The Best Decision I Ever Made
December 13, 2017 | Mack Roth
I watched from 35,000 feet as the Yucatan Peninsula met the crystalline waters of the Caribbean. Nature’s most distinctive barrier marked both the northernmost reaches of Central America and the furthest I had ever been from home. With little travel experience, no Spanish and, rather recklessly, no vaccinations, I was now so far outside of my comfort zone it was as though I had landed in somebody else’s. Lost in thought I continued to gaze at the horizon, reflecting on the leap of faith which had led me halfway around the world on a whim. All the while the plane hurtled south, ever deeper into Latin America.
Imagine standing on a white sand beach gazing out across shimmering azure waters. Behind you, a smattering of palm trees, the sun’s dappled rays flicking through swaying fronds. Ahead no land in sight, only ocean fading gently from turquoise to deepest blue. The sleek twin hulls of a sailing catamaran rest anchored just beyond the reef. You and a handful of others the only souls for miles around. Blissfully marooned. Lost in the Caribbean.
The San Blas Archipelago to me will always be the vision of deserted island paradise. Nestled off Panama’s north coast these 365 islands are remote, undeveloped and undiscovered by mainstream tourism. We visited the San Blas while sailing with David, our soft-spoken Colombian captain who, without fail would crack his first beer with the rising sun. He oozed contentment and we couldn’t help but feel relaxed alongside him.
We spent endless hours leaping from the boat decks to the water below, snorkelling amongst coral reefs and exploring deserted islands. We sailed through churning storm swept seas and mirror flat ocean panes. We plunged into water 15,000 feet deep, opening our eyes to find sun streaked clarity stretching on endlessly. No hint of land on the horizon, only all encompassing, fathomless ocean blue. It is the closest I’ve ever come to feeling weightless.
We read, napped, drank and played cards, feasted with locals and forged lifelong friendships. We lay awake watching the heavens dance across a moonlit sea while lightning struck at the horizon. We saw green turtles, black marlin and were shaken awake to find dolphins riding our bow, inches from our fingertips, alight in the ruddy glow of the rising sun. The world and its wonders had fallen within our grasp and we savoured each salt filled and sun kissed moment. I dropped everything to follow a girl and chase a dream sailing the San Blas. My life was changed forever; it was the best decision I ever made.