Santa Marta… The first stop in our World ARC adventure! The place where you get surrounded by armed security when going to the gas station and find steaks the cheapest dish on the menu.
We arrived at 0800 hrs after motoring the last 10 hours due to autopilot failure. Nothing too serious, the pin connecting it to the steering quadrant came off. Overall it took us just under 5 days as we departed Saint Lucia for a 1200hrs start line. We were also full of fish as we caught a 100lbs blue marlin on the way!
The first thing which struck us was the cheapness and quality of the food; unusually steaks became the most popular dish on the menu! In the mountains of Colombia they rear cows so this makes it a cheap commodity.
After spending the day on a tour around the city showing us San Pedro Alejandrino Village, a gold museum and a historic cathedral, our first rally event was the welcome party hosted by the marina and the tourist board; the attendance by local press, government ministers and army officials made us feel very valued and that our visit was helping the local community massively. However, we weren’t sure whether being surrounded by armed police boats were meant to make us feel safe?! Also, when the rally huddled together for a photo we didn’t expect to be smiling for 15 different magazines and news channels! Moreover, Nick (or death as the media called him) shot to fame as his interview got broadcasted on national TV).
Saturday was a great day as minibuses were organised to transport the World ARC fleet to Tayrona National Park were we would spend the day having fun by the beach, snorkelling, swimming, getting to know other rally competitors and enjoying a BBQ. Regrettably, the multihulls beat the monohulls in a tug-of-war competition.
On Sunday, Josh took a charitable visit to a local school where they run the “Fundemac step by step programme” whilst the rest of the crew continued with boat jobs and went food provisioning. The school visit was a real eye opener and highlighted the difference in European education. This school is run by a charity and takes mostly orphaned children from the Colombian rainforest who don’t have access to an education and often aren’t familiar with how modern civilisation works. The results are tremendous and we were welcomed by one ex-student who is now studying for a PhD.
The whole crew were looking forward to Monday as this was the coffee plantation tour in La Victoria. The experience started with 4×4 army jeeps transporting us up the rocky paths to the plantation 3000ft above sea level. Once there, both the complementary coffee and plantation tour was very informative. The setup is very traditional and few electricity cables in sight; we do question the health and safety standards though as we were guided past fast paced belts and chambers with fire roaring out of them!
The final day entailed the Skippers briefing and the farewell party. The food and the local entertainment were great and it seemed a fitting way to say goodbye to Colombia.