We are leaving…..

So January was busy with Charlie’s birthday stuff. It was difficult to decided what he will get as so close to Christmas…he is desperate for a bike but where do you pedal in San Blas eventually? So he got lots of little things and lunch in Mc Donalds followed by happiland. Where you pay for rides and games. Great fun. Cake and play outside minimarket with the usual crowd of people like Stewart and Natalie and her cousin Santiago. He is 5! Wow,
So Charlie’s time here in Santa Marta has been full of injuries, 3 with ambulance call out. The last time he was rock hopping and a very strong gust of wind blew him over and of course massive gash in his chin….it was actually really funny, I laughed and then waited to see him hobbling back to see how bad…well our lunch cancelled and a call for the nee – noo. He can also gets rid of the poison dots. Little white dots that sometimes pops up on legs or arms and he bravely gets a needle and pops them himself. Well proud of that!
He has also learnt to read. How amazing mainly thinking that it’s me who has taught him that and I’m not even English!!! He loves it. Insists to read every day and I love it. I want my children to love books.

James’s time here has been about football. He has gone from one who wasn’t interested one bit of it to football mad. He plays 3 times a week at Los Troncos football club. He has also been twice to proper matches at the weekend and the team are getting better. Went from 11-0 lost to a win of 2-0 last time. What an achivment. Well proud of him. His school is going fine with a bit of fighting about it every now and then. Where as Charlie who was hard work last year has gone to love school and just gets on with….watching James throwing his weight about….
James has also got a great skill of removing splinters, one in and James is there and removes it in a flash. And a good job he does as well.

Alice or Alicia as she now reacts to is funny and loveable. Always happy in the morning (unlike me) goes to Natalies every morning for 2 hours to play as the school did close down and it’s so much more fun there while we school the boys. She is learning lots of Spanish with Rosemary and goes in with a big “Buenos diaz, como estas” (good morning, how are you)
She scoots and can ride the balance bike and love when you read for her. Her hair is a tangled mass every morning and she loves playing in the water. She is also dropping the afternoon sleep most days so comes to the evening she looses her plot. Then she cries that she can’t find the plot….she watches dvd in the afternoon or ddd as she calls it.

They all can ride their scooters on the pavements here when we go into town which is a challenge with all the mad car drivers and plenty of pedestrians. They are used to see army men and police everywhere and they all have guns, even private security men. To them now an every day thing. Luckily we haven’t seen anything nasty.

Chris went back to States to finish off the private pilot exam and now he is a fully qualified pilot to work on private planes. He still needs to go back to do the commercial side of it. When, we don’t know as money short at the moment. It wasn’t a cheap thing to do!

And then there is Loca Breeza….we can hear her coming miles away, whistling down the mountains and slamming into the marina and boats….yes, the wind. The locals calls it crazy wind as she comes from Sierra Nevada in a nano second, blows up a massive storm and disappears as quickly again. Drives us mad!!! Sun shade up. Sun shade down, up, down, up….

I have also spent some money on the dentist. They are excellent here in Colombia. Changed few old fillings to nice white ones and she also did an super super job of tidying my front teeth up. Never been happy with them, funny shape and discoloured but she has done magic. Well pleased with it. Lucky that dentist trip seems to be more lucky then the haircuts!

So there we are.

Now we are planning to leave for the San Blas Islands that lies outside Panama. Over 300 islands and only about 50 or so with people on them. Home to the Kuna Indians so should be interesting. Some tricky navigation coming up so doing my homework and pouring over charts and reading up about it. Love doing it.
Looking to go end of march and then following the weather window to hopefully have a smooth couple of days of sailing. Just one little problem….still waiting for Charlie’s passport. Yes he is here with no passport. But it should come sooooooooon……..


