the sail itself was rather uneventful, if mark and i hadn't spent the last 4 days in cartagena under various air conditioners. the result: we both came down with a rather nasty head cold feeling achy and sick for the whole trip - arriving in paradise with a little fever.
but two days later and able to breath again, we wake up surrounded by these little islands with coconut palms on them, some hardly bigger than a picnic blanket. the water is crystal clear, the coral reefs are colorful - only the sky is grey and will remain grey for the next 10 days only allowing us 10h of sunshine scattered between little rain patches.
the wind is howling - nevertheless a bit of paradise for us and the first real "exotic" place with indigenous people living in tiny huts on the palm-treed picnic blankets with names like "dupwala" or "nulnudup", "warsobguadup" or "wichubuala"
with the island so small, there is not much room to grow tall. the kunas of kuna yala (the correct name for the autonomous san blas area of panama) are the second shortest people after the pygmies in the world - and after seeing them for the first time we could not help it but calling them umpa-lumpas.
the women dressed mostly with traditional beads and molas, they spend days sitting around fires making these great pieces of craft.
men are out fishing or watching the mola-making and wait for the days to go by.
we spend our days watching the mola making, snorkeling, spear-fishing (mark shot his first barracuda adding another tick on the list of must-dos for manhood: buy a boat, cross an ocean, shoot a barracuda with a speargun....you know;)...these sorta things)
and wait for the days to go by trying to ignore the voices calling from panama and the boat asking for a layer of anti-foul.
in short: life is good - but after crossing a quite harsh bit of sea on this planet we feel like we deserve it! (that we've been lucky enough not to experience the harsh bit is a small cosmetic detail not spoiling the beauty of this feeling)
the only thing that spoils this paradise is the amount of plastic debris found on the windward side of most of these islands - so much of it that the kunas gave up collecting it. we try do to the right thing when we burn our plastic-rubbish and also collect a tiny amount to burn with it. i know, burning plastics does not sound very environmentally sound, but unfortunately you can either collect it and bring it to panama, where it will be blown out to sea and back to the san blas, or burn the hell out of it leaving nothing but ashes. just don't do your marshmallows on it!
the amount of ship wrecks sitting on reefs, from tankers to sailing yachts the size of maloo are sobering. it makes you wonder why you still see boats coming to anchorages in the middle of the night or with full sail flying. personally i do prefer to maneuver through reefs in the safety of daylight with the engine slowly propelling us forward - my eyes looking out from the bow and mark's fixed to the depth sensor - as the charts are not accurate and sometimes 100meters out this seems to be the only sensible thing to do. 2 meters too much to the right make the difference between a safe anchorage surrounded by wonderful islands and reefs and being a landmark for other sailors for years to come in these sometimes narrow entrances ....but well, that's just us - "cowards" that we are!
other people around here seem to be real dare devils making sure there will be enough wrecks for years to come!
soon we leave the umpas behind and make our way to panama - the last miles through the caribbean sea, the last miles through the atlantic - wasn't it just yesterday that we went through the straight of gibraltar? - and thousands of miles ahead of us in the planet's biggest ocean.
before that, maloo demands a bit of tender love and care - and rightly so, as panama is the last easy place to give here what she needs before australia.
so we will give her what she needs and then load her up with food for the next 8 months....so follow us when mark and i try to break the record for the longest receipt ever printed by a supermarket-cash-register!
|a local kuna-lady making a mola (i.e. a picture made of layers of fabric hand stitched together)|
|the local clan on holandes-cays|
|a typical dug-out made out of driftwood|
|taking the dog fishing...the puppy was in the dug out when ever it went out to sea|