The sail from Colombia was good, lightish winds and a lumpy sea made it uncomfortable at times but we made good time and were rewarded with our first views of the San Blas at around lunchtime. And what views! The San Blas islands are home to the Kuna Indians; you'd be forgiven for not having heard of them, being a small group of islands belonging to the Rep of Panama, but nevertheless the Kunas are fiercely independent and shunning the western way of life.
The islands are small (often football-field size), made of sand, crammed with tall, swaying palm trees and set in azur water behind a barrier reef that prevents them being washed away. On some of these islands live the indians, in grass huts in clearings in the trees. Most of the islands do not have fresh water or electricity; all water and food is brought in by ulus which are hand-hewn dugout canoes. These indians are some of the last 'unspoilt' people on earth and their happiness despite their poverty (they are poor, but only materially) has to be seen to be believed. It is very humbling. They live by fishing, and tending 'farm' patches on the nearby mainland that they reach by dugout, generally sailing one way (their sails are made from any fabric they can find so are often a riot of colour) and paddling back against the onshore trade winds. Coconuts grow in abundance on the islands and they are collected and sold by the Kunas; us ‘gringos’ are not allowed to take them.
Our clockwise circular route round the western San Blas started at the Cocobanderos (uninhabited, idyllic), Green Island (local Croc, uninhabited, idyllic), Maquina (small, inhabited, pretty) and the Islas Carti (densely populated, dirty).
Date(s): January 2007. Album by Gerard Coulson. Photos by Gerard Coulson. 1 - 92 of 92 Total. 10012 Visits.
We arrive in the San Blas, Cocobandero Cays
Jonty hoists Panama
The kids go ashore to explore the tiny island of Orduptarboat
A bonfire on the island for supper, burning rubbish and...
Some Kunas overnighting on the island, they live much further south
Beccy messing around
Clarabella at anchor off Green Island
Ashore on Green Island
San Blas I 88
San Blas I 89
Eric and Geniya
Our quiet anchorage
San Blas I 10
San Blas I 11
Ashore with Jan from Decourcy Spirit
San Blas I 13
Jan and Jonty
The boys on green Island, with Clarabella at anchor
Kuna caretakers set sail
San Blas I 19
Decourcy Spirit, Clarabella and Meta at anchor
San Blas I 21
San Blas I 22
Lots of energy
Playing off the easter end of Green Island
San Blas I 26
San Blas I 27
warming up before a trash-burn
Kunas alongside to sell Mols
Jonty and Merlin from Myrdinn
Myrdinn, at Los Grullos
Monica gets a lift back from the beach!
An airplane announcement, Kuna style
Ashore for supper at the 'resort' on Los Grullos
San Blas I 36
San Blas I 37
More mola sellers
One of the mola ladies
M with some of the molas that we bought.
The ladies who sold us very beautiful molas. They do not like their photos being taken. Both ladies were good fun!
Ashore on Maquina
Eric gives a sens of scale to grass huts on Maquina
San Blas I 90
San Blas I 91
San Blas I 47
San Blas I 48
The boys cause a lor of interest with a football
San Blas I 50
A lovely little local girl who laughed all the time
San Blas I 53
San Blas I 54
These all turned out to see us off!
We head ashore to the mainland with a Kuna guide
San Blas I 55
The local car-park. Kunas 'commute' from the islands to the mainland to work small farm plots
Some of the San Blas Islands. The boats are on the left of the island in the middle
Our return trip
San Blas I 59
San Blas I 60
Rebecca and Juliette
San Blas I 62
One of these dropped down next to me!
On Maquina again
San Blas I 65
San Blas I 66
This is the schoolroom!
San Blas I 68
We spent a very rough 24 hours here once the wind increased; lots of pitching.
Babies go with parents in the ulus regardless of weather.
We stop for lunch at the Islas Carti, a group of small islands very close together.