Posted by: Sailing Camelot | February 7, 2013

40 Days in Kuna Yala (San Blas) – Feb 7th

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 …

And a very long process...

And a very long process…

It's a very precise skill!

It’s a very precise skill!

Kuna woman dressing up a tourist's ankle in their typical beads

Kuna woman dressing up a tourist’s ankle in their typical beads

I just thought these snails are beautiful...

I just thought these snails are beautiful…

Off they go, looking for tourist to sell their wares to...

Off they go, looking for tourist to sell their wares to…

Kuna woman getting redy to go on a selling trip

Kuna woman getting redy to go on a selling trip

Kuna woman with her child

Kuna woman with her child

Little bay in Salardup

Little bay in Salardup

Waiting for the sunset

Waiting for the sunset

Walking in Paradise

Walking in Paradise

My favorite Islander

My favorite Islander

Looking at open sea from Salardup

Looking at open sea from Salardup

I just LOVE palm trees!

I just LOVE palm trees!

Te "Promenade" on Salardup

Te “Promenade” on Salardup

Walking on Salardup

Walking on Salardup

That hammock has my name on it!

That hammock has my name on it!

Essential Island Life equipment...

Essential Island Life equipment…

View from the Island

View from the Island

Salardup, my favorite of them all!

Salardup, my favorite of them all!

Approaching Salardup

Approaching Salardup

Green Island

Green Island

The beauty below...

The beauty below…

Lone Star

Lone Star

A very fun Kayak trip!

A very fun Kayak trip!

Tom leading our circumnvigation of Green Island

Tom leading our circumnvigation of Green Island

Local inhabitants of Green Island

Local inhabitants of Green Island

Tom walking the perimeter...

Tom walking the perimeter…

I could have sat here forever...

I could have sat here forever…

Another side of Green Island

Another side of Green Island

An unforgettable sight off Green Island

An unforgettable sight off Green Island

Dingy parking spot

Dingy parking spot

Green Island

Green Island

The clearest waters I've ever seen!

The clearest waters I’ve ever seen!

Green Island

Green Island

Me signing the passenger manifest

Me signing the passenger manifest at the Corazone de Jesus Airport

Aerial view of Panama City

Aerial view of Panama City

 

Approaching Cayo Holandes

Approaching Cayo Holandes

Aerial view of Panama City

Aerial view of Panama City

Aerial view of some of the San Blas islands

Aerial view of some of the San Blas islands

Part of Kuna Yala

Part of Kuna Yala

View from above

View from above

The embarassing moment: weighting the passengers...

The embarassing moment: weighting the passengers…

I got to fly on this one...

I got to fly on this one…

The puddlejumper arriving

The puddlejumper arriving

Corazon de Jesus airport

Corazon de Jesus airport

Corazon de Jesus airport in the distance

Corazon de Jesus airport in the distance

Local fauna

Local fauna

I think Tom wanted to dopt them all...

I think Tom wanted to adopt them all…

They wouldn't leave him alone!

They wouldn’t leave him alone!

Tom entertaining the Kuna kids

Tom entertaining the Kuna kids

Even men get to do chores on the river...

Even men get to do chores on the river…

Kuna family doing laundry

Kuna family doing laundry

Rio Diablo commute vehicle

Rio Diablo commute vehicle

Yes! This is perfect.

Yes! This is perfect.

Tom picking a suitable spot for us to take a bath...

Tom picking a suitable spot for us to take a bath…

Kuna family doing spending the day on the river

Kuna family doing spending the day on the river

We gave them a tow...

We gave them a tow…

Kuna family going up the river for laundry

Kuna family going up the river for laundry

We took a bath right here!

We took a bath right here!

Another villager gathering water

Another villager gathering water

My Rio Diablo guide... and husband.

My Rio Diablo guide… and husband.

Rio Diablo

Rio Diablo

These women work HARD!

These women work HARD!

Kuna woman with her load of fresh water

Kuna woman with her load of fresh water

The Church, Corazon de Jesus

The Church, Corazon de Jesus

Isla Corazon de Jesus

Isla Corazon de Jesus

Downtown Nargana

Downtown Nargana

Typical abode on Nargana Island

Typical abode on Nargana Island

The locals paddle up the river to get fresh water every day.

The locals paddle up the river to get fresh water every day.

Entrance to Rio Diablo, Nargana

Entrance to Rio Diablo, Nargana

At anchor in Nargana

At anchor in Nargana

Tortuga Beach - again!

Tortuga Beach – again!

Calming view...

Calming view…

Tortuga Beach

Tortuga Beach

Isla Tortuga

Isla Tortuga

Sunken fishing boat off Coco Banderos

Sunken fishing boat off Coco Banderos

Coco Banderos

Coco Banderos

Camelot at rest in Coco Banderos

Camelot at rest in Coco Banderos

Ray Alert!

Ray Alert!

Greetings! The water is 24 feet deep here...

Greetings! The water is 24 feet deep here…

Amazing how the palm trees always find a way to thrive

Amazing how the palm trees always find a way to thrive

Goodbye, Salardup! Definitely my favorite place in the whole San Blas...

Goodbye, Salardup! Definitely my favorite place in the whole San Blas…


Responses

  1. Fantastic photos!

    Art Lee WF6P


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