Dear Walee

Friday, 17 September 2010


Dear W.B,

There's a British bloke who's trying to set a world record by travelling through every country of the world in as short a time as possible.
His intrepid journey sees him mostly sitting on buses, on boats, on trains, trying to work out the logistics of each nation's transport systems, and rushing to catch his next connection.

He's chasing his record around the globe, as the shadows of the places he passes dart in and out of view, briefly illuminting only a glimpse of what might wait for him in another, more static world.

On Crab Racing and other Caribbean pastimes

Monday, 13 September 2010



Here's my vomit-splattered log of the 5-day sailing voyage from Cartagena, Colombia, to Panama.

Day 1

Decide last minute to join Capitan Federico and his boat, Saconagem, on a five-day sailing trip to Panama.
The boat departs from Club Nautico, a small, ramshackle tin port in the Manga neighbourhood of Cartagena.
Pot bellied, barefoot men pad around the stone harbour, tinkering with oily engine parts and calmly slicing fish bait into buckets.
The boats are slackly tied to the harbour with thick knots of rope; allowed to bump gently against plastic buoys and buckets; sandy scavenger birds hop around the gangplank freely, the waves gently lick moss from the harbour walls. This is a port of pastime and leisure, a passageway to other such places in the turquoise Caribbean sea.
Suddenly it seemed very clear; the sailing life is the life for me.
There are 10 fellow backpackers on board; the largest portion made up of laid back, beer-sipping antipodeans.
The captain, a Brazilian of French naval background, stresses that his orders must be obeyed at all times, and that he will need help with the sailing.
The boat is fuelled, the crew are sat down and the rules are set - Nautical Big Brother can begin.

Day 2

Cartagena

Saturday, 4 September 2010


For your future reference, Cartagena =

"You want Panama hat?"
"No gracias."

"You want wristband?"
"No gracias."

"You want watermelon?"
"No gracias."

Colombia - is it safe?

Wednesday, 1 September 2010


The first thing any friend or family member says when you tell them that you're in Colombia is either 'oooh... be careful', or 'oooh... snort plenty of coke for me'.
Alas, I'm not writing to you to talk about my Gran and her drug problems.

Despite all of the assurances that I would regularly see police informants being gallow-dropped out of helicopters, my first few days in Bogota was spent feeling surprisingly... safe.