The “time flies when you’re having fun” saying? It’s totally true.
Maybe because there are so many islands to see, maybe because we lost ourselves in relaxation, but forty days have gone by in a blink.
In the end we managed to visit only nine of the 365 islands; a small percentage, I know, but enough to develop preferences.
The first noticeable fact is that there are a lot more boats traveling the Caribbean Sea that what we were used to see on the Pacific side. To us newcomers, it feels downright crowded!
There’s a multitude of European vessels: for the majority French, good numbers of Spanish, Germans and Italians, and the occasional British, Swiss, Belgians, and Dutch. Canadians and Americans feel outnumbered here!
We noticed that there’s a lot less socializing and interaction going on, and more “clustering”; maybe the language barrier, maybe the cultures’ differences, but the abundant “spontaneous gatherings” we experienced in the past are a lot less frequent here.
Tom, my very sociable and outgoing husband, is somewhat disappointed. Even I, usually content in my own company (read loner), am starting to feel pretty lonely…
Thankfully, the Kuna Indians make up for the unbalance.
No matter where we are, there’s a steady stream of smiling faces approaching Camelot multiple times a day: young fishermen offering lobster, squid, or whatever the catch of the day may be, Kuna women in their Ulus (little dugout canoes) peddling their Molas (colorful panels of fabric intricately embroidered and quilted by hand) and beaded bracelets.
This is how we meet Lisa, a pretty famous local character. Lisa came by one day to say hi, welcome us to her islands and introduce herself. In pretty decent English, no less!
A Master Mola maker, Lisa is also a Kuna historian and travel guide with an engaging personality.
She is also a transvestite. As she explained, Kuna Yala is a matrilineal society, with the women controlling the financial aspects of life. If a Kuna woman gives birth to sons only, the third son will be raised as a girl for all intents and purposes. There were a lot of third sons around…
Anyway, we thoroughly enjoyed our stay, and would have prolonged it if it weren’t for a pesky mechanical problem. Our alternator quit on us.
After much debating, we decided I should fly from the island of Nargana to Panama City in hopes of resolving the issue. I flew to Panama City twice in ten days but sadly, it was all for naught; the alternator stayed dead as a doornail…
Feeling uneasy about relying too much on solar panels and generator, we decided to leave the islands and return to Shelter Bay Marina in Colon to properly and effectively address the issue.
Between waiting for the new alternator to arrive and the endless list of chores, two weeks have vaporized. But Camelot, which after a long time at sea needed some dedicated TLC, is now shiny and ready for new adventures.
I should add, after seven months in Panama, so are we… definitely!
So today we leave, bound for the island of Providencia, a couple of days’ sailing from here.
The islands of San Andres and Providencia are located about 150 miles off the coast of Nicaragua, but belong to Colombia.
So that’s it for now, we’ll report from a new Country next time!
Enjoy the pictures …