A bit of this and that


How time flies and things happends…..Christmas been and gone and soon a new year, scary as we have been here forever and a day! Or so it feels.
Chris came back from States and not done the final test. So we are still in limbo land. But we got busy to sort Christmas out. Santa marta put up a lot of lights and all looking good. Christmas Eve the marina gave everybody in the marina a free dinner and of course we stayed there until the end…one sleeping on the boat, one in pushchair and one in my lap. Christmas Day was all fun and noisy and lot of presents and that’s where the problem is….where do we put it all? The boat is not a boat anymore but a home, everything is out and we could never go anywhere as it is now. Oh well, we don’t even know what we are doing.
Later on in the day we went to Stewarts for the dinner. Chris brought back Brussels sprouts from States ( yak! ) as you can’t get them here very often, turkey stuffed and port. The usual crowd from marina was there with few of Stewarts friend and it was fun. Boys on iPad and girls playing with bikes. The evening went from sitting down and listening to music to everybody dancing…we left 2 am. Alice in pushchair and both boys awake.
Must admit that next day I felt tired! Got to the beach with James new metal detector and found not treasure yet but few screws and nails. Good fun though.

So Boxing Day later on we went back to Stewarts as this time his girlfriends side of the family came as well. Met most of them before and trying the spanish bit for awhile to see them prepare the Buffet food and drinks flowing. The evening again went from chit chat to dancing and fighting who get to choose the music. It went from Latin to abba to sand dance and country, absolutely hilarious! Went home at 3 am with one in push chair, one in arms and one awake. Needless to say that next day we were on our knees with tiredness. Just about recovered now :)))

The kids play school finished few weeks before Christmas and sad to say that it might not open again due to money. So will see end of January. Here in Colombia this season is the biggest holiday season, running almost whole December and schools back end of January. Now, our plans…yes we swing wildly from day to day. Chris got to go back in January to finish off the exam and when he comes back we might move on….if we do it will be straight to San Blas islands outside Panama. There Chris can then study for the commercial bit and in Panama the boat can be hauled out. We will see…..I feel it’s time to move on and so does Chris. You suddenly just come to a conclusion and a feeling that we have done Colombia, that this is not the place we want to stay as we have been here so long….but of course that could all change if a job comes a long but even then….time to go. Santa Marta has been good to us and we will leave some great friends behind but so life goes….

We want certainly still do few bits like the amazon and Peru but luckily we can still fly from Panama or go from Ecuador when we eventually get there.
The Spanish is getting easier as in understanding and picking up lots of new words but they still talk to fast and with a twang.
Before Christmas we took the kids to the cold room. Oh yes. Here you PAY to feel cold and snow. Bloody mad. You know what I think of that! You go, I’m NOT! So they pay to stand in snow and cold, in croc shoes and shorts and a borrowed coat…..Charlie lasted 1 min. The other two 3 min. to then go back in. Chris in flip flops….funny. I show locals pictures from fb pages from Finland and they just can’t get the idea that there is such places and I’m from there. We still get stopped a lot from people who wants pictures of the kids as they are blond and they still get called monos= monkeys….

So there are few thoughts….now we are looking forward to the new year and Charlie’s birthday in January!

He is back……


So finally he came back….and surprised us all by turning up a day to early….I was happily in bed asleep when there is this knocking going on and saw it was Stewart, told him to piss off and to then hear “it’s your hubby here” Well sure enough, there he was and asking for a glass of wine at 11.30pm…of course! 3 bottles later Stewart left and we crawled to bed. Strange to have somebody next to me again, SNORING!

Next morning kids didn’t realised that he was home even as the biggest bag sat in the middle of the floor and they kept climbing over it. Funny, kids. The joy when they did realise and the face of Chris being mobbed down, I bet he wished he was back in the room in Florida…

So we had 3 weeks of fun, company and help. The school started again and everything goes into a rut. Got offered a job in the marina, nice to be thought of but no…..why would I want to employ a nanny to do a job I don’t have to do but here everybody has got one, plus the cleaner and the cook etc…
Weekends spent at different pools and enjoying our usual curry night and roast on the sunday.
And we also had James 8th birthday. Wau, my big boy….got a skateboard that he wished for and a day spent at this posh place called Maman cana. Sited on a ancient Tayrona Indians sacred place, it’s a pool, relax place with great views, stunning pools and the zip wire…of course! The boys had a great run on it, screaming they way down, totally pumped up with adrenaline. As we came to leave the heavens opened and the rain lashed down, never seen anything like it…maybe we upset a spirit some where????

