Well, where do I start….?

So much has happened, good and bad things so blog will be a bit jumpy…..
In St. Augustine at the moment for Chris to finish off his flying. He is doing his commercial, cfi and multi engine so he is a busy boy indeed. Cfi stands for flying instructor. We are here for 10 weeks. Awfully nice to live in a flat and have a car to use, music blaring and TV on….unlimited access to Internet….but my brains are frazzled! Couldn’t understand why I was so tired the first week here and the kids until I realised I have surrounded to an awful lot of noise from a very quiet environment! Shocking!
Anyway, Christmas has been and gone, everybody happy and didn’t go silly on food. Chris works every day so Christmas Day was the only day off so far.
We had a blast on new year with our new found friend and daughter who also happens to rent half of their house out, so we moved out from a very expensive ocean village condo to her place. Cheaper rent and much more fun for the kids.

So, let’s track back, about Charlie’s passport. The whole process went stupid and as usual left hand doesn’t talk to right hand. We ended up getting a emergency passport and finally we left Santa Marta. All very exiting and no time to grieve, just desperate to get a move on! And so we did, beautiful afternoon and soon the dreaded night time came. When things start to go wrong. Auto helm packed up so we are hand steering, not use to anything moving on the boat, pain in the backside waives and totally sleep deprived in the morning. So shame to admit but we popped in to Cartagena for a rest! Hahaha…only one night though. We were illegal there as well as we had checked out already.
Another day and night and we came to San blas and a island called Isla pinjos.
Reading and rereading the famous Bauhaus book about San blas and a must have to get around tricky reefs for new comers like us this island has a very easy approach. Very shallow water so we hold our breath and scraped our way in 10 feet, 3,2meters. Our draft is 2.8 feet, 3 meters. All good.
Lovely island with a little kuna village and a beach as well. We realised very quickly that most populated islands don’t have a beach area anymore as they build their huts and toilets all the way to the edges. Yep, that’s the toilets, huts over water so everybody can see what falls out….
We had a nice meal in a kuna Indians hut, met his family and wished we could speak more Spanish. Although they have their own language most learn Spanish in school. Bought a beautiful mola that the women make, a piece of fabric they use as a part of a shirt and Chris taught English in the little school for 3 mornings. Such a lovely , beautiful people and such a eagerness to learn…..puts my kids to shame!
The beach was great but so much litter, nappies and plastic bottles everywhere and nobody tried to clean it up. In matter of fact the nappie got changed and then tossed in the sea….strange indeed.
We also got to meet all the Chiefs from all the islands as they had a big meeting there, in congresso. Congresso is the place they meet every night and all disputes and troubles get solved. Nice!
After 5 days we continued our journey to ustupu but of course not before we slammed the boat on ground on a sandbank. Bloody hell, talk about NOT looking when we left. Luckily all good, just reversed and carried on with heart pumping and a very good reminder to have your eyes open!!!
Will carry on tomorrow! :)))

Back in the system


Well finally I got back into my own blog. I’m not a whizz kid with these things but trying to get into it from a different country or a computer is a nightmare.
So from last time we have gone through hell with Charlie’s passport, celebrated my birthday, done the San blas Islands, lots of problems with the boat and now we are in Panama or right now in UK for a holiday.

So will get back really soon when I get my brain in order!!!


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… 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:)