th when the anchor was hoisted and we set sail for Cartagena, Colombia. It took 28 hours to make the passage and about half of the passengers were seasick and slept for most of the voyage. Thankfully I was not one of them, but I was never able to find my sea legs and just getting around on the boat was a struggle.

We arrived in Cartagena Harbor at 9:00AM on the 6th and went directly to Colombian immigrants and were stamped into the country. Afterwards all the bikers were returned to the boat and at 1:30PM the bikes were offloaded onto a barge and transported to shore where we rode directly to customs and the bikes were cleared into Colombia. Afterwards five of us came to Hostel Amber, a short walk from the Old City, where are staying.

Leaving Panama House with Ewa Domagala, Sheldon Thomson and David Mobley.

Loading bikes onto the Stahlratte.

Entering Cartagena Harbor

 Jeffery Polnaja relaxing on the Stahlratte. Jeffery is from Indonesia and started his mission in 2006 and Colombia is the 87th country his adventure has taken him too. He started Ride for Peace and has been carrying a message of world peace around the world. He left us today at Hostel Amber to make a speaking engagement in Bogota, Colombia in a few days. I have been following Jeffery for a couple of years and had no idea we would travel together on the Stahlratte.

The Cartagena skyline

One of the San Blas Islands

Our cook out on an uninhabited island. Pictured are Sheldon Thomson (Australia), Ewa Domagala (Poland) and our Kaptain Ludwig (Germany).

I was surprised to see the US Coast Guard checking out boats this far from home.

Sunset under sail in the Caribbean Sea.

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