31 Aug 2003

Overview 31 Aug 2003
1 Apr 2002 6 Apr 2004
15 July 2002 2 Dec 2004
5 Nov 2002 13 Jan 2005
5 Feb 2003 August 2005
5 Apr 2003 April 2006

    We transited the canal without mishap, in one day, and got a night with our friends before they sailed off again. Alone once again, we spent a while in Panama City, getting boat stuff done and waiting for Chris's and my passports, which would have expired before we got to French Polynesia. I'm relieved, because I've been toting that thing around since I was nine.

Amanda (back) and Kim on an Ecuadorian bus
Amanda and Kim on an Ecuadorian bus

    After a wonderful time at the Balboa Yacht Club, swimming every night in their pool, we once again headed off to catch up with our buds. We wanted to see inland Ecuador, so we went down the coast for four days to Manta, Ecuador. In just a couple days, we were on the bus heading up for Riobamba. As comfortable as those busses are supposed to be, you don't want to spend eight hours in one. Take my word for it.

    Because Vamp had wanted to go up to the Andes as well, they had waited for us in Manta. This meant that I didn't actually devour all the books I had brought, but instead passed the time talking and laughing with Rachel. The whole trip was really cool, but I don't want to take up all the space on this page with five days. See Inland Ecuador for my thoughts.

    We spent another week or so in Manta, doing schoolwork, trying not to gag at the stench, and swimming in the pool at the yacht club. I was really looking forward to the Galapagos, which would be the first time that we could swim in the ocean since the San Blas. Most people would say they would rather have fresh water than salt, but the ocean's a heck of a lot bigger than the pool, and just to add a little flavor, Ecuador's water system is contaminated with mercury.

    We had a slow but comfortable sail, during which I turned 14, over to the Galapagos, where we once again met up with Vamp, who had left a day before us. We were greeted by a sea lion - not quite in our cockpit, but close enough. They're so adorable, and they're all over the place in the Galapagos. We've had ropes across our sugarscoops for near a month, so they can't get up past our swim platforms. It seems to have worked so far...

    While in Wreck Bay, San Cristobal Island, we took an island tour, and that was the first place I saw the Galapagos tortoise. Correction, GIANT tortoise. A little kid could ride on one of the small ones, if the tortoise wasn't scared of the kid. We also collected a few guavas, as they are introduced and people are trying to get rid of them. We didn't mind relieving them of the fruit at all.

    Dad had been having a tooth problem ever since the passage, and he didn't like the dental services in Wreck Bay, so we headed off to Puerto Ayora, a much bigger town, and met Wanderer IV, whom we had thought would be well off to the Marquesas. They introduced us to Tortuga Beach, a wonderful surf beach 3 km out of town that so totally reminds me of California. We spent many afternoons there, from about 3 - 6 pm, until... well, I'm not sure why we stopped. Perhaps it was just because we were going on a tour for a couple days.

    Tony, Dad's brother, was thrilled when we offered him down to the Galapagos. And, since we aren't allowed to go more than four anchorages in our own boat, we decided to go on a four-day tour to see some other islands. It was well worth it, in my opinion. Delicious food, a luxurious boat, beautiful islands, a wetsuit for snorkeling... yes, a wetsuit. We may be on the equator, but the Humboldt Current comes through these islands, and that makes it hard to stay in the water ten minutes even with a wetsuit, sometimes. Read more about all the cool things we saw on the Ecuador and Galapagos Destinations.

    We went to Isabela Island for just a couple days, and met up with some other kid boats we had never met before. It was fun just hanging out, or going swimming, or walking to the shark grotto. We took a horseback ride up to the volcano, and went partway around the caldera, which is the second largest in the world. It was very cool, and then we walked out to some fumaroles, where we saw a bunch of ferns growing right around the sulfur deposits, and nowhere else. Very weird.

    The passage to the Marquesas was very long, and I spent most of it reading, doing schoolwork, and sewing mosquito nets for the Marquesan no-see-ums. The wind dropped to almost nothing at some points, so Mom and I had lots of time to finish them. I also spent a lot of time playing my guitar, and thinking up funny songs.

    The Marquesas looked very green when we got there, after 24 days of ocean. And ocean, and a bit more ocean. We stayed there for a couple weeks, then headed off to the Tuamotus. I think we all would have liked to stay longer in the Marquesas and Tuamotus, but our visas were only for three months. At that, we were lucky, because the initial visa for many boats is one month.

    The Tuamotu atolls were beautiful, and wonderfully empty of boats. Not completely empty, though, and we did have a fair number of fun nights ashore with other people around a campfire, or a potluck on someone's boat. I won't go into all the details here, so if you want to know more, see the French Polynesian Destinations.

    With one more month on our visas, we decided to head off down to Tahiti. We have decided to fly home for a couple months, and we want to be in a populated area to get the final plans set. So here we are, in glorious Tahiti, and we're taking a vacation to the states... Sounds like a skewed idea to lots of people, we've found.

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