Hitching on a boat

Our time in South America is fast drawing to a close. Tomorrow (8 September), we set sail for Panama, but sadly this is one ride we will have to pay for.

On Friday, as we visited Cartagena’s club nautico (the yacht club), and then the main cargo port, it quickly became clear that our hopes of hitching a ride were slim. Cargo ships, as Steve remembers from similar failures in Bangladesh, have a strict no-passenger rule. Meanwhile, all the boats leaving the yatch club are doing so to make money as passenger services. Asking for a free ride, we figure, would be rather like asking for a free ride on a bus or taxi: not only would you be unlikely to get one; it would also go rather against the spirit of things.

We hitchhike because we enjoy getting to know people, not because we’re short of cash. The beauty of hitchhiking is that you are rarely putting people out by joining them for the ride. Drivers give you because they have enough space and are heading in your direction. When it comes to the transport business, whether overland or by sea, things work rather differently, and it is not our desire to cheat anyone out of the money their service deserves.

We hope you will not think any less of us after our failure to secure a free ride. We hope too that you will not think we have now failed in our mission. Perhaps it would be more accurate to say that we have managed to hitchhike from Argentina to Colombia and then, we hope, from Panama to Alaska, but if it’s all the same to you, we’re going to continue to think of it as one journey. After all, it isn’t our fault there is no road connecting to the two. We blame the FARC.


The Delfin Solo will sail us to Panama.

Farewell then, South America. We’ve had a nice time, thanks. Here are some of the highlights of our final week:


Catching up with Facundo, brother of Flor, driver on our very first day!


Visiting another Tearfund project, this time at a school in an area of Barranquilla where drug problems are rife.


Spending time with Helen, another former colleague of Jo’s.


Cartagena. It’s beautiful. Even the walls are pretty.

Total number of lifts: 234
Week Twenty-Four distance travelled: 214 km
Total distance travelled:  27,218 km



  1. Continuing to love your write-ups and certainly don’t think less of you for appropriately paying your way across a stretch of water where hitchhiking would not be the thing. Thanks for your succinct and respect-inducing explanation. “Narnia and The North” I think is the cry in ‘The horse and his boy’ – enjoy the North as much as you did the South! Blessings, Brig

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