So the day came again for Chris to leave. Another 4 weeks in Florida to do his instrument training and this time I was on my own…dreading it! Lucky it was a sunday so we had the roast to look forward to but boy do I have to be organised again. And the schooling and the rest. lucky we got this nursery/school around the corner where I introduced Alice to go to for 3 mornings and Charlie for 2. Hopefully they will learn some Spanish as mine is very slow….desperately trying to learn but limited memory, to busy…and I love to talk. So not be able to talk as I want is pretty shit. Anyway, I’m not leaving South America until I at least got a some Spanish….so that’s where we are for the moment with lots of more details to come but now off to bed,


The normal life is chasing us

Our days here in Santa Marta is falling into a routine….school, food shopping, washing, cooking. I mean we do it anyway but in a different location and that makes it fun! Now I feel trapped. Why? Because we are still here for few reasons.
Chris got talking to Stewart the helicopter pilot and there is lots of jobs around here or in the world for that matter as a private pilot. Now Chris has always had the dream but never the time or money and now this opportunity popped up….so we went through the finances and yes, we can just about do it. Chris got to go to Florida for 6 weeks to start off with and another 5 weeks to follow after. Cool! Why not.
Our days up to that moment went preparing the boat for me on my own like full gas bottles, diesel lots of bulk buy of food and of course wine etc. I went into a mode of just go and get it over and done with….
When the day was here it was awful. Kids upset, I cried and generally just felt lonely. Bloody great. 6 weeks….lucky mum was coming after 2 weeks.
Did another week of schooling so that when mum was over it was James summer holiday. Found another pool to go to, run by the Colombian army that had bigger water slides and trampolines. Our days got into a funny routine while waiting…a lot of dvd and playing games and in the evening me sitting in front of the computer googling what ever…

So finally mum came over. The heat knocked her flat, the kids knocked the will to live out of her with all their energy but at least I had company and help when out and about :))) Went to Cartagena for 4 days as a mini holiday and that was good fun. A bus journey for 4 hours with a crazy driver but boys happy with ipads and Alice sleeping most of the journey…an empty bottle for boys to pee in and potty in a bag for Dotty ( Chris nickname for Alice )
Apartment with pool and rooms with tv. Happy days!!!

Cartagena is like Santa Marta but more historic buildings and bigger. A big Spanish fort, Fort Felipe where we trawled through some small under ground tunnels in half dark and slightly jumpy….well, you never know what lurks down there…like some other crazy tourists or ghosts or what ever. Don’t like scary places…
It was immensely hot and the best the kids found was the usual square with pidgeons. Honestly, travel the world and what sticks to their little minds? Scaring pidgeons :)))
Back from Cartagena you pass this very big slum area….sad to see. No running water or toilets and just surrounded by so much rubbish as that doesn’t either get picked up. The poverty is every where….

So, nice to be back yet again on the boat and days spent around different pools or just chilling. Before I understood it, it was time for mum to go home. Very sad…and yet again I sat on my own googling what ever in the evenings…on the bright side Chris was coming home. How much have the kids changed in 6 weeks. A lot I hope. they have all grown, Alice talks proper sentences and throws proper tantrums. Charlie and James got interested in cooking, good at sharing one dvd player as the other one was nicked off the bus going to Cartagena and very good at tidying stuff away after meals…excellent at fighting each other with sticks and of course Charlie lost one of his brand new crocs down the rocks where they are forever hopping on to the amusement for the locals.

They have also got a local kid as a friend, we always see him at the beach and none of us understand each other but still good fun….so yes, things are moving forward….


And the journey goes on…..


So the following morning we got up and had actually a very good breakfast. Downside was that our flight wasn’t until 5 pm….and we were in the middle of motorways so nowhere to go….boring! So after tv and faffing around we went to the airport. And had an McDonald’s…..as you do.
The flight to Bogota went without any problems and all we had to do was to find a cheap hotel near the airport. No worries, they punt hotels at the arrivals, took a while to get our bags so by the time we were in the taxi Alice and Charlie were asleep. The hotel was basic but 3 double beds in the room, fab!

The following morning we went back and had to sort out our lost flights with avianca. All we had to do was pay $25 per person and we had our flight sorted. If it would have been so easy…

Of course we found this little wine bar and sat down and had few glasses. Alice sleeping and boys on iPad. Happy days? Yes until Alice woke up crying and itching all on her front. This weird rash appeared from nowhere and spread around her body in front of our eyes….what the heck???? So stood there and a doctor walked by and stopped and said you better go to the airport hospital….oh here we go again….so ambulance picked us up, the wheelchair, pushchair but only two cabin bags:)))

So off we went and they gave her some anti something and the rash disappear. Just like that. Ok, let’s go, we can still get this flight to Santa Marta…..we made it! Our friend Stewart picked us up, the heat knocked us down and to the marina we went. The first thing Charlie did was to limp out and drag his plastered leg to his beloved rocks and just sat there looking at the sea…he was home and I just choked up…still do when I think about that moment….

So nice to be back? Yes it was. The feeling lasted about 10 min until I saw what a mess the boat was in….dirty, dusty on the outside but luckily fine inside. What a job to get her clean again. Went out for something to eat and Alice fell asleep in her pushchair and the boys in the wheelchair….I think this wheelchair could be useful:)))

So here we are back in Santa Marta and a whole new chapter in our lives is about to open up for us. We will stay here for awhile as Chris got a possible job opportunity but that’s for next time:)


Trying to catch up…..


Trying to get my lazy backside to gear and carry on the writing…just been a bit busy here on my own as Chris in Florida…another story!

So our journey from London to Detroit after I moved our bloody cabin bags and kids out of the way was Chris got back with us in time but boy did we have to leg it for the flight…onboard we got and happy days until landing in Detroit. We had to go through passport control again and needless to say with 2 h we didn’t make it. I was fuming standing in that line with nobody to collar and shout at, kids playing up and no water to drink. Moody bloody finn alright!!! So there we were and flight gone…so get the next one, great no prob so off we went to the gate to then be told we don’t have an ESTA.” Yes we do, look in your computer.” “We can’t see it” “not my problem” we do have it otherwise we wouldn’t be standing here…so eventually we got onboard but they were about to see a seriously angry moody finn. So off we went and flew to Atlanta and of course no more flights to Bogota. We were all tired and Delta trying to wash their hands off their responsibility but we managed to get them to pay for the hotel that night. Not a great one but fine…and then you get selfish single/couples jumping at the check in even if they can CLEARLY see 3 children and broken leg etc. So I stood there watching and every single one just went pass and tried not to look to guilty as they got their key…so our turn. No rooms left…what exactly do you mean “no rooms left?” I did ask with very CONTROLLED voice about to murder somebody…well, no rooms left! I just stood there looking at the women NOT understanding what she was saying. Eventually she rang another dump across the road and phoned the buss driver back to get us to finally get a room with 2 double beds. Interesting….me and Alice in one, sideways so I could pinn her to the side and Chris and the boys in the other, sideways, no luggage, no wash stuff, no fresh clothes but a good night sleep….




So there we were at Santa Marta airport waiting to board the plane. Strange….everybody had winter jackets on and generally warmly clothed….anyway, boarded and got on. In Bogota I then understood why everybody had warm clothes on…it was freezing! Well 17c but still freezing for us. Taxi to the hostel, paid and in. The Masaya hostel in old Bogota was just great. Very hippy in everything and slightly surprised to see kids but so welcoming. We had a room to ourselves with 5 beds in it and shared bathroom. The hostel cat had 4 kittens so kids happy. We could buy breakfast at $2/pp, clean and silence at 10pm. Suited us perfect.

Old Bogota is beautiful, also we could walk to the other tourist areas and we went to see the world famous gold museum. Amazing displays of art and every day things from so long ago. We also saw the emerald museum where James had the strop as he wanted to buy an emerald but of course we couldn’t afford it….did read somewhere that you can apparently buy emeralds for as little as $10 but obviously not here. We walked and enjoyed the city and people but of course all through this I kept thinking of Chico. Now I saw street children but luckily no really little ones as I would probably take them with me…but sad anyway…nowhere to go except underground, living in the sewage system and if you google youtube for streetkids in Bogota you will find some chocking footage and stories. There is few charities that give them food and washing facilities and you can also sponsor a child to help him go to school…most of them are on drugs and surviving on petty theft but what would you do if nobody has ever wanted you, nobody cares, you are invisible to everybody around you and even the country sends death squad out occasionally and cleanses the street….heartbreaking!!!!
We also saw the underground salt Cathedral, an hours bus drive from Bogota. Only three in the world. Amazing place.
So time came to take the flight to London via JFK airport and arrived Saturday morning to a freezing London and a freezing house. We were staying at a friends house in Solesbridge lane and they had gone that morning for a week away. Made cups of tea, enjoyed the tv and of course the kids went bonkers at the space and toys that Toby has! Afternoon sleep and cross the road to see few more friends and kids to play with….late night! But oh so much fun to see everybody.

Mum came on sunday from Finland and we all settled in to seeing people, going to London and playing in the garden. And then the awful thing happened! Went to friends 50th birthday party and Charlie broke his leg on the trampoline….I just bawled my eyes out, devastetad for him and all our plans for parks and museums etc. Whole leg in plaster, A & E in Watford was great and back home with a zimmer frame and a very sad Charlie in a lot of pain. Well mum back to Finland, Toby and family back home and then a whole lot of minecraft as Charlie could join in. Couldn’t go to London on my own but we managed LEGOLAND and London zoo with Tamla, thank you!!!

We went to school and saw lots of James classmates and had play dates and play time on the common, joined in an few toddler groups for Alice….and so the days went by and time to pack our rubbish back into 5 bags. Cheese from Finland and teabags, mint sauce and salad cream from Uk plus all the other bits we needed for the boat. Borrowed a scale to make sure we were under 23 kg and all looking good. Thank you Chris and Kathy for letting us stay in your home, hopefully we weren’t to annoying!

So off to the airport and little did we know what palaver we would have with our bags…every single bag was over the limit, more to the 30kg…and flying Delta they would have none of it. So off to the side and reshuffle and pack again. Lucky we had an extra bag that we could make as a cabin bag and our cabin bags were suddenly stuffed. Hated it. I travel light on cabin bags and now we looked like we never been anywhere before as we dragged our 5 bloody cabin bags around the airport and dreading to stuff it in the lockers on the plane. We also had 2 connections to deal with plus Charlie in a wheelchair and Alice in pushchair…it would get worse….

Came to security check and what did I have in one of the bloody cabin bags? A neuff gun…well, that went down well with security….as Chris then starts to take the mickey. ” Yeah, killer gun, be afraid etc” So they were getting rather stroppy and me? Just embarrassed! Off to check in again for Chris to check the gun in. Couldn’t leave it as Tamla bought it for the boys and could you imagine 2 boys and 1 gun? Not worth it. Nearly missed the plane with all this but you should have seen me trying to move from the security on my own with wheelchair, pushchair, 5 bloody cabin bags….good buy London….we all made the first flight….