We’ve spent so much time here, the friends, the anchorages, they all make the San Blas home. It’s time to skeedaddle. Panama has a limit on how long one can stay in the country and we’ve reached it. Six months and they want us out. Of course there is a Marianaras visa which matches the Cruising Permit however extending our visa to match our Cruising Permit would only add one more month to our time here.
IB and Becca on Passport had indicated they would head some E with us; but, with Emily (aka Legs) needing to leave in 3 weeks and Passport needing to head W in 4 or so they elected to hang in the Western San Blas. We indicated that any Kuna would take Legs off their hands but neither Emily or the crew of Passport thought that was a practical solution. 🙂 Galivant and Liberty too had indicated they might share in the eastward adventure but they too seem reluctant to leave the serenity of the western San Blas. We hoped that Hobo might follow a similar route as they’re planning on heading to Cartegena; however, as is usual in sailing circles, we were willing to go it alone.
We upped anchor and headed N around the Green Island group planning on staying as much inside the reefs as possible. A month or so ago we headed outside the reefs on our trip to Tigre and the seas were much larger then we wished and the ride slightly uncomfortable so we elected to stay inside the reef as much as possible heading down to Snug Harbor where we first made landfall when we had arrived in the San Blas, Panama almost one year ago.
We put the sails up and said “Good-bye” over the VHF to those in the anchorage. Before we were out of sight, Lions Paw announced over the VHF that Elysium actually has a mainsail. The distance between anchorages in the Western San Blas is so close that we’ve not felt any need to put up more then the Yankee (our headsail). Trips are usually less then 5 miles apart and for the better part of 3 months there the mainsail stayed in it’s home, covered on top of the boom.
The sail to Snug was one of the nicest we’ve had here. A 25 mile trip with about 1/2 of the way inside the reefs. Once we passed Tigre and we were outside the reefs. the seas were still half of what they had been on our last trip in this direction.
At Snug we planed to spend a couple of days filling our water tanks, reading and
enjoying the beauty of a place not often visited. Hobo (a Katy Krogan 42) came in a bit later, they did decide to head East same as us.
The following day we put the engine on the big dinghy and the five of us (W/, I, Larry, Lena, and Black Dog Morgan) and two dinghies went to see Playon Chico (the Kuna community near Snug Harbor). There Morgan was an instant hit. Most of the dogs; actually all the dogs we’ve seen in Kuna Yala are about the size of a large cat, so Morgan who is a rescue dog and a good part Border Collie was big enough that some of the Kuna kids wanted to ride him. Of course Morgan being generally calm and good natured found this to be a bit inconvenient and did his best to quietly resist. He would however let the Kuna kids take his leash and walk with them. Larry; the alpha male, kept a good eye on things but there wasn’t all that much needing to watch for.
We crossed the foot bridge connecting the mainland to the island village and crossed from one end of the island to the other. While we understand that a good part of the Ulu’s are now shaped with a chain saw there were a couple boats here being built that had an adz put to them for the finishing detail. We didn’t get to see an adz used. Damn; one tool I don’t have and don’t know how to use. 🙂 We visited a couple of Tiendas and picked up some supplies.
After a thorough tour of the village with Morgan leading 20 children down the paths between the thatched homes we began our trek across the foot bridge to the mainland where we had left our dinghies. I hung back to snap a few more pics and W/ carried on with our purchases; one bag of Kuna Bread, one bag of Cinnamon rolls and one bag of eggs. There are no cartons for eggs in Kuna Yala; once purchased they go in a very light plastic bag; eggs are purchased individually, one or a hundred – what ever you want and what ever they have. Somewhere midway across the bridge W/ decided to rearrange the goodies and there upon dropped the only bag that had something breakable in it. I came upon her stalled and close to tears (not that close) and she holding the bag out to me showing me the broken eggs, the whites and yokes oozing out the bottom and dripping on my feet; people are getting a little pushy attempting to get around us and I’m urging W/ to keep moving. She’s not happy with the eggs, not happy with me not having more sympathy, and I’m not happy having the travelers push and shove with raw egg on my feet. Eventually she gets the idea I’m not mad, I think it’s mildly funny and it would be good to move; we cross the rest of the bridge and tell Hobo of our brief adventure. Back at the boat we discover that one egg survived; it cost $2.50.
The following day the four and a half of us (Morgan is the half) took another trip in. We figured to hike a bit. We had observed some interesting areas in the hills that maybe had a small Eco Lodge and we knew that; I should say we hoped that the Airport didn’t have a scheduled flight in the afternoon because the runway would be a good part of our trail. As we arrived the child that had lead Morgan around the day before magically appeared wanting to lead Morgan again and off we went. We found one what looked like an active trail and followed it up into the hills only to discover that it leads to a burial site. As the Kuna consider these sites sacred we chose to abort our trip there and try another trail. Although we didn’t get off the beaten path again we did discover a chicken farm by the side of the airport, we saw there was a room at the end that seemed like it was part of the airport for people to bring their computers and and do some….work? Larry asked if there was internet there and they said no. Who knows? We again walked across the foot bridge to town and what a difference. It was jumping!
An inter-island freighter had arrived and we saw the same frenzied look on the Kuna as you do people shopping at a new Walmart. Next to the town dock there was a volleyball court where we watched some inter island competition. The rules have to be slightly different because I saw 4 hits / side (in the US I think there are only 3) and I also saw that a couple of saves were made with feet and legs – I thought a serious no- no. However as the Kuna either hold the record for the the world’s shortest
population; or come damn close, these guys could jump. One team had mostly bare feet playing on a cement court and the other team were mostly were covered with tennis shoe. We marveled at the activity around the town center for a bit; watched most of a game and then worked our way across the foot bridge and back to the boats.
We were planning on leaving in the am and although we had been to this anchorage 4 times now we ‘d never been in our out on the E side; that’s how we had planned on leaving the following day traveling East to Ustupu.