Posted by: Sailing Camelot | December 24, 2012

West Lemmon Cays, Kuna Yala – Dec 17th to 24th

After the spectacular colors and dramatic scenery of the East Lemmon Cays I must admit the Western sister islands don’t impress me much at a first glance… But maybe I’m unfair and should give it some time before jumping to conclusions.

The weather is awful: thick cloud cover, plus heavy and incessant winds, plus intermittent squalls equal a very grumpy Lori and an irritable Tom. That could influence my perception for sure!

Anyway, with some difficulty we finally find a place to anchor. This anchorage is quite crowded, there must be about 30 boats or so, but there’s room for everybody including us.

Dodging a reef here and another boat there, we eventually manage to settle in.

Between squalls we get incredible rainbows and pretty dramatic clouds; there’s still beauty to be found even in greyness…

I didn't go look for the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

I didn’t go look for the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. It would have required scuba gear…

One of Mother Nature's artful compositions

One of Mother Nature’s artful compositions

There’s a small bar on one of the islands, Isla Elefante, where we find Internet coming in via satellite. It’s sort of old style and you plug your computer in via cable; there are three cables so three users can be connected at a time. It’s slow to start with and gets slower when more than one user is online. BUT, it works!  So I’m grateful to be able to get my fix.

Tom catching some Internet at the Elefante Bar

Tom catching some Internet at the Elefante Bar

The Kuna Indians on this teeny island are industrious; they provide beer, rum, wine and sodas at the bar (I recommend the Kuna Libre!) and even simple meals with previous agreement. They run a water taxi service to neighboring islands for simple provisioning, they organize shopping trips to Panama City as needed and –most important- they safely disposing of the cruisers’ trash.

The Trash Problem plagues every cruiser. It’s incredible how much of it we manage to pile up, and disposing of it responsibly requires some ingenuity and a lot of common sense.


Overlooking part of the anchorage from the Elefante Beach

Overlooking part of the anchorage from the Elefante Beach


Isla Elefante, where they even decorate the Palm Tree trunks!

Isla Elefante, where they even decorate the Palm Tree trunks!

Here on Isla Elefante trash is accepted for a fee of $1 per bag, collected in a separate corner of the island and burned periodically. The aluminum cans are separated and sold to Colombian traders for recycling.

The first rule here in Kuna Yala is: do NOT give your trash bags to just any Kuna islander for disposal. They usually take your tip for this service, then turn around the corner and toss the trash into the ocean. If you don’t like to see trash littering these gorgeous beaches and crap floating on the water, remember this rule.

We spend our days mostly on the boat, hiding from the weather, hoping for the rainy season to end before we have to leave…

Me, busy playing Scrabble during yet another squall.

Me, busy playing Scrabble during yet another squall.

There are some rare but welcome periods of sunshine; as soon as we see a break in the clouds, we hop in the dinghy with our snorkeling gear and run over to one of the reefs – there are so many all around the islands!

As it turns out, the underwater world more than compensates for the lesser beauty of above. It is indescribably beautiful and incredibly colorful, just a couple of feet under the surface. Truly a world apart…

A string of underwater pictures follows at the end of my ramblings – you certainly won’t need any commentary to go with them.

Another display from Mother Nature's Art Gallery

Another display from Mother Nature’s Art Gallery

If you need relaxing, this is a good sight...

If you need relaxing, this sight can help…

We’re still here at Isla Elefante and it’s now Christmas Eve.

We’ll spend Christmas here then we’ll probably leave in a couple of days or so to go hunting for more uninhabited islands to enjoy.

It will be a while before I can update the blog again.

The rough plan is to be leaving Kuna Yala and the rest of Panama by January 10th, bound for Isla Providencia – a Colombian island off the coast of Nicaragua. I know, confusing. More about that at a later time…

So may these images entertain you until the next time. They are my Christmas present to you.

May your Holidays be filled with love, harmony and joy.   To everyone,


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  1. All I can say is WOW. Merry Christmas from Bil and Bev in Boise

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