Traveling on a Cargo Ship On the Caribbean

While our time in Providencia was pure bliss, leaving the island was a bit of a hassle. It was as if the island wanted us to stay as much as we did.

If you read my post on San Andres’ island, then you might remember that the sea was too tumultuous for the passenger boat, the Catamaran, to leave shore. There were also no seats left on the two airlines that have flights between the two islands (Decameron and Satena) for another week. This meant something quite simple: my sister and I were stuck on the island. I wouldn’t really complain, except that I was already missing a day at work, and I couldn’t miss anymore. My best friend’s family had bought plane tickets way in advance so they were all good.

Anywho, Amiel -my mom’s friend who had invited us to dinner and helped us out- saved our life because he talked to his captain friend and hooked us up with a place on a cargo boat (they’re heavier and go slower so they were allowed to sail). Not only that, but he convinced the captain to give us one of the bunk beds reserved for the crew. He also took us to a pharmacy to buy mareol. With two pills, he said, we would be good against sea sickness and we’d slept throughout the entire trip.

After the amazing islander meal we shared with our island family, we headed to the port, where Amiel was waiting for us. He wanted to see us off and make sure we were ok. The departure was delayed because the captain had had a heart attack and was at the hospital…great, I was very reassured. Neither my sister nor I had ever been on a boat other than the sailboats you go on when you go snorkeling. This was different though, this was a cargo boat, and it was sailing from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. through shark infested waters in a sea so furious regular boats weren’t allowed to sail it.

I didn’t take a picture of our boat (Doña Olga) but this is pretty much exactly what it looked like Source:

There were around 30 other people who had been stuck on the island, and had gotten a place on the cargo boat. When the captain finally came back, I hugged everyone goodbye, thanked Amiel, and swallowed the two pills, feeling a little scared. Everyone got as comfortable as they could on the floor of the boat (remember it was a cargo boat, so there was only a table with two benches where up to 5 people fit). One of the crew members spotted us and led us to the crew cabin, which was a tiny room with two bunk beds. We got into one of the upper beds, placed both of our backpacks on the lower end of the bed and cuddled up as well as we could.

Now, I want you to understand that this was a tiny, tiny bunk bed that was holding my sister, our bags, and me. It was also so incredibly dirty it stained the clothes we used as a makeshift bedsheet for warmth. Soon after we shipped off, the boat started moving from side to side, the pills started to take effect, and I felt as if I was in a huge cradle, being rocked by the sea.

I dreamt that I was with a friend, swimming in the ocean with all the sea animals. I told him that I wanted to be confused with a whale, and imitated their movements, growing big, and crashing against the oceans with such speed I was breaking them.

It kinda looked something like this….  source:

Then we were at the Museum of Natural History in Washington DC, looking at all the taxidermied animals. The giant polar bear towered over us as my friend told me he thought it was horrible to stuff animals, that we should show them in museums decomposing as they really do. Then I was in my childhood house, I was running upstairs while a group of annoying teenagers hung around, and kept me from getting to the bathroom I desperately needed. I finally reached upstairs, so happy that the bathroom was so close, and realized I had left my keys in my bag, and the bag was downstairs. Shit. I promised the teenagers a dollar to the one who could bring me my bag the fastest,. They all stumbled over each other to get downstairs, when I realized the door was opened. I made my way to the bathroom but the teenagers showed up and demanded their dollar. I didn’t want to pay because I hadn’t needed the keys. I was so desperate I just wanted them to move, but they wouldn’t, and I was about to burst….

Then I woke up. I realized I’d been holding it for too long, and I would pee my pants if I held it in any longer. I was still drowsy from the pills, so I wasn’t thinking clearly. I jumped off the bunker without thinking of putting my shoes on, and immediately regretted it, as my socks got wet. I was so desperate I didn’t care, I just wanted to get to the bathroom. I opened the door and saw a horrible sight: people lying on the wet floor, pushed up against the walls, and shivering. I saw the bathroom and went in. There was vomit all over it. The walls, the sink, the toilet. I felt so relieved I didn’t even care. I was in a state of pure bliss, even though I was surrounded by vomit and walking on a wet floor.

I went back to the bunk bed, and started falling back to sleep, when one of the crew members opened the door and told us we had arrived. We got off the boat before the sun had risen and found out that the other passengers had had the worst night of their lives. The boat had almost flipped, they said, and all the sea water had gotten into the boat and wet the entire floor. As if that wasn’t bad enough, people had vomited all night, and everything smelled disgusting. All my sister and I could feel was eternal gratefulness to Amiel for hooking us up with a bunk bed.

our night…
           Everyone else’s night

I can’t say that it was my worst experience, but I can say that I wouldn’t like to do it again, especially if I don’t have a friend who’s close to the captain.

4 thoughts on “Traveling on a Cargo Ship On the Caribbean

    1. Haha yuuup. Good thing I was too relieved and dopey to care at the moment. I did take my socks off before I got off the ship so l didn’t have them on for too long. Silver linings, you know

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