Passage from San Blas to Linton Island, Panama

We really would have liked to stay in the San Blas at least two more days to take part in the special events. Today on Carti Suitupo there are festivities for the biggest holiday of the year for the Kuna people, when they won their autonomy from Panama. Mr. G had invited us back for the last day of the puberty party, which is tomorrow, where the girl is unveiled in her newfound glory, with the shaved head, ring in her nose and her body painted. But we were out of time and really needed to get to the canal. We knew from the radio net that between the anticipated festivities and the not so great weather we have been having, not a lot of boats have headed to Colon lately, which means the canal wait is probably short. It sounds like a lot of boats would all be heading out in the next two or three days, when the forecast improves and the holiday is over. We were afraid that if we arrived in the middle of the glut, we’d get caught in a long canal line.

The trip to Colon would take about 13 hours total, an awkward number. Yesterday we had gone back and forth about the best strategy. Strategy one was to Continue reading Passage from San Blas to Linton Island, Panama

The Puberty Party and Learning More About the Kuna Life

Continued from yesterday”¦ After everyone else was served, we were offered the beer. Suddenly, all eyes were on us, intently watching for our reaction. Visually speaking, we would have mistaken it for molasses. It was black and thick, like syrup. They insisted we do the little dance prior to drinking it. Another local joined in to lead us in the dance, which we think we followed along with pretty well. We went to down our beer. It was absolutely disgusting. Mr. G had lied when he said it was non-alcoholic. In those 8 days, it had definitely fermented. It wasn’t a strong alcohol taste, but it was enough to make a gross beverage even grosser. Christi could barely get a small sip down. Eric took one gulp. Everyone insisted we finish our cups. Eric took another sip and said he could drink no more. Everyone was disappointed we wouldn’t drink it, but simultaneously incredibly amused by our reaction. We sat down and held onto our cups for a while people continued to insist we drink it. When it was evident we would drink no more, two guys drank it for us.

We asked where the girl being honored was. Apparently, a special room with a special layout is built for her somewhere, and she is Continue reading The Puberty Party and Learning More About the Kuna Life

Exploring the Carti Islands and The Puberty Party Begins

When we were done at the museum, Jose locked up. Wow, John was right. He was closing for the cruise ship, which we found odd. John took us on a tour of the island. He showed us the two schools, both concrete bungalows. He took us a several nice view points. We got a good look at the fourth island that we hadn’t actually seen until just then.

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He took us to the pier, which are two large concrete docks side by side. There was a big trawler loaded with Continue reading Exploring the Carti Islands and The Puberty Party Begins

Carti Suitupo and the Kuna Cultural Museum

Today was the busiest day we have had in a while. Since we went to bed early, we were up early, too. We peered outside. No cruise ship. We made breakfast and again peered outside. This time we saw the cruise ship in the distance, approaching us. We decided to get to shore ASAP. We knew it would take the cruise ship a while to bring down their tenders and shuttle the tourists to shore, so maybe we could get in and out before too many tourists flooded the islands.

We quickly got the dinghy down and headed out to the closest island, Carti Suitupo. Carti Suitupo is the closest to the mainland of all the islands, and thus the most densely populated. We went there first because it is the island with the museum. We saw a dock just around the corner from Kosmos’ line of sight, a small wooden dinghy dock. We watched a motorized dugout canoe with two tourists pull up to the dock. We pulled in on the other side of the dock and waited until a local wandered by, then asked if we could leave our dinghy there. He said no problem.

From the dock there was a narrow dirt walking path that led between tightly packed huts. Most of the huts had bamboo walls and a roof made of thick layers of palm fronds. A few of the huts had a slanted metal roof similar to what we saw around the rest of the Caribbean. We did see a couple of buildings made of concrete. Some of the huts were almost touching. All the yards were surrounded by bamboo fences. The edges of the houses and the fence were literally on the edge of the walkway. With the housing so tight, in a way, it reminds us of Medieval European cities, except in Europe the buildings aren’t made of bamboo and palm fronds.

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There were a lot of people walking around, many carrying big quantities of assorted food products. Several times we had to Continue reading Carti Suitupo and the Kuna Cultural Museum

Wandering Around the San Blas Island Chain

Yesterday we awoke still feeling tired and out of it. We were sad to see that it was gray and cloudy, windy, and that the anchorage was filled with little but sharp and rapid waves. Darn. We had planned to go and explore the islands around us this morning. Getting the dinghy down would be a pain, and it would be a wet ride to and from the islands. We decided to wait until noon to go to shore. By then, maybe the wind would die down like it did yesterday afternoon. Our friends on Arielle called us on the radio to let us know they had arrived in the San Blas and had anchored at Lemon Keys, which is halfway between Porvenir and Holandes.

We made breakfast, put in a load of laundry, watched a movie, and kind of puttered around doing little odds and ends. At noon, we Continue reading Wandering Around the San Blas Island Chain