We have made it into Panama and all is well on Camelot!
We are currently at 7 degrees North Latitude, or about 2800 Air Miles from San Francisco, CA. This is about as far South as we will travel. It is hard for me to wrap my mind around our latest routes, especially after sailing the California coast so long in a North-South direction. Panama City & the famous Canal are actually northeast of our current position and we will have to travel east and then north to get there.
After leaving Costa Rica we sailed into the Western Islands of Panama and anchored at Isla Parida for a few days. While out kayaking, we met a nice family of indigenous Indians living on the island. It was really kind of surreal, since they spoke very little Spanish and of course we spoke no Indian. Through hand gestures we understood that they wanted Lori to take photographs of their family. We readily agreed and after a quick costume change by the family, Lori took pictures of them. A few hours later, with the photos printed out, we returned to the beach where the family was anxiously waiting for them. It was truly humbling We realized that the mother’s only true desire was to capture her children in photographs. Then to our surprise they handed us four of the biggest avocados we have ever seen! But the biggest prize of all was seeing their delighted faces.
The next day we motor sailed to Isla Coiba, the largest Island in Central America. It is also a World Heritage Site and critically endangered. We soon discovered that in order to discourage visitors and allow the island to recover, the Panama Park system changes $60 (US) per night to anchor and $20 (US) per person to walk onto the Island. That was a little rich for our blood, so we just spent the night and departed early the next morning.
We are currently anchored in Bahia Honda, a 2 mile wide bay with a large island (Isla Talon) in its center. It is very primitive, with no roads in or out, but there about 1000 Panamanians and Indiginous people living in small houses throughout the bay . All travel around the bay is done by dugout canoe, motorized pangas or on horseback. The nearest doctor, large stores or government facilities is about a four hour motorboat ride away in Santiago, Panama.
Isla Talon has a small Pueblo (Village) with a small store, five cantinas (!) and primary and secondary schools for the local children. The remainder of the residents live along the shore of the bay. Employment here is mostly fishing or farming, but about three hundred people work for the owner of a nearby private island and a marine biology center. Also, almost everyone grows and sells fruit and vegetables.
We anchored in the north end of the Bay and soon met Senior Domingo and his extended family. Senior Domingo is an “Unofficial Ambassador” to the area. Although he has not traveled very much, he is curious about the world and we have had long talks about different countries. Senior Domingo also has a small but productive farm and of course we have traded for vegetables and fruit.
Due to the remoteness of Bahia Honda, we have had many visitors approach our boat. They are as curious about us as we are about them. Again, because of its remoteness, the people around here are always looking to trade for necessities, like batteries, flashlights, clothing and fishing equipment. I think our water line has come up about an inch as we dig out items for trade.
We would like to stay in the Western Island longer, but technically we are illegal alliens, since we haven’t officially entered Panama yet. To do that, we have to sail to Panama City our VISAs and Cruising Permit.
We should be leaving Bahia Honda by Monday and will head for Isla Cebaco and Punta Naranjo before heading on to Panama City. Our estimate arrival is Friday, 7-13-2012
“This update has been sent via Camelot’s HAM RADIO and will be update with photographs when we reach Panama